Prague Twin

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Total Disconnect



One thing that has really been bugging me about the Iraq war is the total disconnect between the society that started the conflict and the effect that war is having on that society. In past wars, society was asked to make certain concessions. Nationwide recruitment campaigns were initiated, food and materials were rationed, people planted "victory gardens", and there was a general understanding that sacrifices were being made by ordinary people to support the folks that were making the big sacrifices (i.e. limbs and lives).

But with this war, nothing is being asked of the American people aside from those in the military and their families. Taxes have been lowered for most, and the only thing we are being asked in return is to keep shopping. The president talks about "sacrifice" but I'm not sure what he means. Does he mean that we should all go into debt to finance the most lavish Thanksgiving dinner Other than putting a yellow ribbon on your SUV, I can't think of one thing that is being asked of us, as average citizens, to do our part for the effort.

There is no draft, no conscription, no rationing, no noticable effect for any of us aside from a mounting debt that has no short term effect on us whatsoever. Even avid supporters of the war fail to enlist.

It is as if the war is happening only on television, and only really in our imagination. Surely if we were really at war, we would be asked to do something, to at least participate in some symbolic fashion. But in fact we are completely seperated, and completely disconnected from the war and it's effects.

And now, something funny to illustrate what I mean...

27 Comments:

  • The only other thing being asked of us, besides the yellow ribbons, is to support the admin unquestioningly. And apparently there's a large segment of society who is only to happy to do that as long as nothing is being directly asked of them - like paying higher taxes to actually support the troops.

    By Anonymous abi, at 6:31 PM  

  • That point did occur to me, but it seems that battle cry is dying down. Thanks for pointing it out though.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:09 PM  

  • Interesting thoughts PT

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 8:53 PM  

  • I complained about this very thing this morning in my "Bush Twins suck and snort their way through North and South America while Prince Harry readies to deploy to Iraq" post. The usual wingnuttia complain when I call for war supporters like Lieberman and Cheney to ante up their kids and/or grandkids for this war they claim we MUST win, but I just don't get the disconnect either. Except for McCain's kid and Duncan "Two Types Of Fruit" Hunter's kid, I can't think of one other war supporter who has family over in Iraq, back from Iraq and/or getting ready to go.

    And that's bullshit - if it's so important, then sign yourselves up, chickenhawks, or send some family members. Otherwise, you're giving us all the impression that it's only important enough for OTHER PEOPLE to fight your war for you.

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 9:08 PM  

  • Thanks for Asking The Question.

    Karl from Operation Yellow Elephant

    By Blogger Karl, at 9:42 PM  

  • Quite frankly, I have spent many a time pondering why our friends in America seem to be more ready and willing to go to war? I came to a conclusion that it has to do something with the blessed situation of not having to do it at the home turf. The American wars tend to take place in countries that some Americans can't even find on the map. This is not the case anywhere else that I know.

    The war in it's ugly totality; bombed down cities, hungry and cold inhabitants without food and shelter, rampant diseases without hospitals, and finally indiscriminate death that hits the civilians even harder than actual fighters, is just a distant rumour to an average American. Don't understan me wrong, I am happy that you do not have to experience such a misery.

    By Anonymous pekka, at 9:18 AM  

  • RBE,

    I read those. Nice comment from your detractor: wars are fought by OTHER PEOPLE. Wow, if he didn't prove my point for me!

    Karl,

    Thanks for what you do. I enjoy it.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:08 AM  

  • I love that video.

    It might sound a little dickheadish, but there are a lot of stupid people in the US. Especially in the "heartland" where I live. off topic but I just read a letter in my local newspaper claiming that the world is six thousand years old. amazing. we have a lot of smart people, but a lot of dumb that follow the president whatever he says too

    By Blogger GraemeAnfinson, at 10:08 AM  

  • Pekka,

    That thought has occured to me. It seems that America has been sold on the promise that if we fight them over there we won't have to face them at home.

