Starting a debate?
Towards the end of the Vietnam war I got the sense that US politics had shifted. Sure George McGovern was done in by his anti-war position in the 1972 presidential election. It did seem radical at the time and Nixon exploited that perception to win in a landslide vote. But as the war dragged on after that, one got the sense that anti-war thinking was going mainstream. A lot of Americans were getting fed up with the idea that the war could not be ended.
Well, that was short sighted on my part. Along came Ronald Reagan and then George Bush and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and now Barrack Obama, and in each of these presidential tenures, the US found itself at war again. It was not only at war but it was at war without a full declaration of war and without full mobilization of the country. With a professional army, the US could afford to fight wars without bothering most of the population. And so, war has become a political choice as much as a national security imperative. And for better or worse, to the rest of the world, the US is rightfully understood to have a rather belligerent posture.
Given this recent history, it may not be a bad idea to think again about how the US decides to go to war. Is the decision too easy? Rachel Maddow would say “yes”. And she has produced a book about how we got there called “Drift“. She recently gave an interview to Glenn Greenwald at Salon about the book. Check out the interview. It is a bit long (23 minutes). But I think it is worth your time to get a better sense of where we are. And I agree with Rachel, all is not well when we tolerate the idea of perpetual war.
And here is a video blurb from Rachel why in this case she felt that writing a book was her only option to get this discussion going. I embedded it to make it a bit easier to see her pitch. BTW, you can watch this for the substance (good) or from the technique she uses to tell her story (also good).