Appropriate Times to Wage War

November 14, 2011
A few reasons why we should go to war.
From the American perspective, we fight for freedom above all else. We will boldly step onto the battlefield if our precious values like religious freedom and freedom of speech are endangered. This has been true dating all the way back to the Revolutionary war when the colonists fought off Britain’s reign of control.
Having gained independence, terrorism has become the new dominant issue. Blunt, violent threats against America endanger the freedom of living and are not tolerated. When delivering his presidential address to the nation, Bush justified the call to war in Iraq by claiming that “the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country…” (Bush). After 9/11 when nearly 3,000 Americans were killed, it was decided by the country’s leaders that a zero-tolerance for terrorism would be adopted, and that to protect our people, war in the Middle East was necessary.
More than just freedom and protection of our people, Americans value loyalty which is why we fight for the freedom of our allies. Gwynne Dyer who wrote an article about Western involvement in Libya, describes the West as “acting from genuinely selfless and humanitarian motives” (Dyer). Why is it that the West gets involved in military matters not directly affecting them? Because we want to save innocent lives, and assist other countries in gaining freedom.
However, even though America has good intentions for declaring war, some unnecessary moves are made. One in three veterans sees the Iraq and Afghan wars as a waste. These veterans were surveyed by the Pew Research Center and proclaimed that “America should be focusing less on foreign affairs and more on its own problems.” Nearly 6,200 U.S. troops have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the cost of this warfare has risen to over 1 trillion (1 in 3). Does America, 14 trillion dollars in debt, need to donate borrowed expenditures towards a war effort that may or may not be necessary? And what of the astonishing numbers of innocent lives lost?
The ideal solution would be to decide meticulously about when to go to war, and to wage war as infrequently as possible. Martin Luther King Jr. suggested that the solution would be “finding an alternative to war and human destruction” (King). While searching for an effective peacemaking strategy, however, action must be taken when prominent threats are presented, for the protection of America. Dinesh D’Souza claims in his article “America the Beautiful: What We’re Fighting For”, that in some instances, “the direct use of force may be necessary” (D’Souza). For example, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning and killed about two and a half thousand Americans, Roosevelt saw no peaceful alternative but instead declared war on Japan the next day. Such drastic and damaging attacks on the country should be neutralized, because if terrorists and enemies believe they can greatly harm America and continue forth unscathed, then America will be subject to even more aggression.
On the matter of coming to our allies rescue, Charles Bragg, staff sergeant with 18 years of experience in the U.S. military, wisely acknowledges that “We should help [allies] fight off tyranny, but only to the point that we do not weaken ourselves or our defenses.” Loyalty to allies is important, but the survival of America will always be priority. Therefore, it can be concluded that if the war in Libya, for example, is weakening the defense and resources of our country, that it is not a wise occupant of American soldiers.
A responsible country is one that considers the consequences of impending war for the country. If it is decided that the only way to avoid catastrophe for Americans is through the use of military power, then so be it. Regarding other, less crucial threats to America, like independence of our allies, extreme caution must be taken to ensure that the country is not weakened when we assist them. War will be inevitable sometimes, but if we are careful in deciding when and where, America will be more secure.





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