    A powerful message indeed.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:09 AM  

  • Graeme,

    I would argue that it is more complicated than smart or stupid. For a country that prides itself on being free, it is amazing to me what a deference to authority is witnessed there.

    My favorite quote is something a friend of mine said to my Czech wife when she had become exasperated at all the rules and regulations:

    "It is a free country, as long as you do exactly as you are told."

    The six thousand year thing is just deference to authority, in this case the church. I would call it ignorance more than stupidity. It is not inherent, it is a choice.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:23 AM  

  • So you lay no burden whatsoever on Sadam for this war?

    As to asking for sacrifice; how about just having the media not publish stories that hurt the effort and have little or no value to the public ala the NYT and its SWIFT banking story?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:37 PM  

  • abi

    So do you support full funding for the troops?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 4:47 PM  

  • To All and Sundry,

    One issue w/ this particular war not necessarily that it is being fought in Iraq. The issue is that we in America are completely insulated from it unless we know someone who is directly involved.

    I am old enough to remember Vietnam and how each night the media brought that war to our living rooms via TV.

    W/ Iraq, we see nothing. Casualties are reported but we see no coffins returning (not that I want to see them) no taped footage from Anbar Province; no footage of patrols in Baghdad; no nothing. The media has largely been locked out of this war.

    We hear a few tributes to the fallen on NPR. We read a few articles in the paper. That's it.

    When we see the coffins coming home on a daily basis; when we are inttroduced to the maimed service men and women at Walter Reed; when we are shown footage of the carnage in Iraq and its consequences, perhaps then we will make the connection.

    By Anonymous Tony Sokolow, at 7:38 PM  

  • Very good points about the disconnect. I hate to say it, but I think it's time to reinstate some sort of universal service requirement, at least during wartime. Not a military draft, necessarily, but some sort of required service that wouldn't have to involve military combat.

    That's the only way I can think of that would get these millions of armchair warriors involved in the war effort and making sacrifices. Some of these passive supporters might change their minds if they (or their children) have to forego their plans in order to join the army or do compulsory volunteer work.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 12:08 AM  

  • You write...the total disconnect between the society that started the conflict and the effect that war is having on that society but you're talking about America.

    Saddam Hussein started the war by invading Kuwait. We (and a lot of other countries in smaller contingents) kicked the Iraq army out of Kuwait and then declined to conquer Iraq (which we did to Germany just for France) based on cease fire agreements which Saddam nearly wholly blew off.

    You are of course entitled to your own opion but not to your own facts.

    And Tony, usually correct, is wholly wrong about journalists being "locked out" of Iraq. He neglects to read Michael Yon, but that doesn't mean Yon doesn't exist. It's a littler war than VietNam and gets less coverage, therefore.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 12:50 AM  

  • Bush's conception of "sacrifice" seems to be a tolerance of his incompetence and watching people cry on CNN.

    By Blogger copy editor, at 1:32 AM  

  • Arch,

    I am talking specifically about the American citizen's disconnect from this war. The Iraqis are sufficiently connected.

    It takes two to tango, so certainly some of the blame for this war can be placed on Saddam, but we could have avoided this had we chosen to.

    The media is not what I am addressing here. Why don't you write something about it?

    Since you bring it up, I think what you are suggesting is what abi said:

    The only other thing being asked of us, besides the yellow ribbons, is to support the admin unquestioningly.

    No, I don't think the media should abdicate their responsibility to inform the public. That is not the kind of sacrifice I am talking about.

    Roger,

    Iraq's invation of Kuwait occured 12 years before we invaded. Precursors and justifications aside, this conflict as we know it was initiated by the United States. That is a fact.

    I agree with Tony, that indeed very little of the real pain of this war is in our face. I'm too young to make a comparison to Vietnam, but the suppression of the press (i.e. coffins) is something that keeps us disconnected (and fat and happy). Yon gets to report because they like how he reports. The others are indeed locked out, and there are regulations as to what they can show. That is not freedom of the press if you ask me.

