American has had a history of involvement in war in one place after another since World War II ended.

We were engaged in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. The war was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by the Allies at the end of World War II. The United States pushed the UN Security Council to authorize military intervention in Korea and then provided 90% of the soldiers involved. It was our war that ended badly.

The Vietnam War lasted from 1961 to 1975. Our government decided that America's involvement in the war would prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam and was a strategy of "containment."  Over
Pope francispublic protests we sent young men to fight  there.  58,220 United States military members died in the war. The benefit of the war is still  debated.

In 1983 the United States invaded Granada, a Caribbean island following a military coup. Our excuse was the presence of American medical students and the island. The United Nations Gen. assembly condemned our invasion as a flagrant violation of international law.

In 1989 the United States invaded Panama using the justification the protection of the Panama Canal shipping lane.

In 1991 the United States was involved in a war known  as the "Gulf War" after Iraq invaded Kuwait but we were careful not to invade Iraq as a declared war under George Bush's father. 

During the 1990s the United States was involved in wars in Bosnia with United Nations forces. 

In 1993 an American-led United Nations force was involved in a war in Somalia.

In 2001  the United States intervened in the war in Afghanistan and remains there to this date. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011 in Pakistan, but the war in Afghanistan however continues. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in this war.

The United States invaded Iraq March 20, 2003 under George Bush. We are still involved in the war in Iraq as of today. Some 50,000 US troops were designated to be advisers in September 2010 and in 2011 the US announced that the war was over withdrawing United States troops except for advisers. Significant violence continues in Iraq and the number of US military who lost their lives exceeds 4486.The number of civilian deaths is significant. 

The financial cost of these  wars is staggering and the ongoing, never ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain the troubled economy to a  large degree.

The question is: Was our involvement in these various wars worth it? Korea was described as "a police action" to  stop the spread of  Communism. The Vietnam war was likewise described as needed to stop Communism. China and Russia were seen as the  enimies we needed to resist as taking over areas. We got into Afghanistan after a disastrous involvement by Russia and found we could not extricate ourselves  so we are still losing our military as casualties. Everyone knows the Iraq story of lies and  misrepresentation to get us into a war that never should have happened.

So, are we as Americans better off for having been the the policeman of the world? Is that the role we want, to invade every country that has internal conflict or a dictator who abuses it's citizens? Whether we get involved  in yet another war in Syria depends upon how you see America's role in the  world in that regard. But, one  thing that I think is not subject to debate is that there is no way to have a "limited" involvement in Syria. The assurances  of a quick and limited involvement in Iraq  were soon proven unreliable. Whatever action is planned for Syria Newton's  laws of  physics will apply: For every action there is a reaction. 

I think it utter foolishness for the United States to take any action in Syria and that doing so will cause  far  more harm than good. Pope  Francis has asked  for prayers of peace  and with that I am in full agreement. 


  1. “Flagrant” not “fragrant”. You’re thinking of when Hugo Chavez appeared at the UN after GWB and said he could tell the devil had been there before him because he could smell sulfur.

  2. I agree that our wars have rarely accomplished what we originally sought. Desert Storm may be a recent exception. And, the excursion into Kosovo probably saved thousands (most Muslim) lives. My perspective is influenced, I am sure, by 23 years of professional military service which took me to wars and “hot spots” all over the world. The military — used properly — can do good. I have seen it. I favor peace but I am not a pacifist. Obama has put himself into a difficult situation. He created a “red line” for the Syrians during an election period speech. The comment was primarily for the benefit of the Israel lobby and made with the anticipation that Assad would never use the weapons even without a threat from the US. So much for assumptions. It’s true that what happens in Syria has little or no bearing on US interests. But, American credibility does. Obama threw down a gauntlet and Assad picked it up and slapped him in the face with it. The Russians, smelling opportunity, have joined in the fray and are seeking to gain influence and portray themselves as a world power when, in truth, they are no more than a regional power. (They miss the good old days). If they can embarrass Obama, so much the better. Whether Obama fires Tomahawks at Damascus or not will likely have little influence on the situation in Syria. It may well have repercussions on future “red lines” where US interests are actually at stake. For example, suppose we announce that Iranian nuclear weapons or North Korean nuclear tipped missiles are “red lines” for America? Both situations have potential national security ramifications for the US. How credible is that ultimatum if Assad gets a pass on gassing civilians? Bluffing can be a very effective political tactic. Machiavelli praised its use 400 years ago. But, you must always be aware that your bluff may be called. How you respond to the called bluff as a political leader can determine whether you are remembered as a great statesman or you wind up as a footnote in an obscure text. Lots of parallels with trial practice, aren’t there?

  3. Beautiful poem, full of meaning and associations for me. I have spent many years worrying about things over which I have no control, like the past like the future. Thank you Fr. Rock for this wonderful reminder that Jesus did not kill time He gave life to it , His own.
    My husband and I had a wonderful friend some forty years ago. A jesuit priest named Leo Rock. He was a psychologist and was studying in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, at the University of St. Paul’s. We spent many wonderful evenings discussing many subjects. We lost
    touch over the years. I was looking for signs of him when I came across your poem on Google. Our Leo Rock would be about 83 years old today. Is there a way we might find him?

    Mary Bourdeau, and Robert Bourdeau, Canadian Photographers, living in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.

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