E-mail Exchange: U.S. Army SFC David Garlits, Bronze Star, and Professor Kirstein

From: Dave Garlits
Sent: Wed 6/14/2006 12:16 PM
To: kirstein@sxu.edu
Subject: WAR

Sir,

On your website would you please balance the information about the Iraq War with information about the illegal wars fought under the Clinton, Kennedy, Truman, Roosevelt and Wilson presidencies?  I do not recall an instance where Serbia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Vietnam, North Korea, Germany, Italy or Germany (again) significantly attacked the United States.

More than 2,500 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have died in the Iraq War, but more than 59,000 Americans died in Vietnam, 54,229 Americans died in the Korean War, 400,000 Americans died in WWII and 116,516 died in WWI.  All of the major wars of the 20th century were the responsibility of Presidents who were Democrats.  Also President Clinton's "Operation Desert Fox" resulted in 2,000 Iraqi deaths in 1998.

I understand that you are against war, as am I.  (All Soldiers are against war, because we are the ones who must fight and die)  I also understand that you speak from the far left on all issues.  Please balance your hatred for the political right with truthful information about the guilt which lies on the LEFT!

Sincerely,
SFC David Garlits  

Balad Iraq 2003-2004
An Nasiriyah Iraq 2004-2005
Bronze Star awarded July 2005                                                          

(S.F.C. is sergeant first class which is higher than a staff sergeant and lower than a master sergeant. It is a rank of an N.C.O. (non-commissioned officer) at the platoon level and is sometimes called platoon sergeant. PNK)

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From:david.garlits@us.army.mil                                                                      Sent: Fri 6/16/2006 1:32 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Cc: marybeth.mall@us.army.mil
Subject: Re: FW: WAR

Hello Peter,

Yes it was I who sent the e-mail. I'm just so tired of the media slant on all of the negative things happening in Iraq. 

We all know that explosions in marketplaces that kill children sell more advertising on TV than the installation of water and sewage systems or paying Iraqi teachers more money (and taking Saddam out of the textbooks). Improvements in the quality of life for most Iraqis will not make the news.  We are being fed a diet of "Natalie Holloway missing in Aruba" and think that makes us well informed!  It is ironic to me that our press (who will howl if their first amendment rights are threatened in the slightest), will not make a story out of the fact that there is now freedom of the press, TV and radio in Iraq!  Before the war, there was only one media outlet in Iraq, SADDAM!

Saddam Hussein was a horrible being (not to be called a human).  He made the Iraqi people suffer terribly during his dictatorship. He tortured many thousands of people at Abu Ghraib long before Lyndie England joined the Army!  He filled the desert with mass graves.  His own son tortured athletes when they failed to meet his expectations, how sick is that?

I have been stationed in Germany for a few years (with a couple of trips to Iraq) and can tell you that the anti-war, anti-Bush propagandists have done their job well here.  I bought a newspaper the other day with news of Iraq on the front page.  The German clerk remarked that it was horrible and all Bush's fault.  I replied that many hundreds of thousands of good Americans died to make Europe free, and that we really had no business here.  Our involvement in WWII was all Roosevelt's fault and America should never have come to Europe.  She was amazingly silent after this.

In a conversation I had with an older German man, he mentioned his love of JFK and how much he hated Bush.  I reminded him of the fact that JFK started the buildup of troops in Vietnam which led to over 59,000 US deaths.    That's quite a bit more than the 2,500 lost so far in Iraq.

Between February and May of 1968 (the Tet Offensive), 4,962 US Soldiers died and 31,204 were wounded.  If I am correct, that was during the Johnson administration.  Hooray for the "Great Society"!  I guess Bush has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to match the "death toll of the Left" in the 20th Century…….

Sincerely and respectfully yours,
SFC David Garlits

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From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Fri 6/16/2006 7:19 AM
To: david.garlits@us.army.mil
Subject: RE: FW: WAR

Dear SFC Garlits:

Thank you for responding to my request for authenticity and allow me to respond to both of your e-mails.

Your first e-mail:

I agree with you that wars are not merely the product of conservative presidents. I have written fairly extensively on World War II and have made more recent commentary on the Democrats who have refused to generally oppose the Iraq war. I have no particular preference for the Democrats and did not vote for either VP Gore or Sen Kerry. For the record the numbers of K.I.A. in Korea are closer to 35,000 than the figure you provided. This was reexamined a few years ago and so that is one bit of good news I suppose.

Your second e-mail:

I agree that the press coverage of the conflict has been less than satisfactory. I imagine, however, our perspectives on why that is so may not be identical.

Paragraph 1: I don't believe that democracy has been brought to Iraq other than some formal trappings because of the security situation, the occupation of American forces and the lack of a functioning Iraqi government.

Paragraph 2: There is no question about the brutality of Saddam and I have always acknowledged his dictatorial methods. However, when I debated David Horowitz in March, I argued that in many ways Iraq is no better off today than it was under him. That is how bad the situation is in country.

Paragraph 3. I am also quite close to your views on WWII. I did not believe the US should have entered the European war. I believe the America First Committee was very sound and have agreed with many of Pat Buchanan's views on that conflict. Certainly Nazism was an aggressive, violent, intolerant force but our bombings and targeting of civilians in that war was of a magnitude approximating their horrors. Of course German opposition to the Iraq war preceded the invasion so they have been consistent.