    But who cares about freedom of the press right Arch? We should sacrifice our constitutional rights as a sacrifice, as opposed to any monetary or life sacrifices that might be asked.

    Tony,

    I read the individual releases of the deaths of American soldiers since the footage is not available. I feel like it helps me keep in touch. I look at the pictures, and read about the men. I'd read about the Iraqi's too, but rarely are there such details.

    Most of US do not do this of course.


    C.E. ,

    Yeah that and the bill of rights. That is what we are asking to sacrifice.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 3:11 AM  

  • I agree it is more complicated than that PT, but I was just frustrated after having a conversation with someone whose political opinion boiled down to "well, we ought to support our President."

    By Blogger GraemeAnfinson, at 6:48 AM  

  • Tom,

    I tend to agree with you. I almost think there should be an automatic draft once a certain number of troops are used for a certain time. This way the general public would have to think quite seriously about supporting far-flung military adventures.

    Or, some kind of universal service as you suggest. Something so 19 year old's can not sit back and beat the war drum without knowing that they could end up behind a rifle as a result.

    Something to re-connect the people with the reality of war.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:35 AM  

  • Graeme,

    I know you know, and I feel your frustration. This was what Arch used to tell me when I questioned the war in the first place. "Just get behind the president."

    Um, no, see we live in a Democracy and that gives me the right to question authority, even in times of war of choice. Not only is it my right, but it is my duty.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:38 AM  

  • PT

    To draw a comparison between the combat and scope of WWII and the war in Iraq is silly.

    Do you really think that the combat aspect of the war in Iraq is in any way comparable to WWII?

    Victory gardens, really.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:31 PM  

  • Arch,

    It was an example. The point, which obviously you completely missed on purpose as usual, is that Anmericans feel no pain from this war. They are "totally disconnected" from this war,(which the title of the post suggests) quite unlike they were in WWII where there was a real connection between what was going on over there and what was going on at home.

    That doesn't mean that the military scope of this war is on par with that of WWII. Just that it is a major conflict which is stretching our forces but we as Americans do not have to lift a finger to help the effort. End of story.

    I know you get it, but choose to deflect, again, with your usual use of sophistry and red herring arguments.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:27 PM  

  • Roger,

    I said: "largely locked out of this war," not "totally locked out pof this war>"

    Certainly, there is more information available to the average person now than there was during the war in Vietnam b/c then the internet did not exist.

    I think to a certain degree you make my point. I consider myself a reasonably well informed person as are you. I think you think I am reasonably well informed.

    Yet, until I read your comment, I had never heard of Michael Yon, who I will read.

    I stand by comment, although perhaps I should modify it to the television news media has been largely locked out of the war in Iraq.

    I defy you to turn on network news and see the dailies on the war.

    I think this is why many Americans do not feel directly connected to this war until some neighbor or neighbor's kid comes home in an altered state.

    Yes, the war in Iraq is a smalller conflict than that in Vietnam, but it is the biggest shooting war we have right now.

    By Anonymous Tony Sokolow, at 6:06 PM  

  • Mike, it is a fact that the war started in 1991, It is a fact that the Gulf War ended not in a peace or even an armistice but merely a cease fire--that means it didn't end. (The Korean War ended the sam way) After the late Saddam blew off nearly all his promises, the war commenced again, with nearly the same combatants (fewer, for sure). How can you say that we started it? I'm serious.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 12:39 AM  

  • PT

    At the current casualty rate, the Iraq war would have to go on until the year 2407 to have an equal loss of U.S. military personnel, so again, your expectation that there should be some similar “attachment” is silly.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 4:29 AM  

  • Roger,

    I'm glad you brought up Korea. We have chosen not to invade N. Korea. If we did that would be our choice.

    That is what I mean. There were other options. Not great ones, but the invation was one of choice.

    Arch,

    You are not that stupid, so quit pretending to be. It is annoying.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 8:13 AM  

  • PT

    Are you questioning my arithmetic or are you questioning my sentiment?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 2:23 PM  

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