I was struck by the photo below as I was reading an article on the current situation with the Afghanistan War and the future prospects of ‘winning’ there.
Old men. Old men decide on the incipience of and the culmination of the wars to which they send the youth of their nation to fight and die. How strange, but then, the entire concept of ‘war’ confounds logical thinking. Old men, I suppose, are thought of as wise- which is why they are often found at the highest levels of business and government.
Recent examples of that wisdom turned wise-dumb are the two current wars that are being waged by the United States. Both were begun as revenge. One, national revenge and the other family-matter vengeance. Yet at the inception of both wars, the ‘wise old men’ moved the decision forward or were not strong enough to halt the march to war.
Five thousand of our nation’s youth now lie in their cold graves because the wise old men were not strong enough to ask whether there was an alternative action that might solve the problem other than war. And billions of dollars of the nation’s treasure will not be spent enriching the lives of the citizens of this nation because of those decisions.
I often refer to the wisdom and maturity of the nations of Europe and compare that with the seemingly adolescent behavior of the United States. These two wars support that hypothesis- especially the Iraq War. Most of Europe remained on the sidelines while the Unites States jumped in as if it were an important [ read Patriotic] mission that would save our nation from some imminent danger.
And what didn’t the youth of America know about these wars that the wise old men should have? The youth cannot be blamed for carrying out their ‘mission’ with gusto and at times, savagery. For it was the old men who directed them there and ordered them to fight ‘the enemy’ will all of their energy and skill. And they did, killed many, and were wounded and killed in return.
The lack of discernment exhibited by the United States in these two wars has led to the use of the pejorative, ‘cowboy,’ by our European and Canadian friends. Perhaps rightly so. We are quick to anger and reaction and, like the cowboy, we have the weapons to mete out our form of ‘justice.’ It is not unlike those ugly, male adolescent years that we men have endured and wish to forget. Well, not to forget, but from which to learn anew.
As the years pass, and the gap between adolescence and old age widens, sagaciousness is thought to increase as well. Yet, history always tells the same story-it’s the old men who initiate wars and keep them marching onward, and the youth who participate and die.
As that 60’s folk song says, “When will they ever learn…?”