The relationship between Iran and the U.S. has been rocky for decades.
There was the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 when 52 Americans were held against their will inside the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
In 1988, the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 people including several children.
Our support of Saudi Arabia, a country that certainly has a long history of human rights violations, has further pitted us against Iran.
Then of course there's Israel, our biggest ally in the Middle East and a country that's a major enemy of Iran.
Even when we have appeared to be fighting a common enemy in ISIS, there have been skirmishes between Iranian-backed militias and U.S. troops and interests.
No, the beef between the U.S. and Iran is certainly not new, though many seem to believe this all started in recent months with the attack of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, the bombing of Saudi oil facilities and the assassination of a top Iranian general.
What is new is this marks the first time a U.S. President has been in the middle of an impeachment trial while ordering a direct attack against Iran. Regardless of how you feel about the impeachment process, it certainly does have an impact on this situation. Did President Donald Trump decide to push the envelope with Iran now to deflect from what has been a rough few months for him stateside?
Trump told us Iran was plotting a major attack against U.S. interests, but we haven't been given many details to prove this assertion. We were also told by the government that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before we launched an invasion there, but that wasn't true. Likely you already know this, but in case you don't, government doesn't always unveil its true intentions. Governments also make mistakes.
If Trump really wanted to get tough on Iran, why didn't he do more militarily when they were aiding the murderous Syrian President Bashar al-Assad? On that note, Democrats who have been so righteous about war over the past week should realize that Hillary Clinton had pretty much made her will known during the 2016 presidential election. She wanted more done in Syria, and she wanted us to step up to Russia and Iran for the butchery they were helping al-Assad commit in Syria. That could have put us in the same situation we're in now, though at least we would have had a clearer picture of why we were at odds with Iran.
People talk about patriotism as if it can only be experienced by those who want war. It's almost a bully attitude — show aggression against us and we'll blow you to smithereens. That philosophy hasn't paid too many dividends for us in recent military campaigns. Almost 20 years after we thought we'd walk through Iraq and establish a new government there, we're still mixed up in a conflict with relatively little to show for our efforts other than thousands of dead people and more enemies. We celebrate recent successes against ISIS as if they weren't created because of our lack of understanding the situation in Iraq before we decided to invade a country. We seem to have a knack for creating bigger messes when we engage in many of these global military campaigns.
We're on the brink of doing the same in Iran. We stand to gain little and lose much in another war where the intentions are murky at best.
Patriotism isn't just about flying our flag and supporting our troops when they go to war. It's about holding our leaders accountable. Why are we doing this? Where's the evidence that Iran was about to attack our interests in such a way that it required assassinating a top general and putting more American lives at risk?
Patriotism is about keeping those troops safe by not putting their lives at risk unless it's absolutely necessary. Patriotism is about ensuring that our military isn't being used as a political pawn.
No, I'm not a veteran. Yes, I've seen the cost of war. I've watched my father, a Vietnam veteran, die before his time after suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. I've interviewed men as they wept while speaking of brothers who died brutal deaths while serving our country on foreign soil. I've attended the memorials of young men who were barely old enough to vote who were killed during combat missions in Afghanistan.
This opinion piece isn't intended to suggest there should be no wars. There are evil people in this world and sometimes, war is the only answer. But we shouldn't question someone's patriotism because they don't believe we should fight another war in the Middle East. As Americans, freedom is our biggest ally, but we throw our liberty to the wind when we accept what any politician tells us as the gospel just because we voted for them in the last election. We owe it to those troops, and frankly, ourselves, to demand transparency when lives are at stake.
Also, while you're praying for the troops, don't forget to pray for peace. Millions of civilians have lost their lives because of the wars this planet has endured.
No one wins in war. It should always be a last resort.
Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.