Military force may not work anymore |

Military force may not work anymore

OK, I take back everything I said about the folks in Nevada City being old. I left work Wednesday night around 1 a.m., sauntered on down to Miners Foundry, and there they were – dozens, if not hundreds, of them rocking for peace.

OK, “rocking” might be an exaggeration, but everyone was mostly awake, the stage was alive with Nevada County’s finest performers, and you got the sense that enough rocking had been done earlier in the evening; everybody was ready to take things down a notch. Certainly no one back in North Dakota knows how to throw a peace vigil like my new neighbors out here do. It was not a bad way to spend the night.

The whole “peace” thing rings especially true with me lately, because I’m 26 and people around me keep making jokes about how I might get drafted. I don’t want the government to try and draft me because I’ve seen how they drive in Canada and I don’t want to experience that on a daily basis.

Whoa! Put your dictionary down, Grandpa McCarthy! I’ll tell you how to spell “commie pinko,” but first, gimme a couple more paragraphs to elaborate.

I have no qualms about dying for my country or, more specifically, the ideals upon which this country was founded. We’re all gonna die anyway – so we should be so lucky to sacrifice ourselves for liberty and justice for all.

So, no problems with the dying, but I take issue with killing for my country.

I take several issues, in fact, especially nowadays. In the first place, however conservative you may be, if you have a brain in your head, you should be suspicious about the Bush administration’s motives for attacking Iraq. Even aside from little-reported contradictions in the underlying logic – e.g., Saddam Hussein may be thoroughly despicable, but he’s a (relatively, of course) progressive Arab leader unlikely to ally himself with Islamic fundamentalists like al-Qaida – the simple truth is that oil is a major stake in this contest, and our president and vice president have a heavily vested interest in oil. Suspicion should be common sense. I mean, what if Bill Clinton had tried to invade Sweden because of American concern over promiscuous blondes? Someone would have called him on it.

More important, it seems increasingly apparent to me that military force may no longer be an effective or appropriate way to resolve international conflict. As wars go, World War II was awfully justifiable. Hitler clearly needed to be taken out – he approved, promoted and committed atrocities Saddam could only aspire to. Plus, 50 years ago, it was relatively simple for the Allied powers to conquer and physically contain their Axis enemies.

World War II won peace within the West. But our wars since then – Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War – well, maybe it has something to do with Western civilization encountering foreign mindsets, but those wars never resulted in clear victories. Nobody seems to be able to tell me what happened in Nam, even though they were there; and we may have blasted the hell out of Baghdad 10 years ago, but clearly, we didn’t accomplish much besides exacerbating ill will, because now we’re going back to fight the same guy again.

So I guess we’ll see how it plays out in Iraq this time. Maybe the U.S. will march in, overthrow Saddam, restore calm and prosperity to the populace and engender the goodwill of Arabs all over the Middle East.

Maybe. I hope so, because if that pipe dream can come true, then world peace ought to be right around the corner.

Josh Wimmer works on the copy desk at The Union. His column appears every other Friday. E-mail him at

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