The Möbius Strip-Tease of History

“The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.” –Robert Lynd

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” –General Smedley D. Butler

“The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” –William Faulkner

I wonder. Perhaps one reason I’ve had so much trouble making peace with the Vietnam War is our endless barrage of further military adventures since then. Sequels are rarely much good … although Vietnam itself was a sequel too. For a peace-loving country, we sure do get into lots of fights. Maybe it’s us?
. Seminole Wars … Mexican War … Black Hawk War … Red Cloud’s War … Nez Perce Wars … Spanish-American War … Wounded Knee Massacre … I thought of listing them all, but the list goes on and on. And Wikipedia’s page isn’t really comprehensive or current. If you have the heart for it, here’s the link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations

There’s also the haunting, infuriatingly familiar look, feel and smell of each “new” war, as my government drums up support for it. (Damn that lousy Groundhog Day movie anyway.) It’s deja vu all over again all over the suffering world. Case in point — Crimean War 2.0 coming right up! Guess that first one was just too much fun. Tennyson seemed to think so.

… Half a league, half a league, half a league onward – forward, the light brigade …
… Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do or die …

Isn’t it lucky the world has my benevolent, democracy-loving country to keep all the bullies and bogeymen in line. Yes, lucky.

Robert E. Lee said “It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it.” At the Battle of Fredericksburg — one of the bloodier episodes of our obscenely bloody Civil War. I thought of adding some Matthew Brady photos — the ones showing piles of amputated body parts outside field hospitals. But if you have ever seen one, it’s still in your memory, unless you’re far better at protective amnesia than I am. If you have the stomach for it, here are links for them.

http://www.history.com/photos/civil-war-mathew-brady
http://listverse.com/2008/11/18/top-20-great-us-civil-war-photographs/
http://www.archives.gov/research/military/civil-war/photos/index.html

Lee might have added “It is well that war is so terrible — lest we find it so profitable we’ll go out and manufacture one, if none crops up naturally at a convenient time”. But of course, we would never do that. We’re the good guys, just ask anybody.

“To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.” –Tacitus

“You can’t say that civilization don’t advance, for in every war they kill you in a new way.” –Will Rogers

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About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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13 Responses to The Möbius Strip-Tease of History

  1. Our wars of Empire go a lot further back to Vietnam. They started shortly after the signing of the Constitution (one of the main reason the Constitution was written was to raise money for a federal army to invade the Indian territories west of the Appalachians). Then you had the war against Mexico to seize California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Then the war against Spain to seize Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Then World War I to assist Britain and France in carving up the old Ottoman Empire to allow white people access to the Middle East oil states.

    None of these wars benefit ordinary people, though we pay for them, both in taxes and lives. In every case they primarily benefit the banksters, oil companies and defense contractors who initiate them. All we get out of it is cheap gas, coffee and sugar.

    • Well Stuart, since our English colonists prospered in the first place by taking the high road — trading in slaves, tobacco, molasses and rum — maybe we can’t reasonably expect much better of their descendants yet. I kind of do, though! And I hope it’s not just sour grapes because my ancestors didn’t get rich. Thanks for your good comment. – Linda

    • tubularsock says:

      Now hold everything SB! Cheap COFFEE is worth a war once in awhile. Of course only if we are helping those little brown people obtain democracy under our boot. God Bless America as America likes to say, not so much God. She’s busy getting the sun up every morning. Hence, the need for coffee.

      • Tubularsock, oh this is not good. All too often, what you say seems ALMOST sensible while I’m reading it. Mostly, it wears off afterwards, which is lucky.

        But now — you’ve hit me where I live! Coffee is a serious necessity. Worth a war? Rationally, absolutely not!! And yet … am I strictly rational when I’m caffeine-deprived? That’s less clear-cut.

        And the only thing certain in any war-mongering is that NOBODY IN POWER gives a damn about promoting pece, freedom, justice or democracy. Not when they’re all working so hard at undermining and eradicating them in their own backyards. – Linda

        • tubularsock says:

          It has been said by some that Tubularsock’s ideas are ALWAYS sensible. And by others as ALMOST sensible. Well, Tubularsock believes that ALWAYS is the optimum word here.

          What does “rationality” have to do about any war? Tubularsock believes in caffeine-driven-killing for peace when coffee is involved.

  2. tubularsock says:

    Linda, “Suppose they gave a war and no one came …………..”
    Tubularsock would love to see that happen …. even once!
    Evocative post. Now, I’ll have my coffee!

    • Yes! The Edsel of wars, one nobody will buy! Amen, I’d love that too!

      But if you ever have a war
      without blood and gore,
      I’ll be the first to go!

      Thanks for the good comments, and the great idea. – Linda

      And I almost forgot — if they can genetically modify everything else, why don’t they develop coffee that grows like zucchini, that I can raise in my garden or cold frame?

      • tubularsock says:

        Dear Monsanto, will you please release your coffee-zucchini plant seeds that you have copyrighted so Linda can plant them in her cold frame.

        Sincerely, Tubularsock

        • Ahh, I tricked you — I felt sure you’d know about such things if anyone did. Now I’ll need bigger cold frames! Thanks! – Linda

          But now I’m wondering … will GMO coffee-chini be legal? Never mind safe to drink — we don’t really expect safe drugs at this point.

          • tubularsock says:

            The question is……… Is GMO coffee-chini legal?

            ONLY if you smoke it in Amsterdam.

            • Good to know, though I can’t abide smoking. Maybe I’ll revive an old family business … I never heard of bootlegging coffee , but you have to move with the times. I can see it now — clandestine coffee roasters down every side road … Gotta be better than meth labs — it could do wonders for the underground economy. – Linda

              • Well, I’m certainly late to this party! I’m bootlegging champagne, so anything is possible! My ‘Champcanerica’ pipeline is making me money hand over fist! Now, back to your latest post with more coughing and catching up to do!

                • Shelby, you’re always welcome — any time is party time here! And it occurs to me, between your champagne pipeline, and my impending coffee hacienda, we could cover people’s major daily drug needs, from jump-starting their mornig to slowing things down in the evening — just like big pharma. Uppers and downers, if that’s still proper terminology. Maybe a co-operative venture or merger would serve our mutual interests?

                  Then again, it may be easier to um, finesse? smaller operations, as far as … possible legal vulnerabilities or complications might go. And maybe I’d better see if my damn way-over-priced Monsanto seeds will sprout before I start counting any chickens. Thanks for commenting, and do take good care of that cough. Happy almost-vernal equinox — come on, green! I’m beyond ready. – Linda

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