Veterans Day 2006

I have been thinking a lot about the war in Iraq lately. I know that I should be more empathetic to the suffering of the people in Iraq but frankly it's hard to care much any more when all one sees through the media is a series of barbaric acts and religious leaders grasping at secular power. If there ever were people of goodwill in that country they seem to have been murdered or have fled for their lives. And, although it is the United States that naively upset the apple cart of Iraqi society, it wasn't like Iraq under Saddam was a peaceful bucolic place where citizens had any rights at all, rather the opposite. But the whole Iraq misadventure recalls a chapter of Huckleberry Finn... 'Overreaching Don't Pay'.

What I do think about, however, is how the people in the services are making terrible sacrifices every day and how utterly normal life here at home is. I spent August in my new place without TV or Internet so NPR was always on and I remember that they had an interview with an American general who had come back from the war and had just retired, and this officer was commenting on exactly the same thing. Slap a 'yellow ribbon' magnet on the back of the SUV and life goes on unchanged.

I don't really have much respect for the way George W. Bush has conducted his presidency (although lost in all the criticism is the fact that he didn't ask to be president on Sept. 11, 2001) but I have nothing but contempt for his utter inability and unwillingness to ask for any kind of sacrifice from people at home while fighting this war. He did state something about the US being "addicted to oil" briefly but that was just a passing comment rather than an attempt to change policies.

Another thing that has crossed my mind is how unnaturally good the economy is at this juncture while all this is going on, which makes me suspect that, at least in the short term, war is good for business -- though I have little doubt that the bills will come due at some point, and that the consequences will not be pretty. So I thought I would post this quote from a famous speech of noted peacenik Dwight Eisenhower here because I think it makes some valid points today:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired
signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms in not spending
money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its
scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber
is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two
electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is
two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete
highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of
wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed
more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found
on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in
any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

In this day of billion dollar war toys the figures today would be even more out of wack. And, I am far from pacifist, I have no doubt that in some teeming city Pakistan or Egypt or perhaps in some ghetto in Western Europe there are group of dedicated young men plotting to kill me, not me specifically, but me in the generalized American sense -- and I don't think that their cause is in any way just.

1 comment:

eatsheep.com said...

Interesting pictures

Do you eat sheep?