Years ago the late great historian and author Gore Vidal came up with that phrase ‘Perpetual War’. He knew, that even back to the early days of our republic, we are a nation predicated on Perpetual War. Whether it be war on Native Americans (who were here way before the Mayflower landed), or war on different people of color (Mexican War, subjugation of the Filipino people, orchestrated Coup de Tats against Cubans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Chileans… to name but a few), and of course WW1 and WW2, the Cold War vs. our former allies the Soviet Union (who actually defeated Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut), Coup de Tats in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and much of Africa (the latest being Libya), subversions in Italy and Greece after WW2… and on and on as my Yiddish friends would say Oy Gevalt!
As a baby boomer, this writer can elaborate more on the dastardly deeds done in my name during the 60s and on. The Vietnam phony war was my ‘baptism into activism’ exactly 50 years ago this coming Spring. The following seemed to capture the essence of this Perpetual War:
Knights in White Satin
The procession of generals marches slowly
with the clouds of gunpowder behind them,
as another encounter ceases to flame
and the shouts of battle burn invisibly
from what once were bunkers of manhood
reduced now to pools of slaughterhouse blood
flooding charred carcasses, uniformed but in death.
And the plotter never once look back
for the optimism of victory will not allow it.
they simply smile and pat on another
and then interrupt for a quick reflection;
and their silence is for that glorious past
and all those poor pitiful pawns,
and for future harvests which will occur
on the plains now of blood and sweat
in the limbo era that is renamed WAR.
My nation, the one that I do love, has always found another crisis to keep the suckers’ minds off of what truly ails them. No, this Military Industrial Empire cannot allow too much attention on a fairer economy for working stiffs, or better health and dental coverage, or better roads, bridges, schools, libraries, first providers and teachers. Instead, they usher out whatever Sap is occupying the White House to tell us about new threats to our way of life in this (Forever) War on Terror. Reminds one of the scene from the 1970 film Patton, when General George Patton is driving by two marching GIs right after another battle in France. One GI says to the other “There goes old ‘blood and guts’ (Patton’s nickname)”. The other soldier retorts “Yeah OUR blood HIS guts!”
The morning of March 19, 2003 will always resound in my memory bank. I awoke early, after staying up late the night before watching a Canadian News network’s coverage of the soon to be attack on Iraq. I turned on either CNN or MSNBC (same crap) and saw the footage of our Shock and Awe carpet bombing of Baghdad. The newscaster seemed to be almost cheerleading the death and destruction of a modern city. I cried! One surmises that I am still crying.. especially when hearing the same **** about this ongoing (forever?) War on Terror. To this day there are TOO many of my fellow citizens, some my neighbors, who say with pride “We are fighting them there so that they don’t come here!”
Anybody want to buy this bridge in Brooklyn? Great deal.