The news that the sailor in the iconic photo of VJ Day, Glenn McDuffie, 86, died a few days ago brought home the realization that it would no longer be possible for this country to have such a celebration.
The way our wars go these days, we no longer fight decisive battles which turn the tide. We go in, kill a few of the enemy, basically intimidate the rest into hiding through a show of superior force, occupy for a while, and eventually the war just sort of….peters out. Then, we withdraw so that the country can collapse into factionalism and even anarchy.
Somewhere along the line we started thinking that it was possible to "win hearts and minds" that are unwinnable and build nations which don't want to be built. Silly.
Had we just wanted to win, we would have easily bombed Iraq and Afghanistan into rubble, cut off their food and water and electricity, and forced them to their knees in a few days. (Not that we should have.)
Instead, we got involved with supporting one faction of a government, used Marquis of Queensberry rules to fight guerrillas who have no rules, and even worse, announce ahead of time that we would tie our own hands that way. We play the role of occupying force against guerillas. We never fight another country, we merely take sides within a country (and somehow, the side we support always seems to be corrupt.)
The idea that when the last soldier came home from Iraq a random serviceman might have grabbed a random nurse in Times Square and kissed her in celebration seems absurd. Apart from our evolving gender politics (he would have been clapped in jail for sexual assault), the fact is that there was really nothing to celebrate. Which is the ultimate proof that we should never have gone over there in the first place.
Glenn McDuffie, rest in peace.