Search Box

Thursday, March 20, 2014

No more VJ Days

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.


jova said...

True , we don't have victory days anymore. But it is difficult to celebrate the end of a war when no war is ever declared.

When was the last time congress declared War ?
Probably against Germany in 1941

It is not easy to declare war against nations which never attacked us, so I can understand why congress refused to declare war against Korea, Vietnam , Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan , Libya etc....

It is also hard to celebrate the end of these military actions, as they have no clear objectives, and thus they never appear to end.

John Craig said...

Jova --
You are completely right. I hadn't thought of the Congressional declaration aspect, but it's true. And you're right about the lack of clear objectives, too. The Fog of War has now extended to their aims as well as their administration.

Anonymous said...

Adding to jova's point about our "wars" not being actual wars, they haven't been "victories", either.
If we did have parades today, any public displays of affection would likely be vulgar; and would only be published by a major magazine if the couple was interracial.

John Craig said...

Anon --
True, no victories.

Not sure I agree with you about the only conditions the media would publish pictures of PDA: it's more likely a function of the fame of those involved.

Anonymous said...

This is another good article, believing that the wars that we've been involved in (since World War II) have been senseless. I do have compassion for people in other countries - injustices that they've suffered. We should remain neutral, staying out of other countries affairs, refusing to solve their problems. We end up involved in one huge mess (time and time again), finding it hard to extricate ourselves from the current situation that we're embroiled in.

- Susan

John Craig said...

Susan (Birdie?) --
Thank you. Yes, there's almost never any upside to getting involved in other countries' internal conflicts. Plus our support often ends up hurting those it was originally supposed to help. First we support the Muslim Brotherhood, then we're against it, etc.

Anonymous said...

What you said is so true. Getting involved in other countries' "internal conflicts" is rarely ever good. The people that we want to help the most end up not having enough (or adequate) support from us. It's frustrating. We live in an imperfect world, unfortunately (where things aren't the way you'd like them to be).

- Susan (aka "birdie")

John Craig said...

Birdie --
Yes, and even when we don't totally withdraw our support, they always end up hating us anyway. Does the average Iraqi now feel great fondness in his heart for the Americans? Does the average Afghan? Do they feel gratitude for all the money we poured into their country, and the American lives which were sacrificed? Of course not.

Maybe that should be our guiding rule: if they're not going to be grateful afterward, we shouldn't go there.