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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Whose war is it, anyway?”

    Sarah Palin said something outrageous the other week. It was so outrageous, in fact, that everyone ignored it in favor of the second-most outrageous thing she said that day.

    “”This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans,”” Palin told a crowd in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 16. “”Those who are running our factories and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us.””

    What was odd about Palin’s comment was not that she lionized “”everyday Americans.”” It was that she distinguished “”us”” from, presumably them. She made it sound as if “”those who are running our factories”” somehow weren’t included in the “”our,”” as if “”our wars”” were somehow not theirs.

    That queer, ugly phrase “”fighting our wars for us,”” in fact, sounded like something out of an anti-war diatribe. For a vice presidential candidate even to suggest that the many are fighting wars for the interests of the few is downright radical, in fact.

    It’s certainly a much more extreme anti-war sentiment than anything Sen. Barack Obama has ever said. The strongest thing Obama has said was his October 2003 statement on the Iraq War: “”I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.””

    In these times, even opposing a “”dumb war”” is enough to get you labeled a lily-livered pacifist, so Obama’s been hastening to shore up his reputation as a tough-minded Democrat. After Sen. John McCain assailed his initial statement on the Georgia-Russia fracas as insufficiently harsh on Russia, Obama came back with a demand that Russia pull out of Georgia. “”McCain did not have to consult his advisers to instantly identify the aggressor,”” snorted conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, as if the mark of a true statesman was the ability to willfully ignore mere facts in favor of personal prejudices.

    This kind of blind one-upmanship is one of the reasons we wound up in Iraq in the first place. We saw it in the way the American media united behind an “”official story”” comprised of falsehood in the Georgia-Russia “”crisis”” (see “”In Georgia, all is not as it seems,”” Daily Wildcat, Aug. 25, 2008). We saw it in the way Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been trumped up from an attention-seeking blowhard to a second Hitler promising another Holocaust. It happens every time.

    Once our rulers have started pounding the war drums, the entire elite is swift to line up behind them and there are precious few with sufficient courage to speak out against them. This is why it’s so tremendously important that a man who is loudly opposed to “”dumb wars”” is about to take the reins of the presidency.

    There are danger signs. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama expressed his admiration for the leadership of Cold War liberals like Dean Acheson and Harry Truman, who “”married Wilsonian idealism to hardheaded realism.””

    Those, like me, who worry that such pleasant-sounding ideas dragged us into bloody, extended wars in Korea and Vietnam don’t have much choice in this election. They have to trust in Obama’s decency and level-headedness to keep us out of trouble. After all, their only alternative is McCain, who once opined: “”The American people are generous. They are willing to sacrifice in the defense of someone else’s freedom.””

    When he said that back in 1995, McCain provided a useful service. He reminded us that the vast majority of the wars and foreign interventions America engages in are indeed not “”ours.”” They are someone else’s.

    America is the de facto keeper of the world’s peace. According to a useful Web site, globalissues.org, we were responsible for 48 percent of world military spending in the last year alone. The Constitution provides no pretext for this role. It asks only that the federal government protect the country from invasion. Given that we spend 10 times more than Russia on our military and nearly a hundred times more than Iran, I don’t think we’ve got much to worry about.

    What good does this global-sheriff role provide us? It doesn’t make the world safer; instead, it provokes fury and resentment among our allies and lends ammunition to our enemies. Worse, it provides a constant pretext for reckless warmongering.

    Any time a president wishes to start a war for political reasons (and there is rarely any other reason), he has the means to. An enormous standing army provides a ready excuse for tyranny. Every real patriot since the Founding Fathers has known that.

    Even now, as pundits ask where Obama is going to get the money for his ambitious health care plan and other programs to improve the lives of the citizenry (who, after all, pay taxes for that purpose and no other), no one dares give the obvious answer. No one dares suggest what every sane American surely knows to be the truth.

    The answer is to cut military spending. Not all of it, but enough of it to force an end to “”our”” dumb wars. What frightens the elite this year, I think, is that they suspect the American people may just have had enough of “”their”” wars.


    – Justyn Dillingham is the opinions editor of the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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