Are We A War Machine?
The United States has essentially been at war since 2001. This has been a period of sending American soldiers to seemingly unending rotations into combat zones causing loss of life, loss of limbs, disfigurement, and psychological damage. Whether you agree or not with our military goals, I wonder if many Americans are thinking enough is enough? It seems as if we are in a perpetual state of war.
There used to be a time when I thought of war as events that happened as a last resort that were divided by periods of relative peace. My view growing up during the tail end of Vietnam and post Vietnam periods was that Americans were war averse. Clear purpose, defined objectives and quickly returning to a peaceful state seemed to be the template established as a result of Vietnam.
Contrast this to the message received by today’s middle and high schoolers. For all their cognitive lives they have seen the United States at war. Military conflict and all its consequences is the new normal for them. It is almost the background to their lives, yet for those not from military families this is very much a media event that seemingly has little impact on them. It is a burden carried by others. Sacrifice is for someone else. Has this created a comfort level with war for both the young and old? What does this comfort level, if it exists, mean for our future? Certainly an over decade long fight makes us appear to be warmongers to many in the world.
This would seem to impact the ability of the United States to occupy the high moral ground and to lead. You would think this, coupled with the human cost borne by our soldiers, would prompt a national debate about the direction of our country. So far that debate is barely audible.