War has much been on my mind lately, with a scene from “Gone with the Wind” flashing through my brain. It’s when Ashley Wilkes, the paragon of honor and decency, reflects on war: “Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars,” Wilkes says. “And when the wars were over, no one ever knew what they were about.”
Powerful words coming from a Southern cavalier who went off to do his duty in the “War Between the States.” Interestingly, the South often called it “the war of northern aggression,” whereas the North used “the war of southern rebellion.” War is a remarkably protean thing, and often completely unpredictable in its duration and effects. We often can’t even agree how to name it.
Here’s a repost from the end of 2013, nine distant years ago. Who could have predicted America’s Afghan War would finally be over, only to be replaced by a new Cold War and massive weapons shipments to Ukraine in a war with Russia that could also last for years, spreading miseries for reasons that are already disputed and which may yet prove unfathomable.
“War is like love; it always finds a way.” So wrote Bertolt Brecht, and when it comes to American politics and foreign policy in 2014, you can bet on Brecht being right. There is no major anti-war party in the USA today. Despite claims to fiscal austerity, Democrats and Republicans fall over themselves to fully fund the Pentagon and its ongoing wars across the globe. Our misguided involvement in Afghanistan lurches into its thirteenth year with promises that it won’t end until 2024 at the earliest. The only certainty for 2014 is more dead bodies, more casualties of war, more money wasted.
Barbara Tuchman, a historian who knew how to write for the educated public, was right in pointing out the persistence of folly in history. A heavily militarized U.S. foreign policy is an illustration of that. Our country continues to seek global dominance through militarized measures, perhaps…
View original post 266 more words