Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is There Really a War Going On?

World War II ration books that belonged to my parents and grandparents.

I'm not sure it is a good idea to be conducting a war using paid mercenaries. For that is what America is doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After the Vietnam War was derailed by draft resisters--the pictures looked mighty bad on the nightly news--those wacky politicians in Washington came up with an idea they felt would allow them to approve military action, and yet would never get them into trouble with the public.

The all volunteer army was born.

What that has brought about is a nation full of people who believe it is somebody else's job to defend the nation. It puts no one under obligation to the blessings of America.

Since the attacks on our country September 11, 2001, our brothers and sisters have been dying in foreign lands for a paycheck.

All this occurred to me when I found those ration cards you see at the top of this piece, in with all the flotsam and jetsam I'm clearing out of my parents' home. During World War II, Americans skimped on sugar and butter and meat, on tires and on gasoline, so that war production could go forward and save lives and speed up the war's end. So that infantry soldiers would have the calories they needed to march into Germany and Asia.

Americans grew Victory gardens and saved string and aluminum foil in an early form of living the green life, so that, once again, things were not wasted that might be used to help our troops.

In many cases, these sacrifices were organized in Washington to help Americans at home feel they had a part to play. It was tough to see those telegrams coming into towns, day after day, that brothers and sons and fathers were wounded, missing, or killed. Yet if the rest of the country felt it too was sacrificing, even in small ways, it somehow seemed to squalize the burden.

Which leads me to say I think the Bush administration missed an enormous opportunity in 2001, when it did nothing to capitalize on the unity we felt as a nation after the attacks of 9/ll. They seemed to have no talent for psyops, or for leadership, that could take all that anger and patriotism we felt and give it some useful meaning.

Instead we sent out the volunteers. Went back to work. Kept driving our SUVs. Started corrupting free enterprise in the mortgage, banking, and investment businesses. Imported more oil than ever before for our selfish little selves.

I've had two family members serve during this wartime. The whole time they were overseas I kept asking myself: what can I do to help?

But nobody in our government answered.

Somebody up there in the nation's capitol needs to read up on her history. Americans will support even the most terrible conflicts if they believe the cause is worthy and they are included in the work needed to win.

And if you can't convince us at home to help out, maybe we hadn't ought to be letting others die for us.

We have Marines in a big battle right now in Afghanistan. I didn't talk with one person today who said they were worried about those Marines.

I don't think it ought to be this way. I don't think we'll win this way, either.

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1 comment:

Devon C. said...

I agree whole heartedly. The lack of national support, even news coverage, makes Jeff really angry. And when asked what the country as a whole can do to support the troops, politicians give some vague Washington-speak that doesn't mean anything. I've thought about volunteering at the USO, but there isn't one in Panama City. The Bush administration really failed on not getting the national unity working together for the common good.
The big battle the Marines are having didn't even make front page news in the paper here. There are even two military bases here one of them that just sent the largest National Guard deployment since WWII.