Letters to the Editor

Bitter lessons on war unlearned

As Memorial Day approaches, it’s difficult for me not to slide into depression when I think about war.

You’d imagine we’d have learned the lessons so bitterly taught to us by Vietnam, but each successive President -- whether it’s with the abdication or support of Congress -- seems to think that getting Americans slaughtered while simultaneously killing innocent civilians is worth it. Compelling reasons are always mustered up to “send in the troops.”

As in Vietnam, we never see realistic estimates of the children, women and elderly killed, or the schools, hospitals, water plants and houses that we’ve ultimately destroy.

A general might say: “Just give me 5,000 more troops, a free hand, and we can win.” Really? Just how many military and civilian casualties constitute victory?

“With respect, sir, I’ve a proposal. If you fail to achieve this win you will be reduced in rank to 2nd Lt., will forfeit all pay, all allowances and pay differentials, as well as your retirement; and so will all your staff and subordinate commanding officers.”

“Now, General, can you tell us again just how many troops you’ll need and how soon you can deliver this marvelous victory?”

Tom Eagen


Lt. Col. USMC, retired