In this holiday season, I feel like a BB in a Mason jar—those glass jars my Gran used for canning peaches—with my thoughts and emotions ping-ponging off obviously skewed news stories with such regularity that I hardly know what to think. From Benghazi, where Americans died after being abandoned by their government, to the rampant murder of our soldiers in Afghanistan by so-called friendly Afghans, the bizarre low-key response from the Whitehouse and Congress baffles me completely.
At times like this, I find that a good re-read of one of the classics usually puts my mind in order. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian author best known for his two novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, was also a philosopher and vocal proponent of non-violent resistance.
Today, when various factions try, yet again, to ban Christmas I wonder about the real agenda behind this affront to our values. On the other hand, I question the desire of some self-proclaimed Christians to erase the boundary between Church and State.
Almost 150 years ago, Tolstoy was bent on the separation of Orthodox Christianity, which was merged with the state in Russia at the time, from what he believed was the true gospel of Jesus Christ, as per the Sermon on the Mount. In his, The Kingdom of God is Within You, (1894) Tolstoy states, “Nowhere, nor in anything except in the assertion of the Church, can we find that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.”
He also questions government on war; “How can you kill people when it’s written in God’s commandment: ‘Thou shalt not murder.’?”
It seems to me that most of officialdom in Washington, D.C. is composed of little more than wobbly armchair warriors. The President, who’s never been in the military but has his own enemy “kill list,’ sets out ridiculous Rules of Engagement for our troops that are more suited for football than a bloody war; the perfectly blow-dried Joint Chiefs of Staff inexplicably announce a time table for war, and Members of Congress vie for their 15 seconds on CNN or FOX to spurt mealy-mouthed insults against the other side.
In an article of December 4, 2012, Robert Burns of the Associated Press (AP) explodes heretofore secret details of our dead and wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. Working through the Freedom of Information Act to get secret U.S. Army reports, Burns was able to piece together an attack in October 2011 where U.S. Army Captains, Joshua Lawrence and Drew Russell were killed. “They were not killed by the Taliban as the U.S. led military coalition indicated the day after the Oct. 11, 2011 assault.” He says that Lawrence and Russell, “…were killed in what U.S. investigators later called, ‘a calculated and coordinated’ attack by Afghan soldiers trusted to work alongside their U.S. partners.”
Burns states that U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington routinely withheld details of attacks on American soldiers until pressed for the truth by AP, “At least 63 coalition troops, mostly Americans have been killed, by the AP’s count, and more than 85 wounded by insider attacks this year. That’s an average of nearly one attack a week. In 2011, 21 insider attacks killed 35.”
Tolstoy’s words from War and Peace, should be observed by Washington policy makers, “War is not a polite recreation, but the vilest thing in life and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept this terrible necessity sternly and seriously. It all lies in that: get rid of falsehood and let war be war and not a game. As it is now, war is the favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous.”
Moving on to more recent literature, Dereliction of Duty, by H.R. McMaster is a remarkable description of the disastrous policies of President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and General Maxwell Taylor and their deception of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the American public that sucked the U.S. into the Viet Nam war.
Not much has changed in 40 years. Dereliction of Duty II is an 84 page unclassified report published in January 2012, by Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17 year Army veteran, after his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He says, “Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”
Here we are; the war in Iraq has ended leaving the blood of American soldiers caked in the sand and very little else. Iran, with her soldiers shouting “Death to America,” is now Iraq’s new best friend. The war in Afghanistan is a mess of lies and deception with Americans being murdered weekly by insurgents who never became friendlies, despite what their leaders supposedly decreed.
What has the U.S.A. gained? Where did all the war money go? Who benefits from continuing the war? Where are all the well informed, non-violent protesters?
The President has vowed to end the war while personally ordering weekly executions by drone from a secret “kill list,” and Congress babbles on about everything except the dead and wounded in these, their largely undisputed wars.
Sorry Tolstoy, peace on earth may take a while yet…