If you feel you need to talk about it, there’s an exhaustive discussion going on at Crooked Timber.
He was stuck with the duty and he would fight. And he had no doubt he would die and that would be a good thing.
He looked around the battlefield that had been his home, and carefully raised himself out of the recliner. It wouldn’t do to fall and break a hip now. Company was coming, and he had to be ready to greet them. He hoped it would be today.
— From Absolved, a novel by Mike Vanderboegh
Combat veterans bear deep scars of memory. At the same time, they often feel nostalgia for their time of service. This is fitting. Nostalgia always mixes love with pain.
What should we call a similar yearning for a war to come? For a future civil war between Americans?
Some of my neighbors think such a war is inevitable. They may attend tea party rallies, or they may not; if they do, they indignantly deny that they were lured there by media celebrities like Glenn Beck.
They’ll tell you they’ve known for a long time that America has lost its way, and the halls of power are controlled by a conspiracy against freedom. Those who don’t surrender their firearms, control of their property, and their rights to the mega-state will be hunted down, one by one. Neighbor will betray neighbor in a dark, cruel, deceitful America ruled by brutal thugs. We’re already more than halfway there.
This belief isn’t really susceptible to argument. Continue reading
Why does the United States have soldiers, marines, airmen, and spies in Afghanistan?
Why have they been there for eight years?
Neither of these questions has a satisfactory answer. Americans often bypass them by insisting that, however we got there, we have no choice but to remain, at least for now.
Why do we have no choice? Continue reading
- NASCAR and Congress: I’ve seen yet another approving mention of the idea of dressing politicians in NASCAR-style uniforms bearing the logos of their corporate sponsors. So when is someone going to Photoshop these outfits for us, using data from, say, opensecrets.org? I’d do it myself if I had the time and skills.
- Health care: Liberals want the government to take care of everyone, while conservatives want the government out and the free market in. Everyone hates what we have, and neither side can have everything they want. Can we reach a consensus that works? The ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee thinks maybe so. Rep. Paul Ryan talks with health reporter Ezra Klein, then rushes off to an unspecified appointment.
- Casino economy: And you thought that was just a metaphor. After the president called a Las Vegas vacation an example of unwise spending, the Senate majority leader and other Nevada pols lost no time grousing and whining about how cruelly Obama had harmed the tender sensibilities of the gambling and convention businesses. The Nevadans’ statements make it clear who calls the shots in their state.
- Remote-control havoc: While we’re in Nevada, leave it to BBC Radio to look into the way certain commuters in the Battle-Born State earn their paychecks by operating drone aircraft to spy on people in Afghanistan, or to kill them. It’s a living. Drone strikes are war crimes that enrage our allies and inspire our enemies, yet we can’t seem to wean ourselves off them. See the discussion at Crooked Timber.
One of Birmingham’s best writers, Kyle Whitmire, is leaving the Birmingham Weekly where for several years he’s provided the most astute and most readable commentary on city and county affairs. (Hat tip to Wade Kwon.)
Rosalind Fournier’s profile of Whitmire at b-metro reveals how Kyle’s column got its name, which is “War on Dumb.” Seems that one day he spotted a bumper sticker:
“It said, ‘Let’s win the War on Hunger.’ I thought to myself, how exactly do you win a war on hunger? Do you bomb hunger’s cities? Do you burn its villages to the ground, and kill its women and children? Or, you could just feed people, because that’s what we’re really talking about.
“Not only that,” he continues, with what appears to be his natural state of contained agitation, “but don’t we lose every so-called ‘war’ we declare … on poverty, drugs, crime, terrorism?”
So he renamed the column [“War on Dumb”] with more than a trace of irony. “The name had two prongs,” he explains. “I got to make fun of the infusion of violence into our language, and I admitted to anyone paying attention … that if I declared a war on dumb, I was going to lose.”
Best of luck to Kyle in his next endeavor, and I’m glad that he’s planning to stay in Birmingham.
P.S. If I may be allowed to kvetch, the editorial folk at b-metro need to get their act together. The Whitmire profile was well put together, but the gremlins in the copy were distracting. For starters, take that bold subhed about Whitmire being “the only guy in town will to tell the truth about local politics.” Will to wha-?
Military reporter Joseph E. Ricks has just blogged about a July 2008 battle at Wanat in eastern Afghanistan: a fight, he writes, “that the Army’s chain of command doesn’t seem to want to talk about, but which some of those with knowledge of the incident have encouraged me to look into.”
Ricks approaches the episode from a sympathetic perspective: He assumes that the war in Afghanistan is correctly motivated and should succeed, provided only that it is properly executed. Never mind that our effort to punish the Taliban seems to have had the opposite effect, while terrorizing the very people we’re supposed to be helping.
We might have taken to heart the lessons of the 1916 Army campaign against Pancho Villa, which strengthened Villa’s guerrilla movement and weakened the legitimate Mexican government. (We forget that the first “terrorist strike on American soil” was in 1916 at Columbus, New Mexico.) The only way to win that one was to withdraw and claim victory. I’m sure the same will turn out to be true in Afghanistan.
Army leadership, however, appears to be mesmerized with its own dogma. The upper echelons are willing to jaw endlessly about “facts on the ground,” but unwilling to accept unwelcome truths.