I’m an Old Soldier. Now My Son Might Deploy to Syria, and I’m Worried

Will my son be ordered to watch as Christians are persecuted?

By Jason Scott Jones Published on April 8, 2017

I was an infantryman. My brother was an infantryman. My father was an infantryman. My grandfather was an infantryman in both World War II and the Korean War. And so on, up through my family tree. I’ve been a soldier in a family of soldiers that has served this country in most of the wars it has fought since its founding.

This week my son deploys to the Middle East. And Donald Trump appears to be changing before our eyes into something none of us voted for. Before long my son could be on the ground in Syria, part of a new American campaign that’s no more likely to produce any good than anything else we’ve done in that troubled part of the world.

Beyond scaring me down on my knees, these facts have forced me to think about America’s legacy in the region. Things are not always as they seem. Remember all the warnings we heard about how Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction? About its ties to the attacks on 9/11? Remember Colin Powell at the United Nations, putting all his credibility, and America’s, on the line, to urge the world to join us? It was based on bad intelligence. Dust in our eyes. Dust in the wind.

The real question now is not whether Assad is a bad guy. Of course he is. But look at the real alternatives. They’re all much worse for religious minorities in the area, including Christians.

Our Broken Promises in Iraq

More important than bad intel from past conflicts, remember the promises we made to Iraq and its people. We swore that we would bring freedom, order, and prosperity. Do we even remember that now?

Iraqis do. With bitterness.

In January I traveled to Iraq and Kurdistan, researching a film I’m making. Its heroes? The one million Christians who were purged from their ancient homeland, right under our soldier’s noses. (Our men were following orders, and the Bush administration never ordered them to prevent it.) I’m documenting these and other religious refugees as they fight for their faith and their families. As they cling to their human dignity in the wasteland we left behind.

As I made my way toward Mosul, I passed through the legacy of our last “humanitarian” intervention. Our last war against a war criminal. Our proud patriots’ achievement stretched out before me as I snaked down the dusty roads: one abandoned settlement after another. Some places with noble and ancient names were now neatly organized piles of rubble.



Here’s what the locals told me: After the U.S. invaded, dissolved their army, fitfully tried to keep order, then finally — under Obama — cut and ran, those towns were captured by ISIS. The men and boys were hunted, the girls kidnapped and raped. The survivors hid out in the hills. Then U.S. airstrikes flattened all the buildings. Then ISIS booby-trapped the rubble and burned whatever was left. And that’s what is left of much of Iraq.

America’s Elite Plays on Our Goodness, But What Results is Evil

While I was still in Kurdistan I finally got overwhelmed. I met with local imams, whose people had suffered alongside the Christians. As The Stream has reported, those groups now fight together against ISIS. They also fight al Qaeda, and its Turkish sponsors and allies. After I heard their stories, I blurted out an apology. “I’m sorry. Americans are sorry that we invaded then abandoned you.”

The imam nodded solemnly, and addressed me with great dignity. “We know that Americans think they are responsible for the actions of their government. We are not so naive. Americans are good people. Your elite must play on your goodness even to do evil.”

A Long Series of Half-Truths & War Propaganda

As responsible citizens, it’s our duty to listen skeptically when men with power call us to war. We owe at least that much to the victims of past mistakes. It has become standard practice in American war-making to take some atrocity, inflate it or invent it and use it to sell a war to the general public. The spurious “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” sold us the whole Vietnam War.

We were sold the first Gulf War in part by the fiction that Iraqi soldiers were yanking premature babies out of incubators in Kuwait. (The “witness” who spoke before Congress was a relative of Kuwait’s ambassador, coached by a PR firm.) There were good reasons for liberating Kuwait. So why did our leaders decide to lie to us? Do they think we can’t be trusted with the truth?

In the three months since I’ve returned to our peaceful shores, I’ve been haunted by what I saw. By the fathers who choked up as they told me what happened to their daughters. By the pastors who were still picking through the ruins of ancient churches. By the ruin left behind by irresponsible politicians. Now I wonder whether my son will risk his life to pile up rubble in yet another country.

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  • Kevin Carr

    I am at a loss as to what I could say. I did serve in those Mid-East wars, not to the degree of an infantryman, just launching planes. I don’t have a child in your son’s position but I do have a special place in my heart for all Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines. Our leaders own them and their families more than anyone else to only use them in the most responsible way if it is necessary. My girls have not expressed an interest in the military, I am glad. When it was me I didn’t worry about if I had to go somewhere, but I wouldn’t want my children boy or girl to go, I feel you on that. I pray for you son’s safety and for all the other troops too. Also, that our elected leaders be more responsible and honest with the American people about putting them in harms way.

    • Wayne Cook

      Well said, Kevin.

  • BroFrank

    I was also involved in the Vietnam war. If I told you what I saw God do, you’d probably consider it too amazing to believe.
    So on to the issue at hand: values that matter.

    The apostle John, in the middle of the Apocalypse (The Revelation) notes what it takes to defeat evil, and the devil. Revelation 12:11 reads:

    “And they overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony . . .”
    . . —and if you ask the average Christian, or even a minister, to complete this quote, they will probably balk (or not know the answer). The concluding words are these: “and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

    When Jesus was marching to Calvary, he admonished the women not to weep for Him, but for themselves (Lk. 23:27).

    Self-pity, and self seeking, do not make a person, people, or a country great.

    You said that Mr. Trump is morphing into something you did not expect. Did you expect him draw red lines, and refuse to support them? Do we expect to see America won for Christ without a real battle? Or . . . did you,perhaps, expect to enjoy Easter and Sunrise Service in a few weeks, without remembering the blood spilled at Calvary?

    We are at war with evil: either you fight it over there, or over here: either on the offensive, or after it has entered your home (and family) and has a knife (or drugs, or corruption) demanding your very life and livelihood. Real Christianity demands real character and stability: not sentimentality.

    But be of good courage,
    His yoke is easy and burden light . . . when we yoke up with Him (Matt. 11:28-30)!

    • Kevin Carr

      I agree with you on your post. I would believe you about what you saw.

  • samton909

    Baloney. The only thing that happened is that once Bush got Iraq and Afghanistan on the way to becoming functioning democracies. Obama came in and ran away.leaving them in the lurch, where ISIS could gain strength and take over. The only problem here is that the American people elected Obama, who wanted to run away. The problem is not sticking with a problem until it is fixed, but taking the easy way out. The reason the Ameircan people took the easy way out was because the media only showed one side of the war. They could not tell what was hapening over there, and so they became disgusted by the whole thing. Once Obama got in, all his advisors were closet Islamists. He brought in people that believed nonsense about Islam, and what the various groups in the Middle East wanted. So he was probably the most ignorant President we have ever had. The fact is, we had better deal with Islam one way or the other. Better to do it over there than over here. The days of pretending we can just run away and hide out are over.

    • Wayne Cook

      Great comment. Agreed!

  • Wayne Cook

    “And Donald Trump appears to be changing before our eyes into something none of us voted for.” Speak for yourself.

    I’d feel the same worry about my kids…that’s normal. But don’t you think your parents worried about you? Near as I can tell, around 50 million of the 62 million who voted support him in this. Me included. We don’t cut and run because something like Syria happened, even if the evidence isn’t all in. The point is, Obama had ruined the respect the world had for our country. Trump is merely doing what most of us who voted for him would do.

    Move on.

  • Aloha12

    Good article. I wonder if any of commenters below actually read the whole thing? Hubris abounds. Anyway, time will tell what Trump does from here, but like you I would not want my son fighting in Syria in effect fighting for ISIS against Asad.

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