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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
     Wednesday, October 22 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Unconventional wisdom, perhaps

Those who receive these pages via the Nanty Glo email list may have seen an exchange on Tuesday evening between another member and this writer that surprised even me. "Dennis" said, replying to another list member, "nobody won the Vietnam war or any other war," which led me to conclude that I had to say something as a counterpoint. I'm certainly not "for" war in an abstract way and there is undeniably a sense in which everyone loses in every war between nations and peoples. I concluded far before its end that the Vietnam War was unjustified and I supported its curtailment, though the reasons it became an unjustified quagmire strike me as far more complicated than "war is always wrong."

I'm strongly inclined to think there have been far more unnecessary wars than necessary ones. But some have been necessary and in the testimony of history and human experience, some have been worth the risks. Everyone loses something in every war, but sometimes enough people gain enough to offset the losses—gains like freedom from oppression, torture, exploitation, slavery. It's right to come to the aid of our neighbors even at risk to ourselves; "no love has any man than that he lay down his life for his friends," Jesus said, and it's still the best argument for any war. World War Two is held up as the most obvious example of a justifiable war. Japan's imperialism and Hitler's genocide had to be stopped.

Dennis' contrary opinion strikes me as the conventional wisdom; no one has ever got a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize by making my present case. But the cold war against Communism had to be fought and won, even at the risk, for decades, that it might at any moment turn into hot war. Likewise, the war on terrorism cannot be avoided, though after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 most tried to put it out of their minds and wish the terrorist threat away.

Another point of "conventional wisdom" about our present war in Iraq is that it's a war for oil. The comedians make us all laugh by their simplistic juxtapositions of our military presence in the Middle East and the world's most productive oil fields there. That is why we're there, through our treaties and our oil companies developing their fields and buying much of their surpluses.

That's true, but it's not as simple as "conserve our oil and we won't have to depend on their's and we won't have to be there." One complication that trips up that "wisdom," in my opinion, is that it's not as much about oil as it is about power. If we don't buy the oil surpluses of the Arab world when we can, our strongest competitor nations will do so. Even to the extent that buying oil there now helps us keep our own supplies producing decades longer than if we depended only on our own supply, we're preserving our national strength and international influence longer. History, especially that of the 20th Century, has shown that national strength is like commercial and industrial strength. If you aren't gaining market share, whether you're a department store, television network, or supermarket, you're becoming vulnerable to a takeover. The same is true, I humbly submit, of states and superstates.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

Shakespeare invented the words "assassination" and "bump."

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

I AM THANKFUL

FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH WHO SINGS OFF KEY
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT I CAN HEAR.

— Sent by Alice Prewett 

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