Monday, March 26, 2012

It's a funny thing living in America. Land of the free, home of the lazy. Things are good here, it's hard to say otherwise. Rule of law is sound, politicians are only slightly corrupt, the new sheriff doesn't end up dead on a routine basis and armed gangs don't roam the land. Compared to some other places, it's a paradise.

That's part of the problem really. It's too nice. Everything our forefathers fought and died for has come to be next to meaningless because we've never had to go without those things. So when our rights are eroded bit by bit in return for some imaginary thing that's better - freedom for perceived security, etc - we have no idea what we're building, part by part. We're all building an America that's extravagant, money-wasting, smothering, over-cautious and all too often, playing the job of Team America - World Police.

I love the military, don't get me wrong. The Department of Defense gave me my first real job. There is no more American institution, and with the vast power it has, the military has never tried to rule America. Take a look an any number of other countries where the military is the de facto government, simply because they are the strongest. Civilian direction of the military is one of the cornerstones of the America that we know.

That's part of the problem really. Civilians have little clue as to the horrors of war. That's not a bad thing, mind you. War never really made anything better, it just made bad things stop, and only sometimes. Often at the cost of the mental well-being of those that participated in it. But if you never see that side of it, and there's a problem, and you've got a giant military hammer, everything looks like a nail. Every conflict that gets good press, every 'strategic resource' or 'area of vital concern', no matter where it lies, who's country it's in, whether we should or shouldn't - we do.

It's expensive. It's hard to have a large military with expensive toys and not justify their existence somehow. Humans like wars, they really do. When problems come up, there's always someone willing to die to solve them. And that's the heart of the problem. If someone has to die, so be it. But we should never use military force as first resort. Nor should we impinge on inherent inalienable rights of others unless our continued survival is at risk. If you're going to kill a man, you'd better have a damn good reason. If you're going to occupy a country, it'd have to be an even better reason.

Well... As history goes, we've been shadowboxing 'perceived' threats since WWII. Very few of them, from a historian's viewpoint, could be considered legitimate. The eye of history is a cold one. We look at the Romans now and shudder at their bloody history of conquest and genocide. The glory of Rome was their excuse. What's ours?