The News

I’m out of town for work followed by vacation but thought I’d share my take on some recent news stories.

  • There is no way to predict the outcome of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear treaty with Iran. Our European allies, those that joined us in the treaty, have condemned the decision. It does appear to me that the absence of a treaty combined with President Trump’s rhetoric will give us only two options if Iran openly begins developing nuclear weapons: 1) Let them get away with it (something President Trump promised he would not do) or 2) go to war with Iran. Remember that Russia is Iran’s ally.
  • The jury found Bill Cosby guilty of drugging then sexually assaulting women. More than fifty women have told similar stories about Cosby. If even one of them is true he belongs in prison for the rest of this life.
  • Need a little inspiration? Watch this video of a man who is quadriplegic playing the national anthem at a sporting event on an instrument he invented.
  • I really don’t care what Kirsten Dunst plans to name her baby.
  • Although I have doubts about North Korea’s sincerity, I do appreciate President Trump’s ability to have three Americans released who had previously been held in North Korean prisons. It is possible President Trump’s rhetoric is having an impact on NK but it is more likely that North Korea is bowing to pressure from China, NK’s largest trading partner. Also, North Korea may be offering to “dismantle” its underground nuclear development facility because it has actually already collapsed and they don’t have money to rebuild it.
  • The most interesting video on the web during the last week was Fox News host Neil Cavuto calling out President Trump for his inability to consistently tell the truth. Watching this Fox News clip made me wonder if Cavuto had been reading my blog in recent months! About a year ago Fox’s Shepard Smith also accused the Trump White House of “lie after lie after lie” regarding the Russia scandal.
  • Fifteen years ago Clara Harris, a dentist, caught her husband cheating. They argued. She ran over him with her Mercedes then backed up and ran over him again a couple more times. She was convicted of murder but was released this week after serving fifteen years. I only have about 150 one-line reactions but I think I’ll keep them to myself. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
  • This week Senator John McCain stated that he would vote against President Trump’s CIA nominee. In response one White House aid, Kelly Sadler, responded that “he’s dying anyway”. Anyone who thinks that is OK should stop reading my blog. The incivility permeating our nation’s capitol (and that of many states) is sickening. Sadler should be fired but I doubt she will be. The White House refused to apologize but did criticize its own staff for leaking the crude comment.
  • I don’t think I’d hire Rudi Giuliani to represent me in small claims court much less to help with the Russia scandal. Geez… he says some really stupid stuff!
  • Need more uplifting news? My wife and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary yesterday proving that angels are real. Only an angel could have tolerated me so long!
  • Are you a sucker for happy dog stories? Then you will love this story about a beagle that was scheduled for euthanasia. It snuggled its new owner all the way home from the shelter after it was adopted. I’m not crying, you are crying!
  • The slow moving disaster resulting from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption is one of those events that is both devastating and fascinating. The destruction is like a bomb blast in slow motion. Lots of folks have lost their homes and other property. Mother Nature constantly reminds us who is in charge.
  • Louisiana’s Democratic Governor, John Bel Edwards, sent letters to 37,000 Medicaid recipients telling them they might be losing their nursing home care and other healthcare services because of a budget shortfall. Yet another example of misplaced priorities and lack of compassion.
  • Want another dog story? A Texas police officer responded to a call about a “vicious” Pit Bull roaming the street. As it turns out the pup was a big sweetie and the officer befriended her and she jumped into the offer’s squad car for a photo op. The happy pup was later reunited with her owner. More proof that stereotypes of all sorts are misguided.
  • I’m pretty impressed that I’ve written 750 words so far and have not mentioned Stormy Daniels once!
  • Queen Elizabeth II has given her consent to Harry and Meghan’s upcoming marriage. 1) I don’t care and 2) isn’t that just weird?

My wife and I are exploring the national parks of Southern Utah the next week so I may not write again for a while.

I wish you peace and happiness.

Thanks for reading!

The Costs of War

When the rich wage war, its the poor who die” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war” (John Adams)

Older men declare war, but it is the youth that must fight and die” (Herbert Hoover)

“War, h’uh
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothin uh-huh, uh-huh
War, h’uh
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothin”   (Edwin Starr)

Since 1776 when America declared our independence we have been at war 225 of our 242 years. That means we have been at war 93% of our history. During the last 100 years America has sent more than 39 million of our citizens to fight in foreign wars and at least 630,000 did not come home alive. Another 1.2 million came home seriously injured. Author Craig Biddle accurately summarizes the experience for those who died or were injured:

Each of these Americans was or is a real person with real values, goals, dreams, loved ones. Each experienced his or her body in some way being violated, impaled, crushed, blown up, or torn apart. The families and friends of each have suffered a kind of pain for which there are no words. General W. T. Sherman famously said war is Hell. But war is worse than Hell. War is real, and it destroys people’s lives.”

As a society we often get so caught up in “who won” a particular war that we forget the real questions such as how many people died or were displaced and how much money was spent.

