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Ben Franklin's bifocals Friday, June 12, 2009

Bridge Engineer John A. Roebling
Older view of the Brooklyn Bridge
[1806 - John A. Roebling, civil engineer, designer Brooklyn Bridge, born in Muehlhausen, Prussia]

Lee Richmond
[1880 - Lee Richmond pitches first major league
perfect game (Worcester 1, Cleveland 0)]

Filipino National Hero Jose Rizal Philippines Flag
[1898 - Philippines gain independence from Spain]

Actor William Lundigan
[1914 - William Lundigan, actor, born in Syracuse, New York]

Producer, Director Irwin Allen
[1916 - Irwin Allen, producer, director, born in New York City]

Actress Uta Hagen
[1919 - Uta (Thyra) Hagen, Tony Award-winning
actress, teacher, born in Göttingen, Germany]

Ribbon Cutting at Cooperstown
[1939 - Baseball Hall of Fame dedicated at Cooperstown, New York]

Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown

Medgar Evers Medgar Evers Arlington headstone
[1963 - Medgar Evers, NAACP official, murdered in Jackson, Mississippi]

Here We Go Again

The war drums have started again. Our new president is sending more troops to Afghanistan and beginning to sound a lot like the old one when it comes to the role of our nation as international policeman. If anything, the problems we face in the Afghan conflict are more complex than those we just encountered and continue to struggle with in Iraq. Nevertheless, on we march pouring blood and treasure into another sinkhole on foreign soil. It should be evident by now that this nation made serious blunders in national policy as regards the military forces and the manner in which they should be employed. The last four foreign adventures with our military have cost well over 60,000 US lives, several times that number maimed and damaged, many hundreds of thousands of dead, injured, and displaced persons in foreign countries, without any significant benefit to this country or its security, and at the cost of trillions of taxpayer dollars. All this without a declaration of war or a legitimate threat to our homeland. It is time to stop this folly.

One notes in passing that the presidents that committed these forces (with the exception of Bush I) had little or no actual combat experience. It is far too easy for leaders who lack firsthand combat experience to send other people's children to fight and die. Nor can we count on the legislative branch to restrain the beast once the Commander in Chief has unleashed it. The decision taken in the '70s to transition our armed forces to an all volunteer force means that the troops who deploy and die are seldom comprised of the sons and daughters of the Congress, the Executive, or our other power elites.

This country existed in a dangerous world for over a century and a half with a very small professional military that in time of war was swelled in its ranks by draftees from all economic classes and from every corner of the land. The costs of war were borne by taxes on the citizenry, and the nation was called to sacrifice so the war could be prosecuted. These conditions served as a natural check on the impulses of leaders to engage in foreign adventures. In these times, with large standing forces, the ability to send the tab for current wars to our children and grandchildren, and little effective oversight of the government propaganda organs by a skeptical press, it has become far too easy to send the Country to war.

William's Whimsical Words:

President Obama is a lot smarter than George Bush, and he has not surrounded himself with a flock of chicken hawks, but he seems to be marching down the same well-worn path.

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