An Answer from ANSWER -- SNAFU!

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Jul 10 14:17:52 MDT 2003


Americans are notoriously uncaring about where their stolen tax dollars are
spent. They are just as notoriously, thankfully, unwilling to sustain
casualties in combat, and especially when they think they're being
bullshitted about the war. Recent polling data shows this clearly. "Bring
them on" is very unfunny to anyone with a relative or loved one in Iraq.

David McDonald

Response Jim C: I think this is essentially correct as far as we can go to
make generalizations about "Americans" as people--as opposed to dominant
concepts and outlooks of certain dominant elements of the dominant segments
of the system purporting to speak for American "culture" overall.

But go back to Vietnam for a moment. It wasn't until the body bags started
coming back to Podunk Nebraska, small towns where everyone knew everyone
that opposition to the Vietnam War really took off in terms of converting
some elements of what might be termed the "mainstream" of American society.
Many Americans, self-centered and narcissistic, seeing things only in
personalized terms, do not care about casualties unless it hits home. It is
the old cognitive dissonance problem: I support the war, kill commies for
Jesus, etc BUT, my only kid, who I thought would take over the family farm
when he gets home, is now dead. Why? Some could resolve the CD problem with
something like "he died for his country" or I'm proud to have donated my
son's or daughter's life for the cause... But for others, it became personal
and only at that point did some rethinking take place. In the context of an
all-volunteer military, it is less and less likely that certain segments of
the U.S. population will suffer combat deaths of loved ones in the kinds of
personalized ways that took place in Vietnam; this is with the caveat that
as the contradictions and inequalities of capitalism continue to widen, more
and more people from the non-traditional segments of the population are
drawn into reserve duty to try to score some money for school etc.

Already, troops in Iraq are complaining of having been forgotten due to
other pressing issues and the notorious short memories, total ignorance
about the world outside--and inside--the U.S. and the abysmal ignorance of
history on the part of large segments of the American public and press.
Eventually this will spill over into declining rates of enlistment in the
reserves (no longer weekend warriors) and also as crises in the families of
mobilized reservists widen (so many families are operating on active duty
incomes less than half of their previous incomes while in the reserves and
also holding down regular jobs).

Another thing is that in the case of Vietnam, the U.S. hung on to the myth
that they were "defending" a sovereign nation against an invading and
separate nation in the north (Another reason why Tet was effective was to
explode this myth as before and during Tet, over 80% of the Vietnamese
fighting forces were NLF and indigenous to the south rather than "NVA"
"invaders".) In the case of Iraq, this is clearly internal and no claim is
being made of defending a nation against another invading nation.

Jim C



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