There really hasn’t been a good clean war that everyone could sink their teeth into since World War II. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but at least we can all agree that Hitler was the bad guy, and people were willing to ration their food and give up their panty hose for the cause. We were all on the same team, and the team spirit was palpable. Maybe modern wars just need better PR people. But today’s audience is much more cynical and selfish than the “Greatest Generation” ever was.
These days we much prefer that our wars not interrupt our primetime TV viewing schedules, and no one wants to actually have to sacrifice anything. Rationing? Are you kidding me? Not gonna happen.
Recently, whether or not to go to war has been on our minds. The consensus seems to be that we don’t want the expense. In these economically difficult times, this is a legitimate concern, but I personally don’t think it should be the only one.
More and more, Americans are questioning why we have been the world’s appointed enforcer, and the world is questioning why the US feels it has the right to stick its nose in everyone else’s business. I think these are both valid points as well.
There are those of us who think that war, in general, is counterproductive. I mean, all the death and destruction and horrendous public relations gets us where, exactly? And proves what? And, as is becoming increasingly obvious, achieves what?
Part of the problem, I think, is that we tend to fight for all the wrong reasons these days. We fight for oil. We fight to stop terrorism, as if it were some identifiable creature that could be corralled in one place and squashed like the cockroach that it is, never to be seen again. Sadly, terrorism is more like smoke. It simply blows away, appearing in other locations, and often our very attempts to combat it inspires more of it to form.
If we’re going to wage wars, the only acceptable reasons, in my opinion, are moral ones. For example, we should have waded right into Rwanda before the rivers flowed with blood. We should have prevented China from setting foot in Tibet. We should have never allowed a single human being to be mutilated in Sierra Leone, and no one should have ever disappeared in Chile. But we averted our eyes every time, and for all those things and many more, we should be ashamed. It’s truly unforgivable.
I certainly think that chemical warfare against civilians is a legitimate reason to be involved in a war. However, we have to stop getting involved in conflicts if clear-cut and achievable goals are not possible. This endless, “Gee, I don’t know, why are we here again?” stuff does no one any good, especially those we are attempting to help. And that’s the confusing fumbling that we’ve been doing since the Korean War. It must be frustrating for our soldiers who so often join the military for good, moral, and decent reasons to discover that they are caught up in bad, politically motivated and undisciplined clusterf***s.
We didn’t fight WWII for oil. We did have an identifiable foe. Not all our reasons for being involved were moral ones, but there was a definite and overwhelming moral element. We could feel proud of what we did, why we did it, and what we helped to stop.
Perhaps that should be the litmus test to determine when we should and should not get involved in international conflicts. Are our motivations something we can be proud of? Can we take pride in our goals and the way we go about achieving them? And will the world be a better place if we achieve those goals?
If we cannot answer yes to all three of those questions, then we have our answer. No.