Wednesday
Apr092003

« War »

For the first time in my own recollection, war and all that has led to it has really bent my mind. For exactly the time since Dubya made his speech to the UN in Sept. '02, I have been utterly glued to the radio. (Public Radio only. That's all I listen to but for my CD collection.) It's like a gruesome car accident. You know you shouldn't look, but that's exactly all you can do.

I come from a family that, while not celebrating war, were certain to be enthusiastic about American might in its various forms. My grandfather was a WW2 vet who was on the Yorktown when it was sunk in Midway. Career serviceman. Really believed in it. My dad was in Vietnam, but was a carrier-bound sailor, so never saw the nasty business. The closest I ever came to the service was the stories I got from them. And then the 1991 Gulf war started and stopped about a year before I turned 18, so I never really got to be a part of that. By then, my early adolescent dreams of being an F-14 pilot were dashed by bad grades and corrective lenses. I have to say, at the time, I thought the Gulf war was a good thing. But that was shallow of me. I mistook our crushing military might for a good force in the world. I was caught up in the bravado and media induced feel-good messages. Not that that war was all bad; it served its purpose, I guess. But it seemed like a missed opportunity then, and for some years, I was eager to see the work done right, hoping that Saddam would really get his ass kicked out of power. I still think that is a needed thing. But I now am so much more aware that this sort of thing doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I am not pro war. But I am not pro protest either. I really don't know which way to go because it all seems so grossly wrong. I have never really been into politics much, but for the last year and a half, I have been glued to my radio, and have heard more sides of the story than I ever thought could have existed. One turning point was when a foreign friend of mine from Europe wrote a really harsh critique of some stuff I wrote in a newsgroup right after 9/11. It was decidedly pro American, and my friend announced that it echoed all the really callous and arrogant things that rednecks are known to say, and he wrote to ask me if that's what I really felt or was I just parroting the other guy with whom I was chatting in the group. You know, after 9/11, we Americans started our own holy war. And it was painfully obvious to just about everyone else in the world. Yes, we were victims. But I'm afraid we were just playing passive aggressive after 9/11. There was talk about losing our innocence. Nonsense! There was none to lose. I have to say that more and more, I hear about American arm twisting and collusion and all the other means of manipulating the world. It's a surprise that we didn't get our 9/11 earlier. For those who didn't notice, that was a wake up call. Some people have a profound problem with us. Or our way of life. Or our government. Or something. But instead of fixing those things, we go bomb anyone we don't like and then put our people in. Folks, I hate to report, but my naive ass is good for five dollars that that is a worse idea than continuing the status quo! And, when I heard about the dealmaking that Paul Wolfowitz and company were doing over ten years ago, that just made my heart sink. America, as more than the protector and voice of reason. America, the reshaper of the modern world, in her own image. Folks, there are 300 million of us Americans in the world. What would make some Republican boys club think that the other 5.5 billion and more people would want to be cast as American? It's sick. Democracy? I'm all for it. But, part of being democratic is letting people decide for themselves. And democracy isn't delivered by cluster bombs and cruise missiles. The problem is not the Islamic world. The problem is not even our government (don't confuse that for letting them off the hook, nosiree). The American problem is that we live too large. We live at the expense of others. And they don't like it. This relationship between Americans and the rest of the world is not unlike the relationship between kings of old and their subjects. The more I hear about "American" products made in foreign countries to save costs, the sicker I feel. We might not be calling attention to ourselves in a Hitlerian march to own the world, or control things, or influence things, but we are getting there nonetheless. The matter of dependence concerns me. The holes that such moves leave concerns me. The need to support that sort of thing concerns me. We hear about corporations leaving our shores to save labor costs. The way I see it, we not only lose the jobs here (which caves in whole towns and cities in some cases damage enough), but we also end up making a bad name for ourselves when so and so company acts without regard for local customs or regulations. It's a blessing and a curse having a system like that.

I have an idea. It's going to fail miserably. I know it. I can feel it in my bones. It's grossly un-American. The idea is to consume less. The idea is to vote with your dollars and SENSE. Live simply so that others may simply live. To me, the problem lies in the grand American tradition of disposable culture. It's a massively ingrained problem we have. In a few short centuries, we have gone from being the country with such massive amounts of resources and space, to deeming all that to be not good enough. Not good enough. And it's time to take a little more. A little more from another country that our increasingly less literate citizens can't even say the name of, or can't find it on a map. I say FUCK foreign investment. I say, we surely have enough to spend our time and money investing in here at home. So you can buy stuff for cheap at WalMart? Fine. A few more people here at home are working for piss or nothing at all to bring it to you. And the political machine that it takes to keep those disposable widgets coming is creating a rebellion in the world. The world doesn't want to be American. The world doesn't want to shine our shoes and carry our loads. Arab nations are being the boldest and most confrontational in bringing us that message. We may be wise to see that. But it's not just your politicians that need to change. The American Way is one of selfishness and greed. And one of disposability. We throw away our food, cars, clothing, houses and cities. Oh, Podunk is drying up for biz? Take off to Saigon, or wherever else there seems to be a new frontier. That's the last thing we should be doing. Or the last thing that should be allowed to happen. Let that trend keep on going, and we won't have anything to fight for. And on top of that, some areas of the world will be happy to remind our businesses that they didn't invite us.

Jeeze, it's so huge. I can't even begin to wrap my brain around all the issues that are so interlocking as to be strangling. It's the World Wide Web We weave. Sorry, I think I lost focus in there somewhere. But I'm not really so sure anything is in focus right now.

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