Thursday, August 8, 2013
Fight! Fight! Fight!
In November 1982 I lost an argument with my parents. And I’m still pissed! I had just turned 18 and Dad told me that I had to register with the Selective Service so that if there was a military draft they’d know where to find me. Mom reminded me this was one of the costs of freedom, and a pretty minor inconvenience at that. This seemed wrong on so many levels. First the government was telling me that I had to do something. Then there was the whole drafted for military service thing after having grown up largely in an era of peace - the idea of war was quite alien. And, of course, the biggie was the government knowing where to find me was a particular irritant (and quite the foreshadowing moment). Under duress, I registered. (Registration is still required for all Americans between 18-25.) Now after nearly thirty years of being on the anti-war path, I find myself agitating for a fight.
I’m a pacifist by nature. It’s not just because I’m a lousy boxer. It’s economic, intellectual and spiritual - not necessarily in that order. Longtime readers are familiar with dozens of blogs I've written about the absurdities of war. The campaign against drugs isn’t really a war, for instance. Same with the War against Obesity. And certainly the reality television co-opting of the term for shows like Storage Wars and Parking Wars just further diminishes the power of the word. The military action in Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and now Africa are all ill-considered.
June 5, 1944 was the fifth and last time the U.S. Congress declared war. 13 other times Congress has authorized military engagements. 125 other times Presidents have used the military without Congressional authorization.
The Cold War lasted from 1947 to 1991. It wasn’t officially declared, but according to Wikipedia was “a sustained state of political and military tension between powers in the Western Bloc, dominated by the United States with NATO among its allies, and powers in the Eastern Bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union along with the Warsaw Pact.”
The Cold War was good for many parts of the U.S. The economy was largely stable, thanks to constant investment in the military industrial complex. In fact the greatest expansion and growth in the middle class occurred during this period. There was a definable “bad guy” that could even be personified. It helped define a consistent foreign policy across administrations. Hollywood thrived with a long list of fantastic covert movies.
Since the wall fell America's focus was lost, and the worst attack since Pearl Harbor happened on 9/11/2001. The terrorist as ‘enemy’ has never been as black-and-white as having a Khrushchev or Brezhnev who personified evil. The CIA could focus on the bad guys more easily because of the geographic certainty of the opponent while the nebulous terrorist can look and act as American-as-pie as the Tsarnaev brothers. And, really, what movie about terrorists over the past decade is going to become a classic?
No, it’s much better when we have a definable enemy whom we can personify. Vladimir Putin is the perfect foil – right out of Central Casting. Quite dour looking. He’s remaking Russia into the Soviet Union V2.0. He’s given safe haven to Edward Snowden, a huge irritant to the Obama administration. He’s declared war on gay people – throwing civil rights and basic humanity out the window.
Let’s go to war. Let’s not just pour Stoli into the gutter and pass proclamations and pat ourselves on the back. Let’s not talk about boycotts that will not have the impact its advocates hope for. I’m ready for the sequel: Cold War Redux. (Much better than Cold War II.) Economic sanctions must be applied so that there is a financial consequence of doing business there. Travel to that beautiful, incredible and historic country must be limited. A country that criminalizes people for being born gay (for even talking about being gay) no longer is entitled to the privileges of being part of the civilized world. There must be consequences.
I’m ready for this war. Sign me up. Oh, wait, I already did that. Since I've moved since I registered, I trust the NSA can find me when they need to. Who’s with me?