Original article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As I think back, it seems that there were only a few years of my life when our country
wasn’t engaged in a war. As the technology of war advances and it becomes ever
costlier, it saps the largest part of our national budget. In addition, it has a long-term
I would opine that if we hadn’t fought these many foreign wars, we would not have a
national debt that today is about $20 trillion and growing. At its worst, with the spread
of nuclear weapons, the entire planet is at risk of destruction if we continue to rely on
war to settle disputes.
I was born in 1929. World War I had ended 12 years earlier. World War II started 10
years later and ended in 1945. While I was a college student, we became involved in
the Korean War, which ended in a stalemate in 1953. I should add that I planned to
join the Air Force and serve upon graduation and was disappointed when I wasn’t
called up. I was young and patriotic. I have since learned that wars don’t accomplish
anything for either side.
We became involved in the Vietnam War at the tail end of John Kennedy’s
administration. Under our new leader, President Lyndon Johnson and his Secretary
of Defense Robert McNamara, our participation grew. The time frame was the mid-
1960s and the military draft was still on.
This war was unpopular, especially with young men who were being drafted and sent
into the jungles to fight and die against an enemy whose only crime was fighting to
maintain a communist form of government for their country. There were
demonstrations and riots on campuses over our entire country.
At that time, I was a very outspoken critic of our involvement. Friends would ask me
“how can you be in Milwaukee with no special knowledge and think you can
determine a strategy so different from our leaders.” My answer was: “Only an
acclaimed genius can mislead the majority of the country, and Robert McNamara is
such a man, but his policy will be disastrous.”
I also said the effect of this division in our country will take 10 years to heal. I was
wrong. It is now more than 50 years later, and we still aren’t together. As if this wasn’t
enough, we have had Iraq War I, Iraq War II, the Afghanistan War and now the war
For the blood and money that has been spent on these wars, we could have rebuilt
our country’s infrastructure and given a free college education to every high school
graduate and had no national debt.
Can’t we get smart? Can’t we see that these wars bring only pain and unimaginable
costs? Worst of all, they divide us. I believe that by broadening the powers of NATO
and the United Nations we can establish a workable world of laws and peace.
Instead of individual armies, there should be only one army which would be created
by expanding NATO to include Russia and other countries who could gain admission
by applying. When a country has broken the law as determined by the UN, leaders
of that country fighting against the UN / NATO Army would be considered war
criminals and subject to appropriate punishment by a war crimes court.
Sheldon B. Lubar is the founder of Lubar & Co., Milwaukee.