Swans Commentary » swans.com December 19, 2005  



2005: Pessimism Unleashed


by Milo Clark





(Swans - December 19, 2005)  How can I look at 2005 dispassionately? Is it my shadow over which I consistently trip?

I am thrown back most involuntarily to 1971-72 when Vietnam and Nixon were unraveling, imploding in Kohr's sense. Rove shadows Haldeman. Colson was the muscle mind of the times. McNamera played a combination Cheney and Rumsfeld.

The players in today's dramas were cutting their bureaucratic teeth in support roles. Those who were to define usurpation of conservative as a socio-political identity were lurking shadows in the corridors of power. The coup d'état of 2000 was a wet dream of adolescent power fantasies.

Edward Luttwak, a student of strategies, in the London Review of Books (17 November 2005, p. 24) posits a most disturbing shadow speculation. Is it a speculation rather than a perspective on actualities?

He quotes military historian Martin L. Van Crevald's dictum, "men love war and women love warriors."

That he is right cannot be doubted because, with few exceptions, wars throughout history have been fought by volunteers, who had to love war to tolerate its inevitable hardships. . . . There is also a corollary: when women love warriors, they procreate sufficiently to replace the losses of war. That too cannot be doubted, for otherwise we would not be here.

The interval between WWI and WWII was one generation. Time enough to breed a new crop of young men to slaughter.

"What happens if men cease to love war and women no longer have warriors to love?" Do birth rates fall? Europe, home to so many very bloody wars, now records declining and aging populations. In the nuclear age, glorious wars can no longer be contemplated. We have to settle for limited and contained conflicts.

. . .one must recognize the truth that war can be very enjoyable, notwithstanding all the teachings, preachings and writings to the contrary or the denials of practitioners themselves.

. . . even in Iraq the essential attraction of war is present in full measure: its substitution of the repetitive idiocy of everyday life with the supreme excitement of combat readiness, that immensely pleasurable feeling of self-possession that comes from the knowledge that a fight to the death may start at any time, and that one is prepared for it, by mental disposition and acquired skills.

. . . its reality induces an infantile sense of dependence on anyone not unfriendly, which, barring immediate disappointment, transforms strangers into comrades, comrades into brothers, subordinates into precious allies and superiors into authoritative leaders.

To get perspective on the buddy nature of military life, visit any Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion bar and witness the festivities available any night of any week.

Mike Tucker, a Marine veteran and grit level special operations warrior turned journalist, penned Among Warriors in Iraq, True Grit, Special Ops and Raiding in Mosul and Fallujah. (1) "War is a journey into the unknown, with death on your back and a woman on your mind." (P. xi)

Tucker sings rhapsodies of war buddies wreaking hell with joyous elan. "Our warriors patrolled down dark streets in Iraq and across moonlit sands with little but their faith in each other and the love of their beloved to sustain them." (P. 229)

Incidentally and revealing, Tucker is no fan of George W. Bush. "Ground truth in Iraq lends little to support President Bush's repeated assertion, in the fall of 2004, that 'freedom is on the march'. . . . Freedom is not on the march in Iraq. Radical Islam is on the march." (P. 226)

Another veteran, Army officer retired Andrew J. Bacevich, now a distinguished historian, has written two pertinent books: American Empire, The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (2002) and The New American Militarism, How Americans are Seduced by War (2005). (2)

The cover blurb on Militarism notes:

. . . Andrew Bacevich warns that a new and dangerous obsession has taken hold of so many Americans, conservatives and liberals alike. It is marriage of militarism to utopian ideology, of unprecedented military power to a blind faith in the universality of American values. This perilous union . . . commits Americans to a futile enterprise, turning the United States into a crusader state with a self-proclaimed mission of driving history to its final destination: the world-wide embrace of the American way of life. This mindset invites endless war and the ever deepening militarization of U.S. Policy.

If we needed any verification of this actuality, 2005 provided it.

Are there suggestions in recent events that this too shall pass? Or will the obsession override alternatives once again?

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1.  Among Warriors in Iraq, True Grit, Specials Ops and Raiding in Mosul and Fallujah, Mike Tucker, Lyons Press, Guilford, CT, 2005, ISBN 1-59228-732-8.  (back)

2.  American Empire, The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy, Andrew J. Bacevich, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 2002, ISBN 0- 674-01375-1.

The New American Militarism, How Americans are Seduced by War, Andrew J. Bacevich, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 13: 978-0-19-517338-3.  (back)


Internal Resources

Years in Review

Patterns which Connect

America the 'beautiful'


About the Author

Milo Clark on Swans (with bio).



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This Edition's Internal Links

Michael Neumann's The Case Against Israel - Book Review by Gilles d'Aymery

Reflections On 2005 And The Future - Edward S. Herman

After The 2004 Elections - Louis Proyect

2005: Navigating The Doldrums...An Unprogressive, Sulking Year - Gilles d'Aymery

2005: Annus Propagandus - Jan Baughman

2005: A Look Back In Anger - Charles Marowitz

2005: Earth Responds, Illusions Crumble, Vision Needed - Eli Beckerman

2005: A Lamentable Year - Robert Wrubel

2005 And Its Possible Impact - Philip Greenspan

The Good Gardener - Gerard Donnelly Smith

Resistance Is No Longer A Choice - Joe Davison

Blips #31 - From the Editor's desk

Letters to the Editor

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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published December 19, 2005