Tag Archive: War


According to CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, U.S. Intelligence officials indicate that Iran may have accidentally shot down Ukraine Flight PS752 while firing missiles during a retaliatory strike.

In total, 176 people were killed, including 82 Iranians and 63 Canadians. Victims also included crew members from Ukraine, four Afghans, three Britons and three Germans.

Trump may be right that, directly, the U.S. was not responsible for crash of flight PS752. However, indirectly, these deaths may have never occurred if the U.S. did not strike down Suleimani.

In the end, it’s always innocent citizens that pay the price for ‘stupid.’

“Hey,” My father yelled.

“What?” I responded.

“You seeing this?” while pointing to Trump on television.

“Hmm,” I nodded.

“You took away my car keys and no longer drive. Right?”

“Yeah.”

“And you don’t allow me to pay the bills anymore. Right”

“Yeah.”

“Then how come we take Trump’s car keys?”

“Ah . . . sigh.”

For the first time since mid-2019, I sat down and watched the news. While US intelligence officials gather in an attempt to decipher the ongoing ‘conflict’ with Iran (we don’t call missile launches and death ‘war’ anymore), we learn Iran may have intentionally targeted locations that didn’t harm US military personnel.

In wake of Iran-U.S. missile strikes, I have listened to several US congressional representatives. Lindsey Graham declared Iran initiated an act of war. Joseph Manchin stated we (the US) is the only ‘Super Power’ in the world. As such, the US has a ‘super’ economic systems, ‘super’ financial systems, ‘super’ military and ‘super super.’ We are just ‘super.’ And should Iran do what we (US) dictate, we’ll all be even more ‘super’ than our previous level of ‘super.

Trump also reassured the nation, albeit via Twitter: ‘All is well.’ Meaning, “Damn, folks. We are good.” Super.

On the other end, Iranian leaders claim they sent a message. Despite this theatrically produced S*** Show, the Iraqi prime minister claims to have been forewarned of the attacks and passed the alert to US troops. However, ‘… mess with us again, you’ll suffer significant pain.

And in the middle is Iraq. Iraqi citizens must be saying, “What the F***?” For Iraqi citizens, it’s like being in a lousy marriage; missiles from everyone. Iranian and US missiles landing in our country. “How the heck do I get out of this marriage?

Good God, Almighty. As Manchin stated, Ain’t everything just ‘super?

In early December (2109), Secretary of Energy Rick Perry incited controversy recently by saying he believes God sent Donald Trump as “the chosen one” — selected “to rule and judge over us on this planet and our government.” Seriously?

Jamelle Bouie’s Op-Ed piece highlights the state of current events. Trump’s actions are reckless but not shocking. He’s not steady, never been. And after three years in office, some claim Trump remains ignorant and incurious. He’ll sacrifice anything to achieve his goal: power and self-preservation.

For Trump, it’s not about us, it’s about Trump. Most know it. But the implications are terrifying. We now understand that how a single action taken by one person could catastrophic consequences. As noted by Senator Rubio during the primary, such a person should never have been given access to the ‘nuclear codes.’

While missiles fire, Puerto Rico residents spent the night outside as aftershocks rocked the island following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake. Post-hurricane aid has been slowed to the island. Trump has said squat. And more than 1 billion animals are now thought to have been killed by the record-breaking wildfires in Australia, according to a prominent scientist whose new estimate is more than double what he predicted mere weeks ago. America has said squat.

Our nation’s leadership is askew. But like Manchin stated . . . Ain’t we ‘super?

Please someone! Get the car keys.

God, the Almighty, has promised to get his revenge,” said the man who will take over for Iran’s Qassim Suleimani. Thus, the increasing cycle of fear and escalating cycle of retaliation is reborn.

Twenty years ago, I visited Northern Ireland. Walking along the haunting image of the wall brought me back to a 60 Minutes report during the early 1970s. In 1974, Morley Safer reported on just how much destruction and devastation Northern Ireland was facing. The conflict was named “The Troubles.”

The Troubles was a violent Ireland sectarian conflict lasting from 1968 to 1998 between Protestant unionists (loyalists), who desired the province to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the Roman Catholic nationalists (republicans), who wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland

Safer was able to gather a group of young Catholics and Protestants. One of the most compelling lines I remember today came from a young attendee. The exchange (not verbatim) went something like:

“Why do you want to kill (him/her)?” Shafer asked.

“Because that’s what my father did.”

In 1995, Shafer returned and met the town doctor, Charles Sullivan. Sullivan told Safer that many children suffered a series of psychological side effects as a result of the war — from nightmares to stuttering. The worst of it, he said, was that children were starting to associate all deaths with violence.

Fast forward to Iran.

The killing of Qassem Suleimani, is probably one the most consequential act taken against the regime in Tehran in thirty years—even if we don’t know what those consequences will be. One thing is clear: conflicts between countries could easily spin out of control.

