I was born in 1951. I came of age during the Vietnam War. This morning I was perusing the New York Times when I came across an article about the Republican Neoconservative Establishment questioning the bona fides of Rand Paul. Phil Gramm --
“Let’s say you knew for certain that by May 1 of next year that Iran would have generated enough highly refined uranium to build a bomb,” Mr. Gramm said. “Would you support attacking?”I thought, "They just can't wait for the next endless, feckless, two trillion dollar catastrophe." I thought of what I'd learned over the past 62 years about war. For what it's worth...
1) Politics is full of macho, preening sociopaths like Phil Gramm...and "Bloody Bill" Kristol, and Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney. They will never suffer any consequences because of their actions. Their children never serve. They won't even lose their sinecures on the Sabbath gabfests. What they do is evil.
2) The tragedies they perpetrate are entirely preventable. The Iraq War was catastrophic in every way for America. It was whipped up out of nothing by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and pundits like Kristol. Bush and Condi Rice were brought in to "catapult the propaganda." The great Charlie Pierce has correctly stated that Cheney and Rumsfeld -- and Bush and Condi Rice and, yes, Colin Powell who knew better but let himself get mugged by the Neocons -- should spend the rest of their lives cleaning bedpans at a VA Hospital. Instead, Cheney gets $100,000 to give speeches to other sociopaths.
3) Wars are very easy to get into, and very, very difficult to get out of. Only someone like George W. Bush -- who took a pass on serving in Vietnam -- could ignore this history lesson. I wanted to scream at Phil Gramm, "What happens after we attack them? How many billions of dollars do we spend fighting them in their own country? How many Americans died? How many trillions of dollars do we spend? Are you willing to demand a tax hike to pay for it, or will you -- like Dubya & Company -- put the whole thing on our grandkids credit card?"
4) There's a sickening media complicity in all these useless wars. It goes something like this: First, the decision to go to war. This is always framed as "we, America, a nation dedicated to peace, reluctantly must (MUST!) go to war in order to (made up reason here). Then, anyone who opposes the war is framed first as a coward, then as a traitor. Chickenhawk talking heads like Sean "Never Served" Hannity and Rush "Dodged the Draft" Limbaugh will scream the loudest, in full self-righteous dudgeon. All this bloviation will create a sense of inevitability. Next, the war, which quickly becomes a tragic stalemate. Then America has an "oh shit" moment, and we pull out. Finally, the people who got us into it beat up on the (probably Democratic) President as "weak-willed" and "lacking backbone" for refusing to throw more of America's kids into the meat grinder.
So, finally, here are my questions for Phil Gramm and his fellow "Republican Power Brokers" sipping martinis at the Four Seasons in Georgetown:
1) If we go to war with Iran, will you agree that your own children will serve in the military, in front-line combat positions?
2) Are you willing to go before the American public, provide an accurate assessment of how much the war might cost in blood and treasure if it goes on for 10 years, and demand taxpayers approve a tax increase to pay for the war?
3) Are you willing to ask for additional tax increases to pay for the inevitable ancillary costs to take care of veterans of this war at VA hospitals?
The reason people like Gramm get away with shit like this is because there are -- literally -- no consequences for failure. They get to look like fearless warriors, and when it all goes bad they ignore the wreckage.
All I can do is fight...and read my Wilfred Owen. Thanks for reading.