Friday, June 27, 2014

Why do we go to war ?

- a primer on the mechanisms that enable us to constantly enter armed conflict without thought or planning.

Having been to war, and having had the privilege of returning home in one piece, the question of why our society so eagerly participates in armed conflict haunts me every day. Trying to answer this question is a lot like trying to construct the mosaic of a huge jig-saw puzzle. As with a large jig-saw puzzle, you tend to dwell first on the picture of the finished product; most normally on the top face of the box the puzzle comes in. You look for features that might make it easier to find and place the correct pieces in the correct spots. Then, you open the box, and hope that all the pieces are there.

Most of the puzzles I have encountered have begun their construction by first finding the corner pieces. This is followed by trying to lay out the four sides of the puzzle. Then you generally look for remarkable sets of pieces close to the perimeter, and start building inward toward the center. In doing this, you find that there are segments of a puzzle that stand out more than others; it’s a visual thing. What you are doing with this puzzle is precisely what is done in properly planning and constructing a strategy when you are contemplating going to war.

Planning for war, going to war, and coping with the aftermath are the tedious regimens similar to constructing the middle sections of that jig-saw puzzle. You set forth the most obvious categories, fine tune them, and then link them in a way that will give you the best chance for success. This gives you the “how”, the “when”, the “where”, and the “what”, but I does not give you the “why”.

To even start to grasp the “why” of “why we go to war”, it helps to consider our Nation’s rather bellicose nature from our Revolutionary War to the present war in Afghanistan and the re-occurrence of the war in Iraq. Up through most of the Vietnam War, our government and our society was in reasonably coherent agreement on the need to engage. By 1975, our government and our society started taking totally divergent courses when the question of entering armed conflict came up as a National discussion.

So, what happened in the mid-70’s? It is my contention that, from 1969 to 1975, our government began to have an increasing fear of the American public. As a result of this fear, our government began an arduous journey into the land of secrecy and deceit. Over the course of the twenty years following the Vietnam war, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and, eventually, the 12 other National Security Agencies had the veil of immunity, anonymity, and secrecy draped over them by all three branches of government; the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. You can throw the Supreme Court into that mix, as well. At the same time, our Captains of Industry discovered new-found wealth and profit in a planned continuance of the Military/Industrial Complex. With the advent of giant leaps in technology and  the “M/I C” on steroids, our Nation’s war production was probably the most lucrative business to be involved with starting in the late 1970’s; Richard Bruce Cheney certainly thought so.

With both these factors in place and operating on all cylinders, it was relatively easy to commit our Military anywhere in the World. And, you guessed it, that’s exactly what happened. So, the question of “why” starts off with the fact that it was easy and hugely profitable. Coincidentally, there was a societal and philosophical sea change in our National identity.  The “me” generation became thoroughly ensconced in everyday life, and that seemed to lead very quickly to what was coined as “American Exceptionalism”. If we revisit the box with the jig-saw puzzle in it, it looks as if we develop our decisions to engage in precisely the exact way we choose to construct the puzzle. Consider the box itself as the Military/Industrial Complex. Consider the picture on the top of that box to hold all the secret nuances of rationalization and justification. Consider the choice to purchase the box with the puzzle in it as our own “American Exceptionalism”. This could just as easily be stated in reverse by hi-lighting the decision to purchase in the first place.

That’s a lot to chew on in one sitting. Make it a little more digestible by looking at the decision to purchase the box, the box itself, and the picture on top. If, for instance, you take away the need, or urge, to purchase the box, the question is mute, and you don’t engage. Of the three stated aspects prior to opening the box, changing the “Exceptionalism” and arrogance of the American psyche may prove to be the most achievable. You are not going to put a halt to the advancements in technology. You are, most likely, not going to stifle the obscene and profitable war production of this Country. Changing how we look at the rest of the World might be of immediate consideration, and reasonably doable. Dropping the words exceptional and arrogance form our National identity might just show the rest of the World that we will be willing to lead by example, not military force. Consider the respect our Country would regain if we chose to be a true leader, instead of a constant conqueror. Most of us, at one time or another, has voiced a preference for peace on this planet. Perhaps the United States could start the ball rolling in that direction, and do it very soon.

This little essay all began with an all-consuming passion to stop our government from making more Veterans. We obviously can’t take care of the ones we have currently, so tell where the logic is in making new ones. Also, this concept of “nation building” has my head spinning and my shorts in a knot. I ask you, “Who the Hell are we to tell people from any other sovereign Country how to run their government, their economy, and, ultimately, their society?” I don’t think anyone can provide a solid argument for that kind of mentality.
 Saturday, June 28, 2014

from the desk of: We The Peeps 1 
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