United States of Amnesia

❝ “The United States of Amnesia.” That’s what Gore Vidal once called us. We remember what we find it convenient to remember and forget everything else. That forgetfulness especially applies to the history of others. How could their past, way back when, have any meaning for us today? Well, it just might. Take the European conflagration of 1914 to 1918, for example…

❝…in Europe, a hundred years ago, war had become politically purposeless. Yet the leaders of the world’s principal powers — including, by 1917, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson — could conceive of no alternative but to try harder, even as the seat of Western civilization became a charnel house…

❝…similarities between the Great War as it unspooled and our own not-in-the-least-great war(s) deserve consideration. Today, as then, strategy — that is, the principled use of power to achieve the larger interests of the state — has ceased to exist. Indeed, war has become an excuse for ignoring the absence of strategy…

❝ Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare, “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate.

Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity. No doubt Saudi and Israeli leaders will cheer, Europeans who remember their Great War will scratch their heads in wonder, and the Chinese will laugh themselves silly. Meanwhile, issues of genuinely strategic importance — climate change offers one obvious example — will continue to be treated like an afterthought.

As for the gravy train, it will roll on.

RTFA. The military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned of – lives better than a top-shelf Wall Street hedge fund manager. Politicians roll over easy-peasy – rotund from pockets stuffed with their share of the proceeds.

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