Opinion: Why do we continually want to march our soldiers into war?

As a high school student (C ’61) and college undergrad (C ’65), I read everything I could about Vietnam.

It became very clear to me that the public justification for sending U.S. troops was flimsy at best.  The domino theory that the rest of Southeast Asia would inevitably “fall” to communism, if Vietnam fell, was actually an exercise in Marist thinking.

As a philosophy major, I understood that America did not believe in the “inevitability” Marxist interpretation of history, so I knew that the government’s public justification was false.

My research and readings further convinced me that a western-style war, which is what the French tried and failed, would result in a costly mess.  I was amazed that American intelligence analysts had not been able to figure this out.

Despite my misgivings, I volunteered for military service, and then volunteered to serve in Vietnam.  As a USAF officer, I learned firsthand through two combat tours, that we never should have been there.

Years later, I found out that many American intelligence analysts had already figured out what I had eventually learned:  that going to war in Vietnam was an unnecessary and disastrous “march of folly.”

What had happened?  Why had our political and military leadership failed to heed what had become increasingly clear to a college undergrad, and what many in the intelligence community already knew?

Today, we are unfortunately being informed that the march of folly continues.  Intelligence analysts warned against the Bush II invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein. They foretold the disastrous mess that followed.

And we are also being told that there was definite intelligence that a complete troop withdrawal in Iraq, given the destruction that we inflicted during and after our invasion, would create fertile soil for the rise of extremist religious Jihadists like ISIS.

So what happened?

Why do our political and military leaders continue to expend American lives and treasure, even when there is definite information and intelligence that there will not be positive outcomes?

I am neither a hawk nor a dove, and I do support the military.  But it seems to me that political “leadership” in my lifetime, from Presidents Johnson to Bush II to Obama, has been sadly lacking, and that political expedience has been prioritized over real national security, despite intelligence to the contrary.

Mr. Greco is a Scottsdale resident.

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