Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grandfathers and Empires

My friend Gino, who comments frequently here, made a typically provocative comment here yesterday concerning Memorial Day:

think of how many other grandfathers would still be here if our govt had minded its own affairs and left other to attend to theirs.
for me, this is a one lesson of memorial day that seems to be left out of the festivities.
Yes, I think we should think about this. The subject of grandfathers came up because I had mentioned that my own grandfather had served in World War I. My grandfather died four years before I was born, so I never had a chance to meet him or ask him about his experience. I have every reason to suspect his experience was pretty ghastly, though, as World War I was horrible. It was a war of trenches and poison gas and atrocities galore, a war that resolved nothing, with a peace that led to an even more horrific war 30 years later.

Our government places soldiers all over the world now, which makes us a reluctant imperial power, but an imperial power nonetheless. We have garrisons in nearly every place we've ever fought -- Germany, Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan. We spend incredible amounts of money and put people at risk in many of those locations, for reasons that aren't always clear.

In the normal course of things, many of the men who have fought and died would have become grandfathers. Increasingly, women who one day would have been grandmothers are fighting and dying, too. Gino is correct -- we do need to think about why we are maintaing a presence in so many places, trying to bridge so many gaps, involved in so many disputes that aren't, at bottom, our concern. It's easy to say we're trying to make the world a better place. But are we certain that is the case?


Brad Carlson said...

Very good point made by Gino, no doubt. But I don't believe that should be a blanket statement for all conflicts.

After all, we were minding our own business on Dec. 6, 1941 as well as 9/11/2001.

Gino said...

no we were not.
we were involved in the pacific, putting sanctions on the japs, etc.. taking sides before we started shooting.
japan acted premptively. we pushed them to it.

9/11: OBL said it was because we were involved in their business, every where, all the time. he said we asked for it.
i wont say that exactly, but we did sow the seeds, and should have seen something was coming.

Brad Carlson said...

I dunno, Gino. Your rationale sounds an awful lot like justifying a guy getting beaten up becasue he happens to be strolling through a bad neighborhood at night. Is the guy taking a stroll making an ill-advised move? No question. But does that justify the neighborhood thugs kicking his ass just because he was where he shouldn't be? Pretty weak.

Gino said...

nice shawn hannity attempt, there, but it misses the mark. America isnt always innocent.

we werent casually strolling through asia, and trade embargos are not casual things. niether is involving yourself in somebody else's fights.

if two gangs in the neighborhood are shooting it out, you cant reload weapons for one side and then say you werent involved.

Bike Bubba said...

If we had truly wanted to avoid WWII, the proper time for that would have been in 1919, when Wilson could have actually taken part in the Versailles negotiations to prevent the pillage of Germany by the French.

Or in 1929, when Kellogg-Briand came out as a huge disaster for all developed economies ("Hey, let's disarm vs. people who hate us!), or in the thirties, when France and Britain could have easily stomped Schicklgruber's armies into a puddle of mush.

I'd love to disengage, but unfortunately, too many people want to engage, and it's far better to engage before Rommel is in North Africa.