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Flexing our muscle can mean more combat

war has consequences
war has consequences Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

I support most of what President Obama is doing, and what he's trying to do. Who knows where we could be had there been a congress willing to engage and find solutions. If you're not willing to work at finding answers to our problems, then we get what we have-not much of anything or constant polarization. Polling, if nothing else, gives us a general idea of where the American people stand.Most of Americans are sick of war and do not want us engaged in any more of it. Over the past two decades, we have fought in our two longest wars, and now we have an Iraq virtually cut into three or more parts, and is or seems to be, in a permanent state of civil war. Afghanistan is another question mark. There are signs the Taliban is re-surging. Once we leave this country, there may be an all out civil war just as there is in Iraq.

I thought we should have kept a force of at least 10,000 troops in Iraq, but they actually wanted us to leave. We could have pressed the issue but who knows how hard we tried. As of today, we have an average of 22 veterans daily committing suicide. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is rampant upon returning vets and there's no question constant revolving tours in and out of both wars were a source of exhaustion and mental turmoil for our troops. As much as Iraq was a mistaken mess, the fact is we went in and fought for over ten years. To leave that country standing on its own with the likes of a hand picked dimwit like Nouri al Maliki was a very risky gamble. It just seemed like a mistake to not at least try to shore-up that fragile country with some sort of force to defend whatever enemies might try and overtake a weak government-which is what is happening now. God forbid we could get help from other countries to defend a critical nation, and yes-major oil producer. We simply cannot allow this force formerly called ISIS to take property and set up some provisional government that also includes parts of Syria.

Syria is the other location I think we should have tried to lend a hand in defeating the corrupt and miserable regime of Assad. Americans seem to want our government to remain the world power it is, and help offset gains made by terrorists in these areas, all while not wanting us engaged in more war. How do we accomplish that? There was supposedly a "window" of opportunity to lend a hand to the rebels fighting Assad, but honestly-who are these guys? Back in the late 1970s when we helped other rebels fight the Soviet Union, one of those rebels turned out to be Osama bin Laden. Once we left Afghanistan, people like bin Laden helped fill the void, and that force turned into Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and we ended up with 9/11. Even in Iraq, the group ISIS now has plenty of American made weapons left behind during the Iraqi war. By not going into Syria, Obama's threat did turn into a valid deal struck by Russia to extract all chemical weapons out of Assad's hands. It's hard to tell if we did-in fact- get all those weapons, but I doubt that deal would have happened had we actively taken part in attacking Syria by air or with drones. We are in fact helping out in some ways now at a low level.

When it comes to Ukraine, the question again is: how much of an active part should America play in going after Russia? In 1956 when the Soviet Union put down an attempted revolt by Hungary, Eisenhower elected not to get involved. Ditto that by LBJ when the same thing happened in Czechoslovakia in 1968. GeorgeW. Bush offered some weapons and training, but did not get our troops involved in the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia. It's Russia's back yard, so we would have trouble fighting in that region and winning without it turning into a widespread operation.

Unfortunately, we have to flex our muscle now and then because some governments and "leaders" around the world don't understand anything else. President Obama should not take any options off the table, and never give a firm date on when we're leaving a country. Americans now seem to want it both ways: no drawn out combat missions, but show other nations who are causing trouble, that we can and will get involved, if necessary, to preserve a nations free will. That isn't easy as we have seen before. We have to be careful because getting into war is easy, and getting out can take forever. Arming so called rebels is a dicey proposition because once the rebels win, if that occurs, may mean a more undesirable enemy than we had before. Life is not as black and white as some thought many years ago. Is America so strong that we can, by might and sheer will, force tribal conflicts which have lasted centuries to-all of a sudden-see the light?

America has to seek options and alliances in ways not utilized before. We simply can't enter conflicts everywhere they pop up. Arab spring seemed like an honest attempt by freedom seeking masses to take their country back-but were beaten back by the powers that be or powerful forces in or near the centers of whatever nation was experiencing an uprising. It never seems like the people seeking a new and independent nation that offers a more democratic way, ever have the weapons or resources to assure that democracy wins. We can help, like we tried to do in Vietnam, but that turned out to be a war of nationalism where we didn't belong.We thought Ho Chi Minh was a puppet of the Soviet Union or China, and we were wrong. Ho actually sought our help decades before, but the two Dulles(head of State dept. & the CIA) brothers simply thought he was a no-good "commie" and set us on course into what became the Vietnam War.

How to help the right people in a nation seeking reasonable freedom-that is the question. It's a chess game using real bullets and massive weapons systems. We are the primary supplier of those weapons, and have learned they often fall into the hands of maniacs. Those same weapons often end up coming back at us-the hard way. We can't just sit back and watch, and we cannot get knee-deep in war every time it seems just a little combat on our part will do the trick. A little skirmish or idea that our intervention can help may devolve into years of war and turmoil which also extracts resources from our homeland-a place that critically needs attention too. Obama may be too skittish about getting involved anywhere for fear of prolonged war. JFK was a big believer of being on the alert of combat involvement turning into something too big to get out of. That was one reason why I believe- had he lived, Vietnam may have turned out differently. He and his brother had traveled to Vietnam in the early 1950s, and believed colonialism was a big mistake.America needs to make sure we learn lessons from past mistakes. Afghanistan was necessary but maybe a full blown combat mission was overblown. After all we've been through there, and now to read the Taliban is reforming leaves one to wonder what we accomplished for thirteen years. Iraq was a flat out mistake, but we uncorked a mess which we should have stayed on some level and sought to at least hold this place together, even if that glue was rather tenuous. At the end of the day, we need strong alliances now more than ever. America will need a cross-section of help to keep this world together because right now, it is a huge mess. Maybe Hillary was right--it takes a village-- a very big village.