That’s me above on the right happy to be going home from Iraq in 2003 and yes, I have my hands in my pockets so come to terms with it however you must. It’s not my toughest looking war picture, but with the way we are fighting the war on ISIS, I thought it appropriate. Famed Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” Without a doubt, the war raging in Syria and Iraq has been excruciatingly cruel for those who must endure it. But a big part of me is starting to ask the question as to whether America’s refusal to heed General Willy T’s words has made the world a more cruel place and for much longer than it ever had to be. Every day this war persists more women are raped at the hands of ISIS. Every day this war has persisted means more children sold into sexual slavery. And everyday ISIS continues to hold territory is another day they can inspire a local jihadi to wreak havoc on the west. And every day this war persists and an entire generation is warped by unimaginable horrors. I’m a Marine who served in Iraq and like many of you, we can testify that war is ,in fact, cruel and there is indeed no use trying to reform it. But when this one is over and we pull back the curtain on what fully happened behind the lines I think we will be shocked to find out that our refusal to act in a decisively cruel manner just might have been the cruelest thing of all. Special prize to the person who accurately counts how many times I say cruel in this article. But take a look at this picture below.
A Generation Warped By War
The picture you see above is a girl named Tereszka who resided at a Polish home for disturbed children in 1948. She was asked to draw a picture of home and what you see on the blackboard is her depiction. Now, that might seem odd to you but when I tell you she grew up in a Nazi concentration camp it all makes a lot more sense doesn’t it. I simply cannot imagine what it is to have your worldview from a young age formed by what she saw in those places.
But then again, after 13 years working in the child welfare system, I sort of can. I worked with kids who experienced unimaginable trauma and it affected them in unimaginable ways. It doesn’t surprise me that Tereska above wound up in a home for disturbed children and I’m betting if World War 2 ended in 1940, she never has to step foot in that place. An entirely new generation of children are being witnesses to unprecedented carnage and it almost seems cruel to withhold the cruelty that could have ended it two years ago.
Mental health transcends nationality and I’m betting that Iraqi girl getting raped multiple times daily in Mosul won’t act too much different than an American child raped daily by her uncle. I’m betting a young Syrian boy watching beheadings and people being burned alive won’t be too far away from drawing circles on a blackboard in a future Syrian home for disturbed children. And yes, I don’t think a young Syrian male taught to cut off heads at the age of 10 will wind up a very productive member of society and could very well be the reason we are saying “Je Suis” some European city 10 years from now. Just today in Germany a refugee from this prolonged war hacked a pregnant woman to death. Who could do such a thing you ask? I bet that 10-year-old would.
Degrade and Destroy
Look people, I know America can’t save the world but let us not pretend the ramifications of this prolonged approach are not going to have it’s own unintended consequences on the world. I actually do believe the slow play approach of building up local forces to do the work has merit. But as I said earlier, the longer this war goes on I start to doubt if it is worth it. On two occasions the United States balked when presented with a clear opportunity to bring decisive American military might to bear. When Assad used chemical weapons against the rebels and crossed Obama’s red line, that was supposed to be it. That was in 2013, just two years after the Civil War now pushing 5 years started. Would military action in Syria have been cruel? Sure it would, but it’s a fair question to ask as to whether the additional 3 plus years of war that resulted is in fact, a more special kind of cruel.
It was January 2014 when ISIS took Fallujah and Obama gave his famed “JV” remarks. But by summer the “JV” team had taken Mosul and the region was now in the hands of a horribly cruel master. Mass rapes, beheadings, people drowned in cages, burned alive, and children sold into sexual slavery. One of the dumbest articles I ever wrote on this blog was after ISIS beheaded 2 American journalist a couple of years ago. I was sure that was it and I was sure America was about to get cruel and into the fight. I even said ISIS would be less significant than that SIM City I built on Super Nintendo back in 1994. But we chose a less cruel path and I can’t help but wonder now if that was the most cruel of all.
I’m thoroughly convinced without the inspiration of ISIS giving a sort of State legitimacy to jihadist, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Orlando, Chattanooga, and San Bernardino would never have happened. Sure we could have experienced terror, but due to our lack of cruelty it almost seems like I expect it every week. Rather than subjecting our enemy to our own righteous cruelty we are getting the worst of theirs that they can throw at us. After all, War is cruelty and there is indeed no use trying to reform it. And yet, just like General Willy T said, the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. It is entirely possible that our lack of cruelty has been the cruelest thing we could have done to this world in our generation and the longer this war persists, the more I will believe it. Stay safe out there, especially to my friends on the new front line of our choosing, Europe. Now how about that cruel count?
Don’t be Cruel and Like My Unprecedented Mediocrity Facebook Page Below.
[efb_likebox fanpage_url=”unprecedentedmediocrity” box_width=”250″ box_height=”” locale=”en_US” responsive=”1″ show_faces=”1″ show_stream=”0″ hide_cover=”0″ small_header=”0″ hide_cta=”0″ ]