05 February 2012

Reconciling the preference for war by a 'peace-loving' nation

Military veteran and anti-war activist Charles Powell at a
rally Saturday opposed to any U.S. military action against Iran.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Demonstrators in an estimated 80 U.S. cities staged rallies Saturday against the looming possibility of war against Iran, with about 50 gathered here in front of the University of New Mexico bookstore along busy Central Avenue.

War is increasingly the foreign policy of choice for political candidates and hate-mongers masquerading as news analysts, and the casualness with which war is discussed as a policy alternative is especially appalling when it takes place among men seeking to become the U.S. commander-in-chief.  Let us assume that the candidates are smart enough to know what war means.

To support or advocate war is to accept that the majority of the people killed and maimed will be civilians. The dreams and desires of many non-combatants, mothers, fathers, children, and siblings, will be reduced to puddles of blood, regardless of how smart or sophisticated the weapons manufacturers claim their products to be.

To support or advocate war is to accept that most of the loved ones of the dead and damaged will hate the perpetrators for the rest of their lifetimes, that many will seek and support acts of vengeance, and that some will pass their thirst for revenge on to their sons and daughters. It is to acknowledge and accept that, even in victory, many of the warriors that followed your directives will be as physically and emotionally mangled as the victims, and that their trauma will also ripple through generations.

But that scenario assumes the candidates understand war beyond its depiction in film and video games, that they aren’t “chickenhawks,” who avoided military services themselves while having no reluctance to send other person’s sons and daughters to the front lines. And if they don’t understand the horrors of war, any war in any place, then they are not fit to run for national office.

The spectacle that passes for debates among the GOP presidential candidates is at times less about politics than about dueling masculinities, with each candidate trying to convince likely voters that he is a bigger, tougher bad-ass than his competition. This is just what American public needs in a president: someone so psychologically stunted that he behaves like a pre-teen boy bragging to his schoolyard buddies. I am waiting for the moment one unzips the fly of his pants to brag about the length of his dick.

Meanwhile, the incumbent president oozes gooey platitudes about peace and freedom while increasingly waging war with drones—killing “sanitized” by virtue of the triggerman’s distance from the target. But the far sadder reality is that the sanctimonious assassin, the schoolyard bullies in training, and the media cheerleaders of death on the sidelines could not exist without the passive acceptance of the American public, liberal and conservative alike, that war, the systematic pursuit of death and destruction, is somehow OK.

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