Lee Wilkinson

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War. Do we really understand the consequences of it?

I lived in the US when September 11th happened, just outside DC. I remember people being interviewed as to what we should do and I remember clearly two mothers on either coast being independently asked if we should go to war? They answered the question in a similar way "I have a son in the Army but I am willing to pay the consequences." A year later the country was up in arms about the mental state of the young men and women who had been sent into combat. they had gone with the best of intentions but had returned a different person or sadly returned in a box. It seems that as we are loosing the last part of the generation who served in WWll we are only now understanding the toll it took on them. In Great Britain it was frowned upon for a man to be open about his feelings so my parents and grandparents generations just stuffed their feelings, as time has allowed us to open up we are seeing the depth of the trauma of war.

So I would ask, do we really understand the consequences of war?

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      Apr 16 2011: Thanks, Richard, that's a thought-provoking video. There is a human dimension to military action. It's easy for those of us not directly involved to remain unaware, or to be aware of only one side. It's easier still for politicians to subvert the human dimension under various forms of patriotic and ideological rhetoric.

      As for corporations and profitability: We should not be surprised by companies built on a profit motive to take actions that are profitable. It's the role of government to enact laws that mediate those actions to avoid inequitable treatment of individuals.
  • Apr 27 2011: War is always evil. Sometimes, occationally, it is necessary. But it is always evil.
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    Apr 15 2011: I don't think the average person could, unless they went through it.

    I recall one of the last conversation I had with my Poppy before he passed. He was a gunner's mate & a cook in the navy on a warship that headed out four days before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He described to me three times he could've lost his life, and with his hands trembling, he said, "Because Jake died, (his only brother) they sent me home. I would've met my maker eventually." Before then he rarely ever talked about his service. I think he liked to pretend it never happened, and instead honor the memory of Uncle Jake. One summer he hung up Jake's old canvas hammock in the apple tree for us. (They sent it to him on accident, where his went he never said.)

    The human consequence of war makes men very broken. I know many Afghanistan & Iraq vets that clearly have an inherent personality disorder or are medicated to the gills from the VA because of post traumatic stress and repressed memory amnesia. One told me that he wakes up in the middle of the night believing someone is there to kill him; Once he was choking his girlfriend at the time. The other re-enlisted after questioning whether he was REALLY alive. He said it was like waking up to Groundhog day everyday. His days felt blurred together: He would come ready for work even though he wasn't scheduled to work that day.

    It's sad to see the WWII generation vets fading away. With them, most psychological secrets as to how they dealt with traumatic experiences will be lost. On the whole, we are on our way to realizing what they may have gone through and how to help them. Unfortunately, progress will be slow, as mental health (especially for those exposed to war) is still a taboo for some.
  • Apr 28 2011: Hey! I'll add my two cents before it closes!

    To me war itself is only a consequence. It's the consequence of our repeated failures to respect, understand and accept each other.There's no winner in a War, as soon as you step in a war, it means you failed. No matter how holy or how righteous your motives are, having to resort to violence is the biggest display of our weakness as human beings.

    I sometimes think about all the problems we could be solving together, if we weren't wasting our time hating each other.
  • Apr 28 2011: the most important consequences of war is Oil and is understood well.
    war is a business rather than battle.
    and every business has a business plan.
    this is logic of war (also logic of animals like wolf competing on food):
    what is in my pocket is Indeed mine and what is in your pocked is mine also.
    when people learn this logic they are humans:
    what is in my pocket is mine and what is your pocket is yours
    and humans learn this logic they are angles:
    what is in my pocket is yours and what is in your pocket is yours.
    if capitalism gulp all the world then will say:
    is there any other world to eat?
    did you know Libya has largest Oil resources in Africa and has 8% of total Oil of world.
    what is the real need of a human?
    a piece of bread and a glass of water.
    do you know what is a capitalist?
    a capitalist is a labor who collects for heir except cerement for himself.
    heir says: what a bad dad! why did not collect more? money finished soon.
    do you know what is best thinking?
    when see a derelict home, ask it:
    where are your sojourners now?
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    Apr 17 2011: A fascinating question, Lee. I think a good consideration of the question should function along two different axes:

    1.) Personal experience: In one sense, it depends on what you mean by 'understand.' I think there are ways that those who serve and those who don't serve only have part of the picture. I also think those who see the toll on physical/mental health of those who served and those who don't see those things also have only part of the picture.