Here are a few facts about America’s most recent wars:

  • Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 America has spent more than $5.6 trillion (yes, with a “t”) fighting wars abroad, primarily in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. At current interest rate projections that $5.6 trillion will add another $7.9 trillion to the U.S. debt by 2056.
  • Approximately 10.1 million Afghans, Iraqis, and Pakistanis have been displaced from their homes since 2001. At least 200,000 civilians have died as a direct result of these conflicts, and that is a VERY conservative estimate. Almost 400,000 people (including military personnel, etc.) have died. Several groups actually estimate the death toll at 1.3 million.
  • Every hour Americans pay $2.25 million to cover medical expenses for veterans who have waged our war on terror in those and other countries. The total cost at this point is almost $290 billion.
  • Every hour we also pay about $10 million on the interest on war debt incurred since 2001.

What about other wars?

  • World War I took the lives of about 9 million soldiers (116,500 were Americans) and 12 million civilians. Another 21 million soldiers were wounded.
  • In World War II more than 405,000 American soldiers died. A total of approximately 60 million people died, 2/3 of whom were civilians. 
  • The Vietnam war took the lives of at least 58,200 American soldiers, 1.1 million North Vietnamese fighters, and up to 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers. It is possible as many as 2 million civilians died.
  • Approximately 5 million people, half of whom were civilians, died during the relatively brief Korean War. Almost 40,000 Americans died and 100,000 were wounded.


  • During the seven year civil war in Syria a half million Syrians have died and another 11.7 million have been forced from their homes. Most of the dead were civilians.
  • Thanks to the war about 50% of Syrian school-age children are currently not in school.
  • By the end of 2014 the unemployment rate in Syria had reached 57%. Compare that to an American unemployment rate of about 4%.


  • In 1994 almost 1,000,000 members of the Tutsi community were slaughtered in 100 days by ethnic Hutu extremists. Neighbors killed each other and even some Hutu husbands slaughtered their Tutsi wives to avoid being killed themselves. Thousands of innocent Tutsi women were kidnapped and forced into sex slavery.

Any other depressing statistics?

  • Yes. But I think I’ve made my point.

The reasons humans go to war are too numerous to list. Wars are fought over territory, religious differences, socioeconomic factors, conflicting ideologies, economic gain, revenge, nationalism, to bolster a political leader’s popularity with voters, and for countless other reasons.

Although the causes of war are often unclear one fact is almost universally true: those choosing to wage the war are probably not the ones most directly harmed by it. The poor, the disenfranchised, women and girls, and children suffer disproportionately. In general, war is waged by folks from the more privileged classes and they tend to suffer the least.

President and former general Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.”

But military expenditures are great for corporations that provide equipment, munitions, and military-related services to the government. In fact the United States Government spends about $600 billion per year on military and weapons technology. In 2015 that consumed about half of all federal discretionary spending. Lockheed-Martin, consistently the top beneficiary of such spending sold the government more than $36 billion in equipment that year. Expenditures on war and war machinery mean less money government has available to spend on education, infrastructure, and social programs.

War causes civilians to suffer in other ways. Unlike in the old days when soldiers from opposing armies just lined up and charged each other thus killing lots of soldiers but almost no civilians, modern warfare uses techniques that do not differentiate between killing soldiers and killing civilians. During the two world wars, for example, wide-scale bombing was employed against military-related targets but “collateral damage” (civilian deaths) became the norm. The same is true of current bombings in Syria and other countries. Notice that in all the statistics provided above civilians died in higher numbers than did soldiers.

And soldiers obviously suffer. Many suffer permanent physical damage to their bodies, but it has long been recognized that exposure to the violence of war also has a permanent impact on the psychological well-being of many soldiers. The U.S. military recognizes this reality and provides a number of treatment options for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after seeing combat.

I’m not naive. I understand the need for military and I know that at times countries are placed in situations making it difficult to avoid war. However, I also know that nations sometimes (often?) go to war using flimsy evidence or other questionable motives.

Can war be avoided in contemporary society? Probably not unless we could somehow pass a universal law requiring the political leaders themselves and their families to be active combatants. I really doubt most leaders would declare war if they personally had to actually fight!

I apologize for getting you to this point and not having concrete solutions. The literature on war’s causes and ideas regarding how to avoid it is extensive but inconclusive; there are just too many variables and too many different reasons war erupts. I can offer a few ideas to consider, however.

  • Pay attention. Don’t get drawn in by the sword rattling of political leaders who try to convince us that war is unavoidable.
  • Begin electing more women to political power. It is almost universally true that men start wars and display greater aggressive behavior than do women. Men are more likely to commit crimes and engage in cruel behavior than are women. It is time to begin turning control of the planet over to women. Providing education for girls throughout the world is essential.
  • Promote democracy and capitalism. Countries guided by principles of freedom, individual rights, and economic competition rarely go to war with each other. Instead they tend to cooperate because of trade advantages.
  • Find ways to reduce the gap between rich and poor throughout the world. Although many groups claim religion as their cause for violence the truth is that many of these young men are poor and disenfranchised and see no hope for the future.

I keep hoping for a global shift in consciousness that would not tolerate war, but I’m a child of the 60’s. I do believe that, like slavery, war was invented by humans and enlightened societies can eliminate or at least minimize it.

If you’ve followed my blog you know that I’m a dreamer.