When people talk about the soldiers who have given their lives for freedom in America, I wish that they’d elaborate. I mean, Saddam Hussein didn’t threaten to conquer the United States. Neither did Al Qaeda. They couldn’t take us over and establish a Muslim dictatorship, right? Probably not, but they were able to disrupt American society in a number of ways. A nuclear missile in their hands is not an attractive prospect! So are our soldiers fighting for freedom in America? Well, they’re fighting for our survival, and we need to be alive to enjoy freedom, so I guess, in a sense, that they are.
With certain other wars, I’m not too certain. How did Serbia affect us? Or Somalia? For these missions, we weren’t really fighting for the freedom of Americans, but for the lives and freedom of others. So, in those cases, we are fighting for American values, but not really for the benefit of Americans themselves.
The necessity of our wars is continually debated. Was World War II necessary to protect American freedom? Yes, if you believe that Hitler stood a chance of taking over the United States (as occurred in that Star Trek episode with Joan Collins). No, if you think that Russia and Nazi Germany could have destroyed each other, without us intervening.
How about our wars in Korea and Vietnam? I guess we were fighting for American freedom, on some level. We didn’t want Communism to expand, since eventually it could reach us. Our desire was to show the world that we were strong, not weak, for that could protect America better. But we lost Vietnam, and we’re still around to tell the tale. The loss of all of those lives really served no purpose. It was unnecessary for our protection. And the South Vietnamese lost out because we did not win.
Are the current wars necessary? Again, that depends on whom you ask. Some think we are defeating Islamic extremists who can threaten America’s safety. Others maintain that we’re only making the Muslims madder, which imperils Americans even more.
Whether or not we are persuaded of the necessity of war, I hope that all of us can admire and respect those who gave their lives. I can say that Vietnam was a waste because we lost, but American servicemen still laid down their lives believing that they were contributing to freedom, of both Americans and also the people of Vietnam. In terms of the current war, I respect those who voluntarily go to Iraq and Afghanistan, for that demonstrates a selflessness that is beyond me.
War is debatable in many cases, but we should still honor those who gave their lives in it. They believed that they were fighting for a good cause. And perhaps, in a number of cases, they truly were.