“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”
It is with this quote that I begin today's philosophical post. There are a lot of folks out there who profess and proclaim the evils of war (and they do exist). They demand that under no circumstances should we engage in conflict.
There is some merit to this belief. And yet it comes from a position of unbridled strength. The United States has enjoyed, for many years since the end of World War II and near unparalleled military, economic and social supremacy over the remainder of the world. In the scale of global history, this is a very short time period.
Other nation states and empires enjoyed similar influence for far longer and with greater force. Rome, the Greeks, the Birtish Empire and even some of the Asian and American cultures exerted significant influence over a relatively sizable persentage of the population.
What is different is the level of premeability of our influence. We can reach any corner of the globe with our media, our culture and influence. This provides a VERY short half-life for many of these influences (thank heaven polyester never survived!). It also marks us as the culture to challenge, if only because we represent the image of a global hegemony.
And so it is with conflict. The media is hyping our possible clash with Iran, our obligation in Darfur, our error in Iraq, our lack of commitment in Afghanistan, our vulnerability in Korea, our disinterst in the Balkans and any number of pro or con discussions about the use of military might. Sort of a damned if we do or damned if we don't world, huh? The world wants us and yet they hate us. They covet our social structure and condemn all that it delivers.
So which is it? Do we exert influence in all its measures (the infamous DIME acronym) or not? Unlike every other nation, we can put forth our values across a broad spectrum. As the Oscars come up in the next few days, we will export our film culture to the world. Despite the crass materialism and self-flagellation of this event, it eclipses Cannes and any other recognition of film.
Frankly, I serve in the hopes that one day my sons will not have to. It's really that simple. I would much rather we were spending money on space exploration and colonization, new technology and moving towards the Star Trek universe. But we're a LONG way from that.
Does there need to be an Apocalypse before we can realize our potential as a species? Or is the role of our nation one of shepherd, to help guide the planet through a very tough period into one of stability and tolerance?
War is not always the answer, however, I think it depends on the question.