Are we enjoying the war too much?

Published 3:19 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

By By Lloyd Albritton
During a discussion with my son recently about the war in Iraq, he exclaimed, "Man, I want to be over there so bad!"
My son, now age 32, a Colorado State Trooper and still in "buff" physical condition, followed in the footsteps of his father and a large number of other family men and served his military obligation in the Marine Corps. He did not finish his boot camp training in time to make it to the main Gulf War in 1991, but he did make it over there for the clean-up operations and brought home stories of sheiks riding down the streets of Kuwait on camels while talking on their cell phones. He also participated in the Marine landings in Somalia. My son is a macho guy, you see, as evidenced by the barbed wire tattoo around his pumped-up left bicep. "That's my old unit over there right now," he said, "and I still feel like I ought to be with them."
Such is the attitude of many young men in America right now, and a few old ones too. As I watched our tanks roll into Baghdad on the Fox News Network and young Marines manning big 50-caliber machine guns blazing away at everything that moved, I could not help but think that it did indeed look like a lot of fun. Retired Colonel Ollie North, Geraldo Rivera and all the other embedded reporters seem to be high on testosterone too. In the World War II epic movie Patton, George C. Scott gazed out across the devastated North African desert and recited General Patton's lines, "God help me, I love it so!" Perhaps these odd sentiments are more prevalent in the nature of man than General Patton thought.
Though it seems we have brought the mighty military powers of the United States to bear on nothing more than a ragtag band of ignorant, fanatical Arabian rednecks in old pickup trucks, dang it, it just feels good, doesn't it? All those artillery and missile explosions and jet planes taking off from aircraft carriers and the rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire has the blood of Americans everywhere, young and old, in the war and on the homefront, running hot. God help us, we love it so!
Atmore Advance Editor James Crawford put forth the question in a recent column, "Is war a necessary evil?" James thought not, but I must respectfully disagree. Americans, like citizens of every country and civilization in every period of history have always loved wars, I suppose for the same reason that we deify contact sports. During those peaceful periods when we don't have a common enemy to kill, we often fight among ourselves. I am quite convinced that there exists in the very nature of mankind a propensity toward violence. No matter how tragic, devastating and heartbreaking the last war, as soon as we have rested and regained our strength, we quickly forget and go at it again, and yet again. Robert E. Lee is said to have remarked that it is good that war is so destructive, else we should grow to love it too much.
I am not against the war in Iraq. I believe the ousting of the Saddam Hussein regime is a needful thing. Saddam's warped bunch of evil thugs have committed all manner of evil atrocities. If "the big man on campus" will not step forward and put the thump on such bullies, then who will? Whether the accusation that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction is true or not, his removal and the liberation of Iraq is a positive thing for America and for the rest of the world. The more we learn about him, if only a fraction of it is true, this view would hold.
Our armies are trained to peak condition. I don't think we can maintain such proficiency in our fighting forces without letting them out of the cage now and then to go out and wreak some death and destruction. Every now and then this necessary evil called war has to be unleashed in order to test the latest equipment and the fighting mettle of our highly trained warriors, even as a football team cannot be expected to practice all season and never play a real game? And who better to take out our aggressions on at this particular time than Saddam Hussein? Unfortunately, it's just a necessary evil.
Still, I wonder. Do we seem to be enjoying it all a little too much?

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