    2.) Objective knowledge: In general, however, I think there is much too small a percentage of those who are not educated/informed enough to have an accurate idea of the overall effects. The system does WAY too much to sweep vets under the carpet (often by letting them fall through the cracks into invisible areas of our society), and that includes hiding the full statistics and pathology patterns from public eyes as well.

    3.) Personally, I think there should be a lottery: anytime politicians decide we need a war bad enough to send our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, nephews, ourselves, to get shot, they should have to draw lots and a handful of them should be randomly chosen to go too. I don't mean some cushy desk job either; I mean front lines getting shot at. Maybe then we'd have a little more wisdom about what oil contracts are worth dying over.
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    Apr 15 2011: Until you are stabbed, shot, beaten, and/or watch your friend(s) die you cannot begin to understand what war is and isn't.

    The Iraq/Afghan war has more veterans protesting the war than any other war in history. I was merely a child when our country said yes to war, if it was to happen today I would be at the White House steps screaming bloody murder.

    A few thousand innocent lives does not equal the justification of almost a million innocents dead on foreign soil. But, it's okay "God Bless America" right? Putting faith behind killing makes killing all the more ignorant and evil.

    Lee, I do not understand the consequences of war, but I do know thinking about it puts me in dismay.

    Suggested reading "Johnny got his Gun"

    Favorite quotes about war:

    "Bombing for peace is like f***ing for virginity"

    "War, where old men talk politics and young men die"

    "We cannot have homeland security until we realize the whole world is our home"
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      Apr 15 2011: I love quotes but right them off as fluff a lot of the time (mine included) I have to say though, very poignant quotes.
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        Apr 15 2011: Thanks Lee

        interested in why no one else commented on your thread here.

        Touche subject? Those are the best! really when people start conflicting with themselves the most!
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      Apr 28 2011: Birdia, thanks, I watched the video but I really could use a further explanation so that I understand its purpose.
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          Apr 28 2011: Wow! this is one of the most innovative artists that I have seen in some time. Thanks for introducing me.
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    Apr 28 2011: Thank you all for the input on this thread, it was thought provoking and touching. Regards, Lee
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    Apr 28 2011: http://www.ted.com/conversations/2408/obama_s_birth_certificate.html

    "Now a question for you. The result of America's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan killing over a million civilians, does this make Americans evil for their ignorance of these deeds? Are we in bad nature for not being fully aware of these actions of great destruction?"

    If we are subject to the will of the majority as social creatures and the majority is making uniformed and even sometimes ignorant decisions then that's certainly a bad thing.

    Being the only self-aware animals we really should consider ourselves sort of ambassadors. Neglecting that responsibility is like neglecting our children and being uninformed about issues that have such wide consequences is exactly that.”
    - Deaven Morris
    • Apr 28 2011: democracy=vote
      capitalism=money
      money=media
      media=advertise
      advertise=think of majority
      capitalism>money>huge advertise>changing think of ordinary people (majority)>changing votes>changing decisions>more money for capitalist

      http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.sahih/6:116
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        Apr 28 2011: S.R

        I am just glad your not talking about God, lol

        Those connections are not wrong but not full, there are a lot of details in which need to be considered into the debate. As I suggest to Lee, please read what I posted on that thread. I took a few hours into thinking about how to articulate those statements. Referring back to old papers I wrote and what not.

        Thanks.
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      Apr 28 2011: I believe the problem is that when we are so removed and guarded from the actual events it's easy to place them at the back of our minds. When people die in war they do not die heroes or soldiers or warriors, they die as people. People who will never see their families and friends again. They die in pain and with their bodies torn apart in many case. They die afraid and if the public was to see this and indeed all of the civilians as well they would I believe have a different way of thinking. However because we romanticise war by every time someone is killed we immediately say they were a hero it tends to anesthetise us from the pain and horror of the event. So are we to blame in any way? I would say no because we are ill informed as to the horrors of war.
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        Apr 28 2011: I don't know Lee,

        As deep as you are I cannot believe you do not see a bigger issue here.

