In its recent editorial titled “Voters must remember the wars”, The Oregonian reminded its readers of the ongoing loss of life, the human suffering and the multi--trillion–dollar expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and called for Senators McClain, Obama and Clinton to discuss Iraq at every campaign stop.
In what previous American war did the people and politicians need reminding?
In previous wars, even the noncombatants pulled at the oars, saving every reusable scrap of metal, paper, cardboard and glass for the war effort. People planted victory gardens, and they bought war bonds to help pay for the cost of the war.
At home, Americans lived behind blackout curtains and rationed fuel. They saved bits of wire and string, and volunteered their service in countless ways.
But that was a different America.
In today’s America, less than 1% of the nation carries the entire load of the war, and much of the debt will be paid by future generations. People cannot be bothered to save anything, nor to reduce their consumption of fuel, not even on Memorial Day, an opportunity to at least symbolize shared sacrifice.
In today’s America, consumerism reigns, and we call it freedom.
In Oregon, we unashamedly underfund our schools, relying on the sale of lottery tickets instead of enacting revenue reform, and we use a lottery to offer health care to the poor.
The nation is stressed over the economy and the coming recession, and yet none describe it as a war economy.
The sad fact is that the nation mostly accepts the current rate of loss in Iraq and Afghanistan, so long as it’s the same people that make the sacrifices, over and over, to the nth deployment. The nation will not consider expanding the pool, even if it would lead to an end to the war.
We Oregonians are about to send another 3,200 soldiers off to the war, some to die, some to survive with ruined lives, many to suffer the manifold consequences of sacrifice, even to the mental health of their own children, and yet we need reminding that there is a war.
The Oregonian editorial does not go far enough. Every political candidate for every political office must speak to the issue of the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq, and at every campaign stop.
It’s not simply the economy, stupid. It’s the war economy.