Monday, June 2, 2014


A United States Army Special Forces captain with leaders in Amaloul, Niger, one of the nations in an antiterrorism program, NYT Photo- Peter Tinti

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine …?   I learned that war is not so bad, I learned about the great ones that we've had …  {from Tom Paxton song of the 60’s}
If we teach how to become proficient warriors, how will they become creators for the common good?
You get what you pay for.   This axiom holds for all those we train for war, both home and abroad.

“United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counter-terrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa…. The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
The goal over the next few years is to build homegrown African counter-terrorism teams…
“Training indigenous forces to go after threats in their own country is what we need to be doing,” said Michael A. Sheehan, who …. now holds the distinguished chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.   [Please read the full article, and a companion article on our current clandestine training of Syrian Sunni fighters.]

resident Obama announced in a recent speech at West Point that this is going to be a major focus of our foreign policy now-- training foreigners to fight their countrymen at our behest.  [Not a new idea; the British had their Gurkhas in India.]  It didn't work in Iraq.  It didn't work in Afghanistan, nor in Libya, not even in Vietnam.  But the war industry persists in pervading its military myths.
The outcomes of these preemptive undeclared wars of expediency are all bad, never resolving conflict.  Instead, the memory of who killed who, for whom, persists for generations.
First we’ll consider the damage done to those we teach and equip for war overseas:  next week some of the effects on our own younger generation soldiers and civilians.

The foreigners we make special effort to enlist in our “wars on terror” abroad, have to live in their countries after the war trainers have gone home.  When their countries lose their face value to us, we have a very poor record as to how we treat those we’ve trained to protect our interests by proxy.  When we become disinterested, they become expendable—often targets of enemy factions in their own communities, who now hate them even more because they sided with us.

nd we become viewed in these foreign lands, by nearly all parties, as resource colonists interested in them only for what we want to control and extract—from them for ourselves.  We’ll never stay in their country, never live as neighbors to them, because we've shed too much of their blood, and our own, to achieve our goals.  And our soldiers often become targets of those they've trained to fight with us, never being certain of their true loyalty.   In the end we leave their nations more desolate and depopulated, more divided, devastated by war.

There is a gulf between us and them, whole populations as well as soldiers, because so few of us learn their language, we aren't interested in their culture.  It is this attitude that hurts us.
A former American Special Operations officer said there was a broader lesson for any future Libya training mission: “The take-away here is they’re going to take a lot more adult supervision to make sure the checks and balances are in place, so you don’t have outside militia taking over.”

Treating other people as if they were the children, we the adults, because we have the more powerful life-style.  Do we think we’re smarter because we own more smart phones, drive a lot of bigger machines everywhere we go?  Carry bigger sticks, guns, drone targeting technology?   What does Jesus mean when he says the first shall be last in God’s kingdom?   Pride and greed are our own worst enemies, and this is true for all the influential people in all nations.   Thankfully, God’s unconditional nonviolent merciful love, and saving grace, can redeem us all.  Time to put away the swords, admit we’re sinners, and ask for this saving grace.
 From the Sermon on the Mount and Plain - The underlying truth teaching, heart of the Gospel

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