I have spent the last few days prepping for a ‘very important’ seminar. I teach seminars or extended classes on a regular basis… but this one was special. One of the largest and most influential companies in Germany. Needless to say, I was excited… here was an oppurtunity to engage in debate some of the most highly regarded business people around!
Well, it was fun, and the group was great. Really intelligent people and all at a high level of english, but the most interesting conversation of the day award goes to… the taxi driver who drove me home.
Within seconds of entering the cab… I am exposed. ‘American soldier?’ he asks. I respond in the affirmative expecting a slew of anti-american talking points followed by an onslaught of questions as to American motives in the middle east. With my head held low awaiting the coming barrage, he begins to thank me. Thank you, thank you he repeats, thanks for getting rid of the evil man that was Saddamm! There are times when someone says thank you and you know it is automatic… like opening the door or after waiting on hold. This isn’t one of those times.
As long as I can remember thinking about it, I have had mixed feelings on America’s military. I have always been more than respectful to our nation’s Vets and proud of my own service, but at the same time, I’ve wondered if what we were working towards, as Americans, was the right thing. Surely every military has felt righteousness in their mission. Or else, how could they carry out their duties?
I remember sitting in my bunk in Fort Bliss, TX hearing President Bush informing his people that we had begun bombing Iraq, and that our mission was to depose the dictator Saddamm Hussein. I felt joy, and triumph, and pride, and excitement. I was a part of this. I was going to kick this asshole out and save the people of Iraq from an oppresive regime. And as President Bush trailed off, on the radio in our bunks in El Paso, we heard the first bombs exploding in the cities of Iraq. And I was righteous.
Now, over 10 years later… everything is more complicated.
My driver begins to explain to me the current political situation in his homeland. Not good he tells me. Since we ‘won’. Iraq, he explains, has been hijacked by extremists rivaling Saddamm in their bias secularism. He goes on to tell me, the current prime minister of Iraq isn’t even an Iraqi. He is a Iranian who is considered radical in Iraq. His opposition, a non-secular pro-democracy moderate, had no chance against his US backed rival. America, he tells me, has installed a leader that he feels is even worse for his country than Saddamm.
Two things hit me in this conversation… 1 ) what would it feel like for a country other than our own, say Italy, to come in and impose a leader or president on us. Imagine Berlusconi ( the child prostitute hiring leader of Italy) comes in one day and says “I know what we need to do, we need to increase religious influence in our goverment… ” He would be not only run out of office, he might be banished entirely from American politics. Meanwhile, we are spending millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars on advancing just that, extremist religious leaders who are anything but aligned with American interests.
He wanted to be clear, he was thankful for our invasion, he was just disappointed in how we left things. And who could blame him? Would you want to live in Iraq?
If you try to accomplish something… be sure of what is is you wish to accomplish… otherwise, you will only find failure.
It is time to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and Pakistan and Syria… and all the other countries where we wage War (or some discounted version of it) and look at our own problems and hurdles. Why are we spending literally billions abroad when people are starving to death within our own borders. I’m not against foreign aide but at some point we have to recognize our own need for domestic aide.
The US goverment spends more on military than all the other countries in the world combined… fact. Is it because we are so cool and have to defend our coolness? Is it because we are so right and other counties are soo wrong? Is it because our pop-music is so much better than theirs? What are we ‘defending’ ourselves from???