Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

"The problem, of course, was that it was impossible to distinguish militant Taliban members or Al Qaeda from innocent civilians. Everyone became a suspect." Yes, that would be the problem. We send soldiers into a culture that they know nothing about, and a language that they don't understand, and we expect them to figure out who is who.

Imagine for a moment that you are dropped off in a gang-ridden neighborhood in an American city, and you speak only Chinese. What are your odds of gaining a clear understanding of what's going on? Now imagine that you have a machine gun, just to help you solve the problems in this American city. Gee, how's that going to work for you?

The military can fight battles. The military cannot negotiate peace or mediate differences between rival ethnic groups.

Evelyn Elwell

Los Angeles, CA

May 21 2009 - 4:18pm

Web Letter

"A number of veterans and I are forming a group called Vets for Rethinking Afghanistan." What a splendid idea.

Yes, 9/11 achieved its motive in galvanizing American opinion, yea, even a lynch mob atmosphere against Islam.

Now with Iraq destroyed, over 4,270 American dead , many thousands injured, all at an estimated $3 trillion cost and over a million Iraqi dead, 5 million orphaned and depleted uranium and cluster bombs etc., etc., it is indeed about time to rethink.

The Industrial Military Complex with its scare tactics and now neocons repeating their agenda with their Iran Nuclear scare, it's time for a just solution to the Middle East conflict--which, shamefully, the USA has never seriously addressed.

Mathew Neville

Miami, US

May 20 2009 - 12:52pm

Web Letter

Mr. Reyes, my heart goes out to you. You have shown bravery both by joining the armed services to serve your country and by speaking out when so much pressure is on you and other vets to promote the "war agenda." I have a close friend who served in the Gulf in the early 1990s as a Marine, carrying on a family tradition (his father was an Army Ranger in Vietnam, who died of Agent Orange-related cancer at age 42). I knew him for two years before he ever spoke to me about his experiences in Kuwait and Iraq, and when he finally did speak the things he told me made me a pacifist for life. I firmly believe that our service members are victims of war as much as any other casualty. I hope that you are successful in your endeavor to end the mismanagement of foreign conflicts and change the American passion for war. I will continue to write my representatives in the hope that men and women like you are brought home to their families, and that we can leave intact families abroad to develop their lives without constant harassment and suspicion.

Frances Kinslow

Mt. View, HI

May 19 2009 - 8:40pm

Web Letter

This is a good article, and it gives some idea of the problems our troops face in these two wars. The concepts of containment, deterrence and mutually assured destruction were the alternatives to force during the "cold war." While mutually assured destruction was not an issue with Iraq, it was contained and deterred. There was no logical reason to go to war in Iraq. 9/11 was the reason for going into Afghanistan, but as this article notes, there were no clear goals, and we didn't know the ground or the people. Lacking such knowledge, it is probably a good idea to get to know the ground and the people before launching major operations. In war and peace, building relationships and working with people are more likely to produce success. Firepower has its uses, but it is a blunt instrument whose use can be counterproductive.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

May 19 2009 - 2:46pm