By Ryan Honl 

Pray The Politicians Will Think


War is never pleasant. With pretty much anything available on the internet these days it's easy to get desensitized to the pictures. A quick google search of "war dead bodies" and hitting the "image" button will show pictures of the dead from the Civil War at the start of photography to Ukraine today and give pleasure to even the worst sadists.

During the Gulf War of 1991 as a green, young 18-year -old enlisted man, I had the opportunity to witness war's death machine. My combat engineer battalion cleaned up after the infantry, gathering POWs and stacking the Iraqi dead like cordwood. I remember looking down at my Army tan work gloves at the end of the day drenched in blood thinking I was a real John Wayne. Giddyup. Then the machoness fades, time passes, and you can't get the pictures out of your head living with them for the rest of your life. The Gulf War was a "clean war" however on the TV screens. Even CNN got into it. Our military got in a line; air force, then tanks, then infantry, then us the cleaners, then the logistics trains. They rolled along on a three day blitzkrieg that destroyed dozens of Iraqi field armies. Back in the day before digital photos, emails, texts, or Skype, I carried a small throwaway Kodak camera. It depicts scenes of trucks destroyed by Air Force A-10s with the charred drivers glued frozen to their steering wheels. We had to peel their hands off to get them out into a stack. Another is an Iraqi military motorcyclist hit by a 25mm Bradley fighting vehicle round. He was still alive with a leg blown off raising his hands in the air as we drove by and I snapped a picture before moving to the next objective. I particularly remember Lee Greenwood singing God Bless the USA" being played to us by some very fine-looking flight attendants on the way back to the states and the parades that followed. Glorious! Johnny comes marching home again! Hurrah! Where's the next war CNN can cover?

Well there were and are plenty since then. America has been in constant war since 9/11. Don't let the propaganda fool you. We recently finally left Afghanistan in a tragic display of disaster literally leaving pieces of our dead on the airfield after a 20 year war, the longest in US history. However, we still have active Army units in Iraq neatly tucked away from the public eye, while the politicians tell us that's all over. We have active units in the Syrian Civil War. And now we have active units in Ukraine. Last time I heard President Biden, all the suddenly war hawk democrats, and most neocon republicans said "There'll never be US boots on the ground!" Well, then there was the National Guard guy who leaked state secrets and the White House finally having to acknowledge that we have Special Forces on the ground and contractors conveniently not in military uniform training the Ukrainian Army in the middle of a war. And God knows how many CIA and Delta Force operatives that will never be acknowledged by our government when they are killed. All wearing boots. On the ground. The most comical statement from the administration was that "Oh those SF units are at the embassy in Kiev for protecting the embassy and making sure weapons are getting to the right people." What a smack in the face of the Marine Corps detachments assigned to protect embassies. Now I wasn't SF but have many West Point classmates I talk with regularly who are retired SF and none told me that SF units pull security at embassies or bean count weapon supplies in some embassy office. Don't believe the garbage. This nation is at the start of another war. And we're talking about a big one. We're just a Gulf of Tonkin incident away. Any Vietnam vet, and we still have several in Roseau County, can tell you what that fiasco was about before we sent full divisions there, ultimately resulting in half a million troops and 50,000 dead. You can get a heck of a history lesson on that one at any monthly American Legion meeting in Roseau. You should come and listen.

That's just dealing with Russia. We've also agreed to defend Taiwan against a two million man Chinese military with a billion more citizens to tap into. These people are literally building islands in the South China Sea for staging areas to attack Taiwan. They aren't spending any of their time on woke policies, gender neutral bathrooms, or men wearing panties in the foxhole. One thing I will credit President Biden or actually whoever handles him with is that he didn't send in the whole army to respond to the errant Ukrainian missile that landed in Poland and killed two people last year, with the war hawks from both sides of the aisle crying "Russia! Russia! Russia!" pushing for a retaliatory response from NATO. A cooler, some say emptier, senile head somehow prevailed. Then there was the downing of the US drone operating along Russian territory in the Black Sea. At any moment a miscalculation could end up turning the world into a nuclear nightmare and then everyone on the planet will have war experience if only for a nanosecond before we're vaporized. We in Roseau County are a stone's throw away from the nuclear missile fields in North Dakota, the bulk of our arsenal, so don't expect a bunker of any size to save you. I live out in Pencer and with the river the ground is too wet anyway. Grand Forks Air Base is the nuclear arsenal's headquarters. Can anyone say with a serious face that Hitler wouldn't have pressed the red button if he had it before he killed himself in the bunker in 1945? Yep, Hitler was a very bad guy like Putin but for the survival of humanity a little extra diplomacy even with Hitler might have been warranted in the face of total world annihilation. So now, instead of diplomacy, we declare Putin a war criminal. He's a cornered rat and when, not if in my opinion, he is eventually deposed and finds himself in a bunker, he's got the red button for the largest nuclear stockpile in the world. There are no easy solutions, but brains before brawn might at least be worth a try.

Yet again we have a commander in chief with 50 years of butt time in Washington DC but with no first-hand war experience. The last one was George Bush Sr. He knew if we went to war it had to be quick with overwhelming resources and then get the hell out. His son who got out of Vietnam on his daddy's connections led us into a 20 year war that continues until today with a depleted military, unable to meet any recruiting numbers by the tens of thousands. What's left? Prayer would probably be a good start, and then real diplomacy without the war drums of the military industrial complex paying off both republicans and democrats that Eisenhower warned us about 70 years ago. Oh, and he was a President with plenty of war experience too. Cooler heads like his have sometimes prevailed. Let's hope and pray that the current and future occupants of the White House can prevail against irrational hothead decisions. All of our lives depend on it.


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