Dan, The Gay Patriot West takes a somber but somewhat hopeful look back at Verdun, a mind-numbingly horrifying carnage, and the only major battle in Iraq, Fallujah.
"That World War I (WW I) battle began with a German offensive aimed at crippling the French and ended with the French pushing the Germans back and regaining lost territory. When the battle had ended, each side had suffered approximately 400,000 casualties, roughly half of that total being fatalities. (Some estimates put the total number of causalities closer to one million.)
More soldiers were killed at Verdun than the total number of U.S. troops deployed in Iraq."
Good lord! That hit me right in the guts. Imagine all of 'em gone...in one battle. I can imagine Dan reading that number and thinking the exact thing I did. It damn well better have been worth it, and that blood spent to gain peace. And yet:
"When the French finally succeeded in repulsing the Germans from Verdun and later, with the help of their British and American allies, in defeating their once-proud army, they had no interest in rebuilding a shattered nation and instead sought, through the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, to cripple the vanquished power."
And we all know how well that one worked out. So the flower of European manhood lay dead and we gained.....?
"Unlike the victors at Verdun, our leaders have, even before the war started, had an idea of the victory we wanted to achieve. Instead of humiliating Iraq as the Allies humbled Germany after WW I, we seek to rebuild our erstwhile adversary. On September 12, 2002, President Bush told the United Nations:
The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond."
The whole calculus of war is changed when it is fought for noble goals rather than conquest. I already have my answer as to whether anyone died in vain in Iraq. Absolutely they did, everyone one of those 72 goat aspiring jihadi scumbags died in vain. We are undertaking a bold and difficult venture trying to nurture freedom in the most tyrannous part of our world, but that is how all great things are accomplished.
I also believe having a warrior class returned triumphant from battle will be a pacifying influence on the country as a whole. The tremendous sacrifices of WWII ensured that those enjoying the prosperity it brought would be mindful of never allowing it to happen again.