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The War Of Wills
By Brett Berger September 30, 2004

I just finished attending the funeral of a young man I have known who was killed in Iraq. As I struggled with the grief of seeing someone I knew taken in this way, I tried to put his death into some kind of perspective that would answer the question, why? About 20 years ago, this boy was born. He grew, played soccer, went to school, had birthday parties, became an Eagle Scout, graduated High School, and eventually joined the Army National Guard. His unit was sent to Iraq where he drove a truck. Probably, at about the same time 20 years ago, a boy was born in a mid-east country, maybe Iraq, Syria, Jordan or Saudi Arabia. He also grew but somewhere in his life, he was changed. He was inspired by other men to develop hatred strong enough to kill someone he didn't even know. This hate was so virulent, that he was willing to place a bomb on the side of the road that could kill almost anyone. The boy I knew would never have done something like that. The other boy would have blown up his own countrymen just to have even a chance to kill one American soldier driving a truck.

War is the ultimate collision of ideas. It is not just a contest of arms, but one of national will. Throughout history, there have been infamous men that have been masters at mobilizing the will of others in a diabolical way for their own evil ends. Men like Ho Chi Minh, Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden were able to motivate their followers to commit horrendous acts. In Vietnam, the arms of children vaccinated by Americans, were cut off and stacked in the middle of villages to inspire terror. In Germany, millions of men, women, and children were led to gas chambers and slaughtered, their bodies dumped in mass graves. Today, we see random killings of civilians going about their normal, daily activities and others kidnapped and beheaded in front of video cameras. The boy I knew would never have done any of these things. Though he served in the Army, he did not harbor hate. As he wrote letters home and chatted with our daughter over the computer, he spoke of the children of Iraq and the friendly people that are glad to have a chance at freedom and a life without fear.

We are in a war of wills. Our military cannot be defeated in Iraq but our will at home can be broken. Ho Chi Minh understood this when he said, "You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win." He understood the war of wills and knew how to win it. Osama Bin Laden knows that his terror movement cannot win by force of arms. They can only win the war of wills. He seeks to win this war by killing boys like my friend, newsmen, police, children and others. Our nation has declared this war and our representatives in congress approved of the current phase in Iraq. Our soldiers have been magnificent in winning the war of arms but many of our countrymen have already lost the war of wills and are now fighting for the other side. A recent newspaper opinion article in our local paper began with the headline, "1000 Sons and Daughters and Each a Tragic Waste." The writer of this has the freedom to voice his opinion, but for some reason, he has lost the war of wills and is now fighting for the other side. In my opinion, this is not just exercising the 1st amendment--it is treason.

I know my friend's life was not wasted, as was any American life in the jungles of Vietnam, the fields of France and Germany, or the deserts of Iraq. As evil tyrants continue to mobilize their forces to massacre people and break our will, I pray we can withstand both. As imperfect as our world is, we do not want to live in theirs.

Copyright © 2004 by Brett Berger

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