Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States. I realize that we observe it on the final Monday of May, but it falls on the 30th. The day originally was set aside to commemorate those who had died fighting in the Civil War. It was later extended to honor those who had died fighting in all wars.
Today, my wife and I presided at the funeral of a man who served in World War 2 as a Marine. During my occasional visits with him and his wife (who is a member of our church), I discovered that this Marine's opinion of our current president and the decision to invade Iraq was…well, let's just say that he was deeply unimpressed. (I won't use any strong language at this point!)
"Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle." That's the opening line of a report recently released—not by some left-wing Bush-bashers—but by the National Defense University in Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath. Their main campus is at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC. The report says, “The Congressional Research Service estimates that the United States now spends over $10 billion per month on the war, and that the total, direct US costs from March 2003 to July 2007 have exceeded $450 billion, all of which has been covered by deficit spending.” All of this, during an administration that continues to point the finger at Congress for wasteful spending.
The damage to our standing in the world is also addressed. “The war’s political impact also has been great. Globally, US standing among friends and allies has fallen. Our status as a moral leader has been damaged by the war, the subsequent occupation of a Muslim nation, and various issues concerning the treatment of detainees.”
In his webzine, journeywithjesus.net, Dan Clendenin quotes the late William Sloane Coffin, who said of war, “for every boy turned into a man…there are five human beings turned into animals.” That's why it's especially dangerous to have leaders who think that war is like the board game Risk, or like a video game. We have a president and vice president who've never seen the face of war, but the invasion they pushed so hard for will guarantee plenty more names to be remembered on future Memorial Days.