Memorializing War

by lizard

When it comes to sacrifice, those who enlist represent a very small percentage of the general public. We see them in airports, making connecting flights like the rest of us. But they aren’t like the rest of us. And no matter how much national pageantry gets directed their way during holidays like Memorial Day, the 365 day-a-year need of our veterans is a sensitive subject for a country that doesn’t collectively go to war like the WWII generation did.

This Nation piece (originating from conveys a similar sentiment, titled Why America Can’t Keep Fighting 1 Percent Wars:

America’s wars are remote. They’re remote from us geographically, remote from us emotionally (unless you’re serving in the military or have a close relative or friend who serves), and remote from our major media outlets, which have given us no compelling narrative about them, except that they’re being fought by “America’s heroes” against foreign terrorists and evil-doers. They’re even being fought, in significant part, by remote control—by robotic drones “piloted” by ground-based operators from a secret network of bases located hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the danger of the battlefield.

Their remoteness, which breeds detachment if not complacency at home, is no accident. Indeed, it’s a product of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice, not wars of necessity. It’s a product of the fact that we’ve chosen to create a “warrior” or “war fighter” caste in this country, which we send with few concerns and fewer qualms to prosecute Washington’s foreign wars of choice.

The results have been predictable, as in predictably bad. The troops suffer. Iraqi and Afghan innocents suffer even more. And yet we don’t suffer, at least not in ways that are easily noticeable, because of that very remoteness. We’ve chosen—or let others do the choosing—to remove ourselves from all the pain and horror of the wars being waged in our name. And that’s a choice we’ve made at our peril, since a state of permanent remote war has weakened our military, drained our treasury and eroded our rights and freedoms.

  1. BlackBart

    Until the 535 members of Congress go back and read the Constitution, where it is clearly stated only they can declare war, we will continue to kill our soldiers (and a great many innocents) at the whim of whoever occupies the Oval Office.
    If the American people decide we’re going to spend the 21st century in a permanent state of war to keep the oil flowing, so be it. Crank up the draft and add a $5 tax on every gallon of gasoline to pay for it and let’s get it on.
    My guess is the debate in Congress would go into another direction, like what can we do together to avoid such a grim future.

    • lizard19

      I basically agree, Bart. a draft and significant gas tax would dramatically alter the direction of the debate.

      too bad waging war by remote control has become the method of choice from a president that knows a decade of placing soldiers in harms way has caused public sentiment to sour on the war against terrorism.

  2. lizard19

    Almost half of new vets seek disability:

    America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.

    A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press.

    What’s more, these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea, just two.

    It’s unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors. Many factors are driving the dramatic increase in claims — the weak economy, more troops surviving wounds, and more awareness of problems such as concussions and PTSD. Almost one-third have been granted disability so far.

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