Not letting the war-makers off the hook

All wars are political failures worthy of scorn.

As people MIGHT remember, Memorial Day formerly Decoration Day, is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It was on May 30 from 1868 to 1970, after which it became a “Monday holiday” to extend the weekend.

The tug-of-war between solemn remembrance and summertime fun is almost as old as the holiday itself, so I shan’t rail against its designation as the “unofficial start of the summer vacation season.”

Presumably, the point of the American civilian government is to lessen the number of its citizens killed in war. I was taken by a May 2016 article in Forbes by Todd Essig:

“[Honor] the memory of those who died in war not just on Memorial Day but all year long by actively engaging the political process. Read what candidates say. Hold them accountable for who they are, what they do and what they say. Get news from multiple sources. We have to be collectively smart to make sure the next Commander in Chief has the requisite temperament and experience to make decisions that will inevitably result in the deaths of many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.”

Not incidentally, he stated that the now current White House occupant does not have those important qualities. The United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal codifies that for me.

Essig noted: “Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day does not let the war-makers off the hook. It does not mean forgetting that war is always filled with horror and trauma, mangled bodies and lost lives. All wars are political failures worthy of scorn, as are politicians who fail at peace. And unnecessary wars fought on the basis of ideological faith and incomplete, even fabricated, intelligence deserve our deepest scorn, scorn that honors those who have died.”

A 2015 Vox piece suggested a holiday to honor those who try to stop wars. I had not thought of that, but there is some wisdom in that.

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.

One thought on “Not letting the war-makers off the hook”

  1. “Presumably, the point of the American civilian government is to lessen the number of its citizens killed in war.” perhaps but not necessarily. The ancient city-state of Athens, which was a democracy for male citizens who were not slaves, (pretty advanced for that time) got into a vicious cycle of constant war that was maintained because it enriched certain elites and kept a large number of people employed. Thus the democracy became dependent upon constant war. Sound familiar?

    Eventually the “Athenian Empire” ran up against their rival Sparta, which collected as allies pretty much everybody who was opposed to Athens or afraid of getting conquered. And Sparta with their allies defeated Athens and destroyed its empire.

    Athens had their share of antiwar protesters, but they had little effect. A famous example is Aristophenes’ play Peace:

    http://www.albanyweblog.com/2007/07_jul/07-29-07.html

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