Paragraph 4: Excellent point and when I teach about the Vietnam War, I emphasise how Kennedy in so many ways contributed to the build up. 600-16000 troops; Green Berets; use of helicopter gun ships, napalm, artillery etc.

Paragraph 5: Yes TET was during LBJ  which led ironically to his not seeking another term and to the agonizing slow disengagement from Nam.

You are knowledgable and I appreciate your contacting me. I have addressed several Veterans Organizations and interestingly when I was suspended for my email with Cadet Kurpiel, the Air Force Academy tried to protect my liberties and free speech.

While I cannot condone a war that I oppose, I do hope you were not wounded and I noted your service that you indicated.

May I post these email on my blog and/or website? Do you have any restrictions you would like me to honour if I do? I will give you a week to respond and if I do not hear, I will post them. Out of respect, I will not if you ask me not to. If I do any editing, it will be inconsequential and to remove extraneous items.

Sincerely,

Peter 

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From: david.garlits@us.army.mil
Sent: Sun 6/18/2006 8:47 AM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: WAR

Peter,
Well I would have to say that your response surpised me.  I am so used to talking to people who are completely one sided.  You do seem to have a broader, less biased side than I originally expected.

I signed up for the military over 20 years ago and have never regretted one moment of it.  When we volunteer as servicemembers, we understand that we can have personal opinions just like anyone else in America, but we are duty bound to fulfill our obligations.

If there is one thing that the years have taught me, it's that there is rarely, if ever, anything in the world that is black and white, right and wrong, left or right.  It really hurts to see that discourse in this country has come down to the "Hannity and Colmes" level.

Please understand that when I say I'm against the war, what I mean is I am against war so much as it is an extension of failed politics.  We Soldiers are the means of last resort when world leaders fail to reach agreements.  I would much prefer that people like Kofi Anon (name spelled wrong on purpose…) would do what they were hired to do and find a diplomatic way to enforce their "resolutions."  What good does it do to be "resolute" and not be prepared to take action?

Since we are one of the biggest contributors to the U.N., I think we need to find out why it has been such an expensive failure.  I don't have any alternative solution to offer to the problem of the U.N.  Maybe someone smarter than I can think of something.

I appreciate your comments also.  It's interesting to have a conversation with educated people of principle.  Please publish anything you like of mine (as long as it's not going to make money for anyone, then I would like a cut! capitalism rules!)  The best thing about being in the military is defending your freedom to say and think anyway you like, and to do it in public!

Respectfully yours,
SFC David Garlits

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From: Kirstein, Peter N.
Sent: Sun 6/18/2006 1:18 PM
To: david.garlits@us.army.mil
Subject: WAR

Dear Sergeant Garlits:

Thanks for permission to post e-mail. I will post it on Blog first, then later link it on Website.

I agree with your observation that politics and other areas of inquiry are rarely "black" and white." That is why this country has done so much damage to the world. Whether it was "atheistic communism" or "Radical Islam" or "terrorism," this country seems to glorify in having an enemy that personifies evil. We claim to be morally superior as leaders of the "free world" or "civilised world" as if we are not a grave threat to international peace and security. It is used to scare the American people, justify the inordinate amount of money and treasure that is wasted on power maximising and the ruthless pursuit of empire. Indeed, greater humility and nuance one would think could more readily be embraced by a superpower than a lesser power that can make no errors in its vital interests. Our government is shameful in its failure to speak and act in a manner that is intelligent, honest and understanding.

The United Nations is a confederation as it were in which the whole or sum is weaker than its parts. Consisting of sovereign states, the U.N. cannot operate without considerable consensus. The failure of diplomacy to prevent the Iraq war was not the fault of the U.N. but the fault of the United States for ignoring the work of the inspectors and the majority of the Security Council. The U.N. certainly needs reform in terms of administration, budgeting and Security Council enlargement. Yet the U.N. is an organization that the United States cynically uses when it needs it and abuses and marginalises it when it feels constrained by it. The U.S. government, and it really is a criminal government that wastes its soldiers and finite resources in a useless crusade that cannot be won, must recognise that surrendering some sovereignty to the U.N. is in America's and the international community's interest.

Best wishes and good luck.

Peter N. Kirstein
Professor of History
St Xavier University
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From: david.garlits@us.army.mil
Sent: Sun 6/18/2006 3:01 PM
To: Kirstein, Peter N.
Subject: WAR
Peter,

Like it says in the bible (can't remember what book or chapter as I don't read it that often).  "There is nothing new under the sun."

I would like to refer you to a short article/book called "War is a Racket" that was written by :

Smedley Darlington Butler

Major General – United States Marine Corps [Retired]

Born West Chester, Pa., July 30, 1881
Awarded TWO CONGRESSIONAL MEDALS OF HONOR, for capture of Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1914,
and for capture of Ft. Riviere, Haiti, 1917
Distinguished service medal, 1919
Retired Oct. 1, 1931
Lecturer – 1930's
Republican Candidate for Senate, 1932
Died at Naval Hospital, Philadelphia, June 21, 1940

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE FULL TEXT OF THE BOOK:

http://lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm

Sincerely,
Dave Garlits

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