Monday, July 24, 2006

Changing The Channel

Either this headline indicates that this space has a reader at CNN, or the boredom of the remote-control warriors I posted about here is becoming painfully obvious. Whichever the case, we've reached the point at which the word "forgotten" is popping up in public discourse to describe Iraq. Incredible, isn't it? By the way, what does that make Afghanistan?

When Bill Clinton was first elected, there was a lot of commentary about how the baby boomer generation finally had one of its own in the Oval Office. That generation---the planners, the enablers, and yes the "faster, please" opiners---now has its first major war on its résumé. To the extent there's a gap between the immutable realities of war and the remote-control generation's short attention span and desire for immediate gratification, what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy and military strategy in the future?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

google 'truman doctrine'to start..

"The initial build-up of the UN in U.S. public opinion was so tremendous that it is possibly true, as is frequently alleged, that we have no choice but to make it the cornerstone of our policy in this post-hostilities period. Occasionally, it has served a useful purpose. But by and large it has created more problems than it has solved, and has led to a considerable dispersal of our diplomatic effort. And in our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation, which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part." (George Kennan 1948)

7/24/2006 8:25 PM  
Anonymous ctbill said...

Interesting question, certainly an issue to think about. Will planners continue to operate on pre-Boomer assumptions (as I think they have re: Iraq) or will policy change to match rapidly changing social values?

7/24/2006 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To the extent there's a gap between the immutable realities of war and the remote-control generation's short attention span and desire for immediate gratification, what are the implications for U.S. foreign policy and military strategy in the future?"

I'm not so sure we can lay all the blame squarely on the need for immediate gratification. It's interesting to note that for those wars where the American public was fully aware of the need for war, it's desired outcome and potential risks, we rallied to the cause - and then some. Whether you agree or disagree with the need for Iraq and Afghanistan, it's difficult to dismiss the way the American public was led astray in the weeks and months leading up to the invasion. Like FDR's fireside chats, someone should have sat down with the American public and stated matter-of-factly, "This is a new kind of enemy. Defeating this enemy will require new tactics. Our aim is not only to defeat the enemy but the social, political, and religious struggles from which this enemy arises. It will be exceedingly difficult. It will take a very, very long time. It will be anything but easy." Had such words been spoken, debated, and ultimately assimilated into the national consciousness, it would have taken us longer to go to war - perhaps another 9/11 - but once there, we would see it through.

FDR understood that democracy must do what it does best; it must lose itself to save itself.

7/24/2006 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't count on the boomers engaging in any self analysis regarding this issue, they are too busy trying to figure out how their "Faustian bargain" has gone so wrong.

7/24/2006 9:35 PM  
Anonymous George said...

I'm not so sure that Iraq is the Baby Boomer's war. A lot of the architects of the fiasco (Cheney, Rummy, some of the Neocons) are not Boomers. Opposition to Iraq is pretty high among Boomers. Is it really fair to tag this much-maligned generation with "ownership" of this war because they happened to be the largest population cohort at the time that BushCo sold the country a pack of lies? Iraq is the Bush supporter's war, regardless of their generation.

As for the thesis that our supposed short attention spans (caused by what, Dobie Gillis reruns? The Dukes of Hazard?) is causing us to turn away from the war, I don't buy it. The media have turned away because Israel and Hezbollah are trying to ignite WWIII, and perhaps because the upturn in violence has them pinned down in their Bagdad hotels. The American public may have turned away because it's a depressing quagmire. We Americans hate to lose, and people don't want to be reminded that we seem to be losing (or have lost) there. It's kind of like the way most people stop checking on their stock portfolios after the market has tanked.

7/24/2006 10:59 PM  
Blogger Marshall Darts said...

"Baby Boom" Anti-War Effect on the Iraq War

The sentiment against an extended war in Iraq has grown much more quickly than in the past. Part of the reason was that in the Gulf War we were able to get in and out quickly. The bombing of Serbia into submission was even quicker. We were promised more of the same by the Bush Administration in our WMD war in Iraq.

It was the Gulf War, though, that got us over the supposed "Vietnam Syndrome," misinterpreted by most conservatives as Americans not wanting to fight any war. Post-Vietnam society never really suffered from a "syndrome," which sounds like a serious mental malady.

Instead, U.S society had learned an important lesson; that the U.S. could not always impose its will on other countries. Americans of the "baby boom" lived, and many fought, through that senseless, bloody war.

Back in the 1960's and '70's the anti-war movement started on campuses and moved slowly into the social mainstream. Although not a movement today, Republicans should not forget that the boomers are still here, and do remember the real lessons of Vietnam. One is that there should be no open-ended commitments to war.

The people who started the Iraq war were the Young Republicans of the 1960's. They were the guys like Cheney with the short hair, rather than the long hair, who were avoiding the draft. There were no Young Democrats because the anti-war movement was a spontaneous movement, not a political one. The anti-war movement party didn't trust either political party.

Those Young (now old) Republicans who got us into Iraq, are the conservatives who totally misinterpreted Vietnam as a "sydrome" rather than a lesson to be learned about the limits of American power. Since they refused to learn that lesson, we are all paying the price in terms of dead soldiers, huge deficits, and no "light at the end of the tunnel."

Now the "boomers" are in their 50's and 60's, and once again see their country stuck in what seems an open-ended commitment to war, another one of the real lessons of Vietnam. That's why anti-war sentiment in the country has arisen so much more quickly over the Iraq war than it did in Vietnam.

The boomers are also now in the age range that produces the highest voter turnout. So beware pro-war politicians. Don't let the Vietnam Syndrome get you down, and out of elective office.

8/09/2006 12:36 PM  
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