Friday, August 16, 2002

Lagniappe - I must admit, I am getting a bit tired of the slogan "America at War." You see it all over the place. Newspapers, television networks, websites, etc., have special sections dedicated to "America at War." I have to say, I just don't see the "War" anymore. I see intensive counter-terrorism action, low-intensity conflict, detentions and questionings, etc., but I don't see the "War." Now don't get me wrong. There is no doubt that we are contending with evil people that have done us grave harm, and would like to continue doing so. But hasn't it basically always been this way - at least since the post-WWII global primacy of the US has been unquestioned? In that sense, we've always been at war. But, until now, our leaders have been circumspect with the language of "war-mongering" and have never used such language so cavalierly - and for good reason. Being "at War" brings with it all kinds of challenges to some of our most cherished principles. Being "at War" gives special powers to leaders that we may grudgingly sacrifice, but which go against the grain of our sense of individual freedom, not to mention our tenacious desire to hold public officials and public policy in some way accountable to the public! My fear is that if we, as a society, become desensitized to what being in a "state of war" means, we will become unwitting dupes to the use of "war powers" in situations that actually have very little to do with war. There is an ominous and dangerous trend these days among our politicians of all political persuasions to claim that every little special piece of pork legislation, or every little budget item, or every little grab for power is necessary given an "America at War."

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