Tuesday, February 21, 2006


American Hell

I was going out my back door today, on my way to work, when I noticed my neighbor's American flag. It was worn, torn, frayed, and basically disintegrated.

I wondered when he put the flag up for the first time, and reckoned it was probably sometime around mid-September, 2001. Just a guess, because I didn't live here at that time and I don't know for sure. And I don't even know his name, so asking him about it is out of the question.

But I started thinking about that flag. Over the past years, it has become a barely recognizable replica of what it once was. And, as much as I hate to admit this, so has the country I have loved and lived in my whole life. My neighbor's flag has gone to hell, which is regrettable but ultimately none of my business. My country itself has also gone to hell, and that is completely my business.

Why has America gone to hell? The most glaring reason is because of war. Wasn't it William T. Sherman, who knew all about war, who claimed that war is hell? I'll accept that at face value, never having observed war close up before.

It therefore follows that a country embroiled in the kind of perma-war we have now is indeed hellish. Nobody complained too much about Afghanistan. The Taliban was there, they gave bin Laden support, and that was an easy call. But Iraq was different. And that's where it all went wrong.

We made war on that country. Plain and simple. They hadn't attacked us, and had no capability of doing so. But King George had a score to settle. He had to outdo the old man, who had laid off on pulling the trigger because he knew it was wrong. Regrettably, the teeny moral compass that Bush 41 had was not passed on to his son.

Now 2200 of our soldiers are dead, upwards of 10,000 more are wounded, and the enemies of America are growing every day. Think about the images fromAbu Grahib. Think about the bombs that are dropped onto weddings and markets and other places where innocent civilians gather. Think about the children who are rousted from their bed by American troops in the middle of the night, terrified as their parents and their houses are searched by men with guns pointed at them. Will they grow up to hate America? How could they not?

A decade ago when I was teaching US History, I waved the flag as much as anybody. Told my students America was the best country in the world. A leader in so many things. But that was then. And now, with 2+ years left of this king, where are we at?

At war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran (within the next month or two??) and who knows who else.
The military is running on fumes, because they can't recriut at the rate they need to to replace the casulties they have already suffered. Everyone now knows that signing up means Afghanistan or worse. So they don't sign up.
We are also deep in debt. More so than any of us can ever understand.
The financing for these wars and the tax cuts comes from taking money away from schools and health care and places that really need it. How does that make this country stronger? It doesn't.
America is also reviled around the world. In September of 2001, the world felt remorse for what had happened to America. But those feelings are long gone.
Every one of us is newly threatened by N. Korea and Iran (the majority of the "Axis of Evil") going nuclear. They would not be any closer to nukes than they were in 2000, if not for the invasion of Iraq.
Could this nation be any more divided at home? I consider Bush voters and supporters to be dimwits of the highest order. And they think likewise about me, I'm sure.

And so, in short, we're screwed. And, like my neighbor's shredded flag, there isn't a way to make it whole again. It can (and most likely will) get even worse than it already is, but only a fool would think these things can turn themselves around.

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