I remember sitting on the side porch in the 1950s and feeling relief that, in the event of World War III, we were within the radius of the nuclear attack that would most certainly be delivered to Norfolk Naval Base, so I would not be around for the aftermath.
If Trump wins, I can comfort myself with that same thought.
Drs. Joel Howell and Sanjay Saint think that the phrase “boots on the ground” to mean persons in the military needs to be retired as demeaning and dehumanizing. I certainly do not think of Captain First Son, USA, as a “boot” (though there were times I was inclined to give him one).
Methinks they have a point. Here’s a bit of their column from the Detroit News:
Some will die there. Some will return home injured; many will receive care at VA facilities.
These people have lives, friends, loved ones, and all too often dreams lost and hopes abandoned on account of what happened to them.
“Boots on the ground” implicitly invites the reader to think not about the many individuals who serve, but instead to reduce those people to a single article of clothing, one that in its uniformity belies the many different types of people who wear those boots.
I will give a dollar to a doughnut that most of those who so casually use the phrase “boots on the ground” have not served. They would send the children of others into harm’s way.
But times have changed, and now corporations have a legal responsibility to maximize short-term profits for their shareholders. They’ve started sexing up, spicing up and bloodying up the news to boost ratings. And 24/7 news channels have to amp up the shrillness to make recycled news exciting enough to watch.
In a sense, news has become entertainment masquerading as news. Now an event is not news, it’s a “crisis.”
The drek to information ratio of TV news, cable or not, is off the scale.
The last time I watched a television news show was a couple of years ago when we had (I kid you not) a white Christmas. We watched local TV News reporters standing around shocked! shocked! I tell you, that below-freezing temperatures are cold and slippery streets lead to car crashes.
Culled from a larger article about a veteran’s efforts to provide a means of therapy to other veterans by encouraging them to write about their experiences, here is the nasty truth that the mongers of war want you to ignore (emphasis added).
The Mexican War began when President Polk cited an attack on American troops in Texas – troops he had deliberately placed there to provoke Mexico. The Spanish American War began when President McKinley claimed that the battleship Maine had been blown up by Spanish saboteurs; subsequent investigations showed that the explosion originated inside the ship, probably due to an accidental fire in the munitions compartment.
Read the rest to see how often this pattern has repeated.
The next time you hear the war drums beating, be very skeptical.
The first of these is a deep-rooted sense of our own best interests. Most Americans understand fairly well that we don’t want our sons and daughters in miserable places such as Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine standing at risk to their lives between people who want to fight over something that has nothing to do with us.
The second is that we as Americans have a very short attention span. Notice, for example, that Syria, an intense passion not long ago, is now sloping off into channel-changing obscurity.
The third grace that may save us from self-destruction through meddling in other people’s affairs is a decent sense of what is really important to us.
Bloomberg’s Pankaj Mishra, published in the Japan Times, questions the relevance of Cold War thinking–and Cold War thinkers–now that the Cold War has been over for almost a generation. He suggests that recent domestic drumbeating about Crimea is, at least in part, an attempt by Cold Warriors to regain their think-tank mojo (and their think-tank gigs).
Forced into premature retirement by the unexpected collapse of communism in 1989, this thinker re-emerged after Sept. 11, 2001, convinced there was another worthy enemy in the crosshairs: Islamic totalitarianism.
Unchastened by a decade of expensive, counterproductive and widely despised wars, these laptop generals have been trying to reboot their dated software yet again as Russian President Vladimir Putin formalizes his annexation of Crimea.
He goes on to suggest that confrontational Cold War thinking led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as the USSR reacted to its perceptions of American intentions. (We experience the long-term effects of that whenever we stand in a security line at an airport, for that nurtured the Taliban and other forms of Islamic political radicalism, including Al Qaeda).
Follow the link to his article for his arguments. Follow the second link to learn more about the common origins of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, Chauncey Devega dissects the compulsion of old men to send young men and women to their deaths, using Bill Kristol, leading drum-beater for the Great and Glorious Patriotic War for a Lie in Iraq, as an example. A nugget (do read the rest):
The Face of Battle is a book that attempted to recreate for the reader the front-line soldier’s view of battle at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. It does not paint the pretty, romantic picture portrayed in your average movie or television show.
I have read it. You should too.
Here, Thom speaks of the face of battle. His words are directed to President Obama, as they were in the context of Syria, but they apply to everyone who casually advocates blowing stuff up (something, it should be noted, that President Obama does and did not do).
Eric Garland explores three American myths about America and war.
Here is his list of myths and a nugget from the discussion. Follow the link for a discussion of each myth and of how they have led us into misadventure.
Myth #1: America has to act.
Myth #2: America’s actions are benevolent.
Myth #3: America can win wars.
. . . .
An uncritical acceptance of mid-20th century mythology is what led to such catastrophic strategic errors in America’s wars of adventure. The United States led a cadre of allies into what is historically known as the “Graveyard of Empires,” Afghanistan. While removing the Taliban from the failed state was an imperative, supported by moral justifictions and realpolitik, we should have known that the task of securing the country would require total focus and dedication. After all, President Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski suckered the Soviets into doing the exact same thing as a way to ruin them.
“Credibility” has great power in national security debates.
In reality, the credibility gambit often combines sleight of hand with lazy thinking (historical parallels tend to be asserted, not demonstrated) and is a variation on the discredited domino theory. This becomes apparent if one examines how it is being deployed in the debate on Syria.
Making a futile and pointless gesture, one that is agreed will ultimately accomplish nothing, though, will most certainly undermine “credibility”; such is politics a laAnimal House.
This trap opened with the Iranian Revolution and continued with the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. That historical event contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union but created a psychological trap for the West, that of invincibility. That led to the first Gulf War and insidiously and cumulatively developed into a direct threat to the West slowly dragging us into a vortex of barbarity, self-deception and degradation of political life.