This quote deserves national, no, universal attention. I'd call it a quote for the century. It comes from our Republican Defense Secretary. It should be emblazoned on every Pentagon member's brain. That also includes every hawk, dove and voter's brain.
In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it.
ROBERT M. GATES, the secretary of defense.
In my own lifetime we've fought four or five major wars, only one of which was fundamentally necessary. I doubt that any historian would view WWII against the Axis governments as anything other than a just war. The Korean War was the first major response to the domino theory, the notion that if we give up land or nations to the communists they'll just keep taking more and more. The Korean War was the US attempt to stop Communism. The two wars, Reagan, and US policy ultimately had little direct effect on the demise of communism. I'd argue that Communism ended because the Russians did it to themselves.
The Vietnam War was the domino theory gone to seed. Those of us who lived through it remember that not only was there a phenomenal loss of American and Asian lives, but that the war tore apart the US population. In many ways, the Vietnam War was a major turning point for the American culture. The most serious loss in that time period was our trust of our government, just as the Supreme Court's Bush/Gore decision may well have been a key loss of trust in the judiciary. The Iraq War, otherwise known as the ruse over WMD, has been terribly destructive and not significantly liberating. Based on what's happening in the Middle East today, it may well be that technological connections in the form of Twitter, Facebook, cellphone,email, etc. have far more impact than US boots on the ground.
The Afghanistan War has been a horrible waste of soldiers, money and policy. There are so many other ways the US could have more wisely spent its largesse.
Well, The Secretary of Defense is the right person to say it. The report on Gates' speech, delivered at West Point is in Sunday's Times. The full text of the "lecture" can be found in The Stars and Stripes.