Saturday, July 29, 2006

When is it a War?

The Conservatives* are much too inclined to whine, as they tear up the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions, "But we're at war." To them "war" has long been a magic word supercedes all other considerations, justifies all manner of crime against the citizenry with reference to some grand, transcendent and/or desperate cause. The War On Drugs certainly helped expand police powers to the point where the Founding Fathers would hardly recognize this form of government as democracy. (The quaint fools, of course, couldn't have known how much human nature would change in two centuries.) And now the Everywhere-Forever War on Terror will go that metaphorical "war" many, many times "better."

But are we, in any meaningful sense at war. Certainly the troops in Iraq are at war, and the war may have an absolute reality to their loved ones. And the people of Iraq (Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, etc.) certainly find themselves at war, although in some cases it's probably just more Hell than war -- war would be a more organized and meaningful experience than what they've got.

But for most Americans saying "We're at war," is an exercise in bad faith, at best. A soldier in the field should ask, "What's this we, kemosabe?" Most Americans have sacrificed, and more importantly would sacrifice little or nothing to this cause. They don't volunteer to fight, or expect their children to; they don't pay higher taxes (The very idea!); they don't ration, or reduce their energy consumption, or even reduce their expectations for future energy consumption. Can people who consciously sacrifice nothing be considered "at war"?

What we have here really is more a case of contract killing (etc.) than war. Moreover we're putting the fee on the kids' abstract Mastercard.

*this is, in most cases, to say: chickenhawks; punishment freaks.


Post a Comment

<< Home