Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Jon Stewart's disconnect

I’ve always thought that Jon Stewart was a great deal more than just a funny man, and that was confirmed in the interview with Bill Moyers on PBS the other night. He is a serious man who cares deeply about his country, and this statement by him in particular made me sit up,

But war that hasn't affected us here, in the way that you would imagine a five-year war would affect a country. I think that's why they're so really — here's the disconnect. It's sort of this odd and I've always had this problem with the rationality of it. That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect there between — you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it. I'm sure what he would like to do is send 400,000 more troops there, but he can't, because he doesn't have them. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft. And the minute you do that, suddenly the country's not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart. So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.

I have commented before on this lack of involvement by the country as a whole in the war and the failure of leadership that is implied by that lack, but Stewart’s evaluation takes that one step farther and it is an important step.

If this is the struggle upon which this generation and all future generations depends, then why is such a miniscule portion of the resources of this great country committed to this so-called great ideological struggle?

The vast majority of the fighting-aged men and women of this country are engaged in the pursuit of wealth and comfort, business as usual, and only a small handful of them are engaged in the life-and-death commitment to the defense of freedom. Not only has the leadership of this country not instituted a draft, it has not even issued any kind of “call to arms” at all.

Only some 1% of the GDP of this country is committed to this “great struggle” and that only on a deficit basis. Not only is our leadership not raising taxes to pay for this supposedly vitally important war, it insists on cutting taxes and passing the cost of this war on to future generations.

Our manufacturing might is still devoted to producing gas-guzzling SUV’s, refrigerators and other luxury goods. The IED-resistant trucks that are so desperately needed by our troops will take years to produce but, if we put our industry on a war footing basis, we could produce them in months if not weeks. Doing that, though, would mean that all those young men and women who are making millions selling hedge funds wouldn’t have their SUV’s to drive.

Bush and Company love to compare this war to WW2, but if we had fought the Axis the way we are fighting this war, Europe would be the Third Reich today and the Pacific would be a Japanese lake. Either this war is not as important as George Bush wants us to believe, or…

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