Yesterday, two United States airmen were forced to eject from their F-15E fighter jet over Libya due to mechanical failure. The F-15E Strike Eagle jet, which crashed at 9.30pm GMT, was found near Benghazi. Luckily, they are both alive and reported to be in U.S. hands, but I have to say that every time I hear about this mission in Libya, I cringe.
Last night, I watched the documentary Restrepo (named for a soldier who was killed) that followed a platoon of United States soldiers in the deadly Korangal Valley of Afghanistan back in 2007. It was disturbing because it gave the viewer an up-close and personal view of war. It also showed how vulnerable the soldiers were at any given time and what conditions they lived in, not knowing from moment to moment whether they’d make it.
The Korangal Valley was considered the deadliest places in Afghanistan and every day the soldiers received fire. One solider talked about how he always said he’s call his mother and tell her everything was fine, never mentioning how a friend got shot that day, another lost an arm or another was killed.
The majority of the soldiers were baby faced and terrified, who wouldn’t be? I think about their mothers and I sincerely cannot fathom having my son in a war.
Even the so-called lucky ones who are able to stay alive and come back home are forever changed. The mental and emotional turmoil that many soldiers endure not only hardens them, but in many cases leaves them with lasting physical and mental handicaps.
When the missiles went out over Libya last week, I purposely turned off the news because I didn’t want to have to discuss it with my son that day. My son is very interested in current events and while I am glad he is, I didn’t want to have to explain this war to him, especially when I don’t understand it myself. Do we need to be there and send our baby-faced soldiers over there? Is it worth the risk? Will it change Libya for the better, and if it does, how many soldiers will be sacrificed in the process?
I don’t pretend to know everything that goes on behind the closed doors of D.C and I’m sure we know roughly half of what is really going on at any given time, but I cannot reconcile myself with war. I just can’t. I think it’s a no win situation. In certain cases, I can see how we would be forced into it, say if we were under direct attack.
I keep thinking how it might benefit us better to use those troops to help strengthen our own country or drop some food packages and medical aid over Japan. Don’t the people of Japan deserve our help just as much, if not more? What if we used all that extra manpower to guard our borders against illegal drugs and weapons being smuggled in? What if we put the money used for this military action to feed our own starving children in our country, investigate the overwhelmed social services system and its huge backload of abuse cases, or overhaul and fund the strapped educational system?
In the end, it left me pondering one unanswerable question, if I teach my children that violence is never the answer, how do I justify war?