Ruth Gadebush

A World in Turmoil

Is war inevitable? At this moment in time? Or always ongoing with us humans? Just one century since “the war to end all wars” we are again on the brink. To be sure, we have not exactly had all peace in the century following World War I as it acquired that number when an even more horrible, more all-encompassing World War II reached out to this nation proving again that the two great oceans wrapped around us did not isolate us sufficiently to protect.

In many ways, the current circumstances seem eerily similar to the Nazi invasion of Poland when one man’s greed, the quest for power and a population willing to follow him into the coveted land of another nation led to atrocities beyond imagination. While wanting our nation to avoid getting involved, I recognize that there is no such thing as a little conflagration. It is only a question of how we are or will be involved.

I am not the only one to wonder if we had gone to the defense of Poland in the 1930s could we have avoided a much bigger war? Horrible as it is, would it be less so if we took even stronger steps now rather than waiting until we are directly attacked? Of course, we must remember that the weapons available a century ago are “playtoys” compared to today’s nuclear weapons.

Then there is another country not wanting to do the United States any favors. Our only hope might lie in Russia and China not liking each other any more than they like us. That is hardly a pleasant thought. At least in World War II, the world was mostly allied into two formidable powers.

Despite the many efforts for peaceful living on this planet, the hopes of the United Nations often lose out to those nations that still believe their destiny demands that they be on top.  Of course, these nations have justifications for why they think they deserve the best. Their intentions are good. Someone else’s not so much.

Nor is our own nation as pure as we like to think it is. Rather than letting reasons come to us for our actions, we often go looking through the thin cloth. Do we dare forget that we went into Iraq under false pretenses? Who among us would deny that our need for oil colors many of our decisions? Was the price we paid in Afghanistan justified by the stated reason for being there? Most of us don’t think so, and we certainly have our doubts about the results.

Did we make a “devil’s pact” by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia that they then used on Yemen? Let us not forget Vietnam. And we still pay the price of refusing refuge to Jews attempting to escape Nazi Germany. There are others, but you get the point.

I haven’t even touched on matters within our own borders, much less on the continent. I still think we are the best, but it is difficult, to say the least, to hold us up as the best on the planet, the example for the rest.

We came perilously near our own downfall in January 2021 from within. Now, with our own people so divided, we are faced with an unknown challenge as to what our responsibility is in this Ukraine situation. This one man is not going to stop unless he is totally wiped out or gets his power demanded.

I am not ready to sacrifice my grandsons or, for that matter, my granddaughters, to a far-off war. On the other hand, the daily news regularly demonstrates the horror, the suffering, the fear and the struggle for life itself. What can we do? What should we do? There are no easy answers.     

Are we already at the point of no return? 

  • Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer, was recently recognized by the League of Women Voters with its Lipton Award for volunteer work in various community endeavors. She was elected four times to the Fresno Unified School District Board, appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and is an emeritus member of the Board of the Center for Civic Education.

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