17 March 2008

Iraq in the Talking Points (More Bizarre Sunday Rambling)

There is an article today about a well-to-do New Yorker who decided to shun the life of glamour and join the Army. If you thought the military was mostly brain-dead hicks, you would be incredibly wrong. The military is the one of the few professions where it doesn’t really matter your socio-economic background before joining. Once you get to Boot Camp/OCS you are all equally worthless as the Full Metal Jacket line goes. Of course, you learn things, sometimes the hard way, and become more and more respected. This type of submission of will to a collective entity seems like it could conflict with our generation’s mantra of self-importance, but you would be surprised at how much you can live once you realize that your existence isn’t the most important thing in the universe. This paradigm is seemingly incompatible with understanding an issue like Iraq, where most Americans self-style themselves with having little invested. Therefore, something as monolithic as war has slipped into something as trite as stating “What’s in it for me?”

War is an ugly, nasty business and I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought otherwise. But one thing I have been fascinated with is how war is incorporated into the political spectrum and into the media. Immediate access to the gruesome reality of war is, literally, one-click away. Jihadi videos beheading hostages can be viewed on Live Leak, the media can have a reporter who snaps a photo of a car bomb that has just detonated in a Baghdad marketplace and have it on the internet in minutes, and soldiers can tell their tales of the horror and triumph with one trip to the blogosphere. While there is certainly nothing that can compare with the first-hand experience, all of this information has the ability to bring the passive observer closer to the reality of war. Yet, there seems to be a growing disconnect by the American citizenry and the long lasting conflict in Iraq. People talk of Iraq as if it is a simple issue with two political parties vying for power in an election year. The Iraq war is just a bumper sticker that conveniently ignores the amount of life lost and is a mere five-second soundbite on the evening news.

This disaffiliation is a natural outcome of largesse unfortunately. The reason it is dangerous is due to the fact that people either willfully want to rush off onto another ill-prepared endeavor into a foreign country or they choose to ignore the consequences of abandoning Iraq at the present time. Counter-points to these arguments are, in general, equally as frivolous: “cut-and-run”, “no blood for oil”, “defeatocrats”, “warmongers”, etc. While Iraq can be discussed rationally for endless hours, the complexities of the biggest conflict of the decade usually degrade into a few quick tidbits of information. This gross misconception of the war can permit people to act in a simple-minded fashion and resort to attacks on the opposition with tenuously held beliefs. Democracy is the least worst form of government, but can we allow political swindlers vying for power to take advantage of an electorate that has so little understanding. I do not advocate an emperor to rule over us subjects, but I advocate encouraging folks to comprehend the complex dynamic of what is happening in this beleaguered country. That’s all I can hope for. My own existence is unimportant, but a few decent ideas from a large group of individuals can contribute to a better society. That's all I can hope for at this point.


Anonymous said...

Blood for oil Whats the exchange rate on blood?

lela said...

"I do not advocate an emperor to rule over us subjects, but I advocate encouraging folks to comprehend the complex dynamic of what is happening in this beleaguered country. That’s all I can hope for."

That's all any of us can hope for, and that iota of comprehension comes from reading blogs authored by folks like you; those who really have "been there, done that." Thanks for trying to help us understand.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/17/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.