        Please do me a solid and read through some of the things I said in that thread.

        I agree with you but not entirely.
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    Apr 28 2011: The outer war is a reflection of the inner war.
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    Apr 26 2011: Of course we don't Lee. Who would have said that in order to redeem the loss of the 5,000 lost in the World Trade Towers we would choose to lose 5,000 more American soldiers and have 35,000 wounded and then add 150,000 additional casualties in Iraq alone.
    The math doesn't make any sense.
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      Apr 26 2011: The problem is, a % loss is accepted in the military. My concern there is that we enter into a conflict with that in mind so if we loose less than the % which the ranking officers have deemed satisfactory then it was good day and a price well paid. To me the loss of one life is a % too much.
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        Apr 27 2011: I agree that each individual life is priceless and is not worth trading for revenge.
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        Apr 27 2011: lee nailed it. we should, as humans, be able to solve any imaginable conflict with out life loss.
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          Apr 27 2011: Hi Richard, To answer your question I have cut and pasted a response that I made to another of Lee's posted questions.
          "I have always wondered what if- America- the most powerful nation on earth had turned to the Christian philosophy and had turned the other cheek even it they did not forgive. I have wondered how the world might be different if they had taken all those lives and money and had invested it in their own nation making it safer, stronger and more caring. It they had said "Screw you- you got us once but you will never get us again because we will take such good care of each other that not one of us will be vulnerable to you again. Maybe it sounds pie in the sky but if they had invested all that money, time and effort into their own society and into their own traumatized kids they would still be the envy of the world - NOT to mention the moral leader of the world. Any oppostion would have been utterly demoralized in the face of their goodness and courage..."
          I know that war from the sidelines seems glorious to many young men but to the women who love them and to the women who gave them life it represents so much loss and waste and pain.
          And with respect - I think they should never have been armed and then pissed off in the first place.
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          Apr 28 2011: I am not a historian Richard but I am sure that there must have been times when the greatest superpower of the time swatted away the attack of less than 20 men. In the ancient middle east one of the most secure places was Petra which chose a defensive position from the start of its civilization. What I was advocating was not NO response but rather a response that built their society- not tore it down.Just because something has not been done- because it is the dominant ego response - does not mean that humanity cannot learn and get past it. Isn't it obvious in hind sight that the cost was too high?
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          Apr 28 2011: Richard, as I told you before, Je t'adore mais..... I think of you as sort of a romantic hero who want to see the glory of all that is good in defending what is right. I am a woman who gave birth to 4 sons and a daughter and the epiphany I got looking into their eyes for the first time was..if this life is so precious to me...all others must be precious too. The numbers just do not make sense. Of course, there are times when life is barabarous and we must fight to defend our own lives and those of people around us. You might find me unexpectedly purposeful and proactive in a highjacking but the idea of going half way around the world to stomp out the protests of people who have decided they can no longer live under the conditions we have helped to impose is NOT for me.Not only do I never want my kids to go to war and die- I do not want them to kill anyone. I think it mars and distorts them for life. Funny how most 'volunteers' come from poor families. No senator's sons go. And the echos of Hiroshima is still echoing on.

          I wonder if it is because I believe in your essential goodness and humour so much that I have so much genuine affection for you even though we disagree so completely?
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    Apr 16 2011: Lee, I think there was an ethic that accompanied WWII. The soldiers, children during the depression, were called to arms was in response to military aggression. The moral situation for many was unambiguous. Perhaps that setting helped them to cope (or forced them to cope) with the emotional and psychological effects.

    Many wars are more ambiguous. It's difficult to stir a patriotic fervor to inspire a battle against a dictatorship half a world away with no apparent direct threat. In that context, soldiers may have less sense of honor in having served, and less incentive to simply cope.

    I don't believe governments, in deciding to go to war, consider the psychological effects on the soldiers. On the other hand, they likely do factor in the emotional response of voters.
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      Apr 16 2011: I agree about the moral reasoning. I would have to say that WWll was for the Allies the most legitimate war we have known. Still, the emotional toll it takes and the images it impresses on the mind which can never be removed are difficult to endure. And as you say when we are fighting in a conflict which to us has no real significance it's doubly difficult.