The politicians call “…boots on the ground.” Apparently, they do not know what “boots on the ground” mean. Let me see if I can explain: My son, who is in the army, served two tours of duty in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan. During those agonizing years, it was difficult, sometimes, for his mother and me to breathe. I feared ringing telephones. I wanted no one to approach me. Sometimes, I wanted no one to look my way, lest they were preparing to approach me with bad news from the front. This anguish was constant. My son was not a boot.
President Obama has tried to keep our sons safe. He has pulled them out of that graveyard which is Iraq (where over 4000 of our young men and women have died). He is trying to get them out of Afghanistan where another 2000 lie dead. He has kept them out of Libya, Syria, and Yemen.
But, beware President Obama’s successor. Many of the Republican candidates advocate a more aggressive strategy against ISIS, even if it is one that sends tens of thousands of American troops to “hunt down and kill every ISIS fighter.” Be warned: ISIS is in ten affiliate nations stretching from Morocco in the west to Afghanistan in the east, an area encompassing over four million square miles. Besides ISIS, other terrorist groups – including Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Al Nusra Front – will rise out of the sands and cities of North Africa and the Middle East to turn that desert into the “Mother of American graveyards.” In the ensuing maelstrom, we will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. We will spawn a new and more terrible generation of Islamic extremists, hell-bent on avenging the deaths of their parents and brothers and sisters.
People say, “We have to hit them hard so that they will know not to mess with us again.” Forget about it. With their last breaths, they will avenge every hit we deliver. The great physicist, Isaac Newton, said, “For every action, there is a reaction.” In biblical terms: “Eye for an eye…” That is how they live. It appears that is how we live, also.
We call the terrorists, “barbarians.” We call ourselves, “civilized.” Yet, we behave similarly. They seek vengeance; we see vengeance. They kill innocents; we kill innocents, (although we call our victims “collateral damage,” as though that makes it better.) Being civilized, should not we be the one to acknowledge that “vengeance begets vengeance,” and then do more to end this vicious cycle? Are not we supposed to be the adult in the room? I can’t tell. And don’t say, “They hit us first.” That would be childish, and denial. Time to stop the bloodletting. It can happen once those with cooler heads prevail. President Obama displays an even temper. Will his successor be as responsible?
America’s sons are not afraid to fight. And we, as parents, must not be afraid to send them into a worthy fight. What we must fear, however, are leaders who would send our precious young men to fight and die for people on the other side of the world who will not fight and die for themselves.
It is our job to protect our soldiers, just as it is their job to protect this country. For them, we must be wise, not vengeful. They are not boots. They are the best of us.