World War I started after heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated. A 1325 war between two Italian states, Bologna and Modena, killed 2,000 people. It started because some Modenese soldiers took the bucket from Bologna’s town well. A 1925 fight that saw 20,000 Greeks meet 10,000 Bulgarians on the battlefield. The catalyst was a dog that had gotten away from a Greek soldier. The soldier chased after the dog and Bulgarian border guards, seeing a Greek soldier running through their territory, shot him. At least 50 people died.

Mathematician Peter Turchin’s research suggests America’s cycle of violence repeats every 50 years. The surge of violence begins in the same way as a forest fire: explosively. Only after a period of escalation, followed by sustained violence, citizens start to “yearn for the return of stability and an end to the fighting.” And what is that ‘explosive?’ Stupidity.

The commonality between the Northern Ireland conflict, World War 1, the 1325 Bologna and Modena war, and the Greek Bulgarian war is ‘stupidity.’ When it comes to predicting the future, history reminds us of crucial warning signals – heightened rhetoric or the inability to understand the other side. War’s participants fail to grasp how the other side was thinking and feeling.

In spirituality, our morality is founded upon principles, not rules. In Buddhism, these beliefs are expressed in Precepts and include loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. In general, most spiritual principles include kindness, gentleness, mercy, and tolerance. The same is true of most religions. Even the most extreme circumstances do not erase those principles or make it “righteous” or “good” to violate them. Yet, we do.

History shows us how wars start. But history also teaches us how rarely they turn out as planned. History also shows us how difficult conflicts are to stop. Much has changed about war, but certain things remain constant: Stupidity and death.

The only thing that wins is death.

Politik By Other Means

200px-Michael_KalashikovSeveral weeks after his death, the designer of the AK-47, was quoted posthumously as saying his invention had brought him unbearable “spiritual torment” and that torment was unbearable. Designed in the last year of World War II, many would consider the AK-47 a leftover. But the weapon had purchasing power: durability, low production cost, availability, and ease of use. Used by the Russian armed forces for decades, and copied by the Chinese, the weapon is also a favorite of freedom fighters, terrorists, rebels, militants and other non-state actors the world over – featured photo’d in the hands of child soldiers.

But can a designer be responsible for the incredible amount of death worldwide?  Thinking for several days, I’ve come to the conclusion that the issue is too broad for one person’s sole responsibility. There’s a micro and macro level of events that must be parsed over prior to any personal indictment.

On the micro level, I was an 18-year-old post high school graduate when the military plopped an older M14 Sniper Rifle into my hands.  Turns out I was a natural. I could see the wind-blowing via the trees, felt humidity levels and had an eerie ability to calculate distance and wind speed in half a second. I could shoot apples at 800 yards with little effort.

Upon engaging the enemy, there was only God and I. Unless it was night, target acquisition was easy.  Scope to target and variables was calculated, insert the cartridge and halfway through exhalation, the shooter squeezed the trigger. There was always slight recoil, a quick grimace from the target followed by red juice. In less than three seconds, a man’s life ended.

At the macro level, I recall Major-General’s Carl von Clausewitz famous quote, “War is the continuation of Politik by other means.” Technically speaking, a weapon’s designer cannot be responsible for idiocy of leadership.  As Eisenhower said, “… farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” It is true of war as well.

Could any tribunal convict Kalashnikov death by an World War II deigned AK-47 in South Africa when murder received that weapon from a dealer in Botswana, who acquired that weapon from a drug lord in Ethiopia, who purchased that weapon from an arms trader in Lybia, who procured the weapon during a weapons trade one year earlier in Afghanistan who received the weapon from a corrupt military officer in another part of the world? Are not all these traders and buyers equally guilty? And is the rest of world, including you and I just as responsible for turning a blind eye?

Having been in almost every one of the places just mentioned, that murder would have occurred … regardless of weapon of choice.

The longer I live, the more often that question gets into my brain, the deeper I go in my thoughts and guesses about why the Almighty allowed humans to have devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression,” Kalashnikov continued.

The question whether a specific weapon or war is ever justified, and if so under what circumstances, is one which has forced itself upon the attention of all thoughtful men. The objects for which men have fought in the past, whether just or unjust, can no longer be achieved by war itself.  From a personal perspective, from time to time, I am haunted by those last few seconds seen through a scope. I still see the terror and fear.

So I ask you my loyal readers. While I haven’t fired a weapon in the 30 years since leaving the military, I reflect upon Mikhail Kalashnikov comment, “If my assault rifle took people’s lives that means that I, The Unknown Buddhist, … am responsible for people’s deaths?

War is a strange game. Maybe as “Joshua” (War Games 1983 film) said, “The only winning move is not to play.

%d bloggers like this: