Monday, November 01, 2010

The New Isolationism

There is another excellent article at Tom Dispatch which, if you do not have on your regular reading list, I urge you to add, about the change in this nation’s attitude toward war. William Astore begins by briefly mentioning “America’s historic tradition of rejecting a large standing army.”

In fact, it’s more than a tradition, it’s written into our constitution; something that right wing constitutionalists tend to conveniently ignore. Section 8 of that document, listing the powers of Congress, states, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” Interestingly, to this Navy veteran, its power “To provide and maintain a Navy” is not time limited.

He discusses our entries into both World Wars; how such entry was preceded by “isolationism” and reluctance on the part of the public to become engaged in foreign war, and the shift into the state of perpetual war that this country engages in today.

Astore describes at length how our military-industrial corporatism has created a new form of “isolationism,” one in which the nation is constantly at war while the public remains isolated from the impact of that war. His point is supported by the amount of discussion that has been devoted to war in the present election, one of the most heated and contentious in my memory, and one in which the topic of wars has been conspicuous by its absence.

And yet it is interesting that even as we so rigorously isolate the public from the wars we are fighting, we simultaneously create a climate of idolatry regarding the warriors who are fighting them. We recite the endless mantra of "supporting the troops," and no amount of money is too much to spend on their welfare when they return from battle. Citizens applaud when they walk through airports and stop them on the street to "thank them for their service." And yet there is no discussion whatever on how much and for how long we will continue to send them in harm’s way. There is no regard for how many times each one of them will serve a tour of duty in which he/she can be maimed or killed.

What a fascinating dichotomy this new form of isolationism presents.


Bartender Cabbie said...

Interesting site. Added to my favs.

bruce said...

internal vs external isolationism. Interesting indeed.

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