Memorial Day 2015: war is failure

“It turns out that the national security state hasn’t just been repeating things they’ve done unsuccessfully for the last 13 years, but for the last 60.”

There was a time when I thought there were bad guys and good guys, and they were very easily distinguishable.

But now I think war is failure. Even a “just war” may be, at very best, the least bad outcome. And usually, just a bad outcome, with war profiteers (Blackwater, or whatever they’re calling themselves now). Pope Francis got it right this month: “Many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.”

Any American born since 1984 has spent at least half of his or her life with the country at war. My life’s percentage is only about 40%.

We go to war in Iraq. Some of us thought it was a mistake at the time. Others discover it later, realizing we were lied to. Now, the calls by some to go war with Iran ring hollow.

Unintended consequences of war: My Lai in Vietnam, Abu Gharib in Iraq, to name just two during my lifetime. I highly recommend Graphic Novels About Consequences and Horrors of War by Meryl Jaffe.

On this Memorial Day, I also suggest Demobilized in the USA: Why There Is No Massive Antiwar Movement; I.F. Stone, the urge to serve, and remembrance of wars past:

Among the eeriest things about reading Stone’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia coverage, 14 years into the next century, is how resonantly familiar so much of what he wrote still seems, how twenty-first-century it all is. It turns out that the national security state hasn’t just been repeating things they’ve done unsuccessfully for the last 13 years, but for the last 60. [Compare, for instance, Laos and Iraq.]

But if much in the American way of war remains dismally familiar some five decades later, one thing of major significance has changed, something you can see regularly in I.F. Stone’s Weekly but not in our present world. Thirteen years after our set of disastrous wars started, where is the massive antiwar movement, including an army in near revolt and a Congress with significant critics in significant positions?

If, so many years into the disastrous war on terror, the Afghan War that never ends, and most recently Iraq War 3.0 and Syria War 1.0, there is no significant antiwar movement in this country, you can thank the only fit of brilliance the national security state has displayed. It successfully drummed us out of service. The sole task it left to Americans, 40 years after the Vietnam War ended, was the ludicrous one of repeatedly thanking the troops for their service, something that would have been inconceivable in the 1950s or 1960s because you would, in essence, have been thanking yourself.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “Memorial Day 2015: war is failure”

  1. Roger, my dad was a WWII Navy Engineering Corps member. He always thought war was pointless, even WWII,because so many profiteers sold to Hitler first, including Prescott Bush and the Rockefeller family. So my commitment to pacifism knows no bounds.

    Having said that, I also honor anyone who chooses to put on the uniform. Rich men wage the wars, right? People on the lower end of the financial pyramid do all the fighting. Thanks. Amy

  2. What a great way to celebrate Memorial Day! And thank you for your very kind endorsement of my post “Graphic Novels About Consequences and Horrors of War.” I think part of the problem is that different cultures often have very different values and priorities. Not everyone values “life” or “freedom” and so often communication and language is so fragile interactions simply break down… If only…

    Thanks for the plug, and thank you to our soldiers and veterans who help make this a safer place for us all.

  3. War is a failure of policy. Constant war is a symptom of declining empire. At some point the kids will no longer want to fight and die for no reason, and that’s when the empire collapses. And we all get to watch.

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