This letter appeared in the Times-News (Twin Falls) this week:
"Why America can win wars and lose the peace:
We don’t accept the rules established long ago in a far off land. You go to war when attacked or when you want or need something others have. When you win in either case, you take the spoils of war. That’s how England, Spain, Germany, Rome, France (under Napoleon) and all other major powers did it. That’s how they became world powers.
You may choose not to accept the concept, but it will change nothing. After the Second World War, we helped Germany and Japan recover. That recovery has caused the international decline in the value of the US dollar, allowed our own economic recovery to suffer to the extent that we import goods that we used to export and we export jobs that put Americans in a position where they can ill afford to buy the goods they used to make.
We went into Iraq, not to keep the world safe for democracy but for the oil. They have it and we need it. If you don’t believe that, I’d like to sell you some waterfront New Orleans property still under water. The problem is if we accepted the rules, we would not =be getting gasoline for 29 cents a gallon.
It isn’t as if we have never known the rules; we took the land from the natives who were here when we came. Oh, it isn’t as if we stole the land, we gave them glass beads, junk jewelry, cholera and smallpox. But we got the land. It’s just in recent times that we’ve lost the vision or the honesty to admit the way things work."
Here is my response:
"Vaughn Phelps recently wrote about the “spoils of war”. According to Mr. Phelps, the European “powers” got their power by winning wars and taking the spoils. He wants us to believe that the US should “accept the concept” and do the same. He even goes so far as to blame the declining dollar and the trade deficit on our efforts to reconstruct Germany and Japan after WWII. I guess his thinking is that we should have conquered and enslaved them, at least economically. However, Mr. Phelps’s line of argument fails to remember that Germany was taken as spoils of war after WWI. Historical perspective teaches that Germany’s economic enslavement to the other European powers resulted in a Nazi-Germany caused Holocaust and the continent-wide destruction of WWII. It’s safe to say that the world learned its lesson. Instead of heavy handedness, we extended the hand of forgiveness and showed the axis powers countries a better way. They have in turn rewarded the world with technological advances and competition that has forced US companies to be better. And because their economies have prospered, they have fewer reasons to seek the “spoils” that war offers.
This strategy can work in Iraq as well. Let that nation be a beacon of democracy and free enterprise in a region of oppression and poverty. Let’s help Iraq prosper just as we helped Germany and Japan. If we are successful, the world will be a better place for them and for us. And we won’t even need any “spoils” to make it so."
This letter was printed in the Times-News Sunday, June 25, 2006