Those who know me well know that I'm unsettlingly enthralled by old American war propaganda. I don't know what happened to my "Loose Lips Sink Ships" t-shirt, but I do know I miss it. Not only do I find it visually appealing and quaint but it quickly communicates an awful lot about how much we've changed as a nation.
While it's dangerous to read too much into mass cultural phenomena, feel free to browse around an excellent archive like Northwestern's online library of WWII posters and try to imagine a contemporary equivalent. I am certainly no less than the 10,000th person to mention this, but is it possible to overstate the extent to which the concept of "sacrifice" has been completely eliminated from the neocon war mentality? Honest to God, sit back and try to picture a commercial in which the government asks Hannity's listeners to drive less. Or eat less. Or work 16 hours per day. It's incomprehensible from two perspectives: we can conceive of neither a government that would do it nor a population that would accept it.
The idea that the white middle class will not be asked to make the slightest sacrifice is the foundation of selling neocon war to the public. They don't need to sacrifice life or limb (we have plenty of poor people, black people, and poor black people for that) and they certainly don't need to make any lifestyle changes. In fact, we encourage them to keep buying new Chevy Tahoes; consumer debt-fueled purchasing makes the piper play! So far from asking the public to make sacrifices, we take great pains to emphasize that they can keep living the most wasteful and inefficient lifestyle in recorded history. Eat crap, live 2 hours away from work without public transit, drive land barges, buy disposable everything….remember, you're an AMERICAN. Profligate consumption is your birthright.
After all, it's not like this war is costing us $275 million per day. So how has Our Leader managed to avoid even the slightest hint of asking his loyal drones to make sacrifices for this phenomenally expensive joyride? Why, the same way people like him "rationalize" their way out of everything: the Market will pay for it. See, we'll just spend far, far into the red today and in the future our economy will be such an unstoppable force that it will pay for the war many times over (as long as we don't chicken out and let those tax cuts expire! And let's make sure we stay on Congress about that AMT!) This lame cop-out is to political debate what "It was all just a dream!" is to fiction writing. It is the laziest, most baseless statement of magical faith short of "Jesus will save us." The past seven years have seen an explosion of this type of "logic." The stock market is going to save Social Security. Tax cuts will give everyone healthcare. Casinos will fund our schools. Outsourcing will create job growth. Name any dilemma and rest well assured that some Market Fantasy – erectile dysfunction aids for Libertarians, in essence – will fix it. I don't suppose it would make the slightest sense to expect a war to be treated any differently. Just sit back and amuse yourself with the image of how your favorite member of the I Love the War, As You Can Tell By the Number of Yellow Ribbons On My Explorer crowd would react if Our Leader told them they had to start rationing meat and carpooling.
Feel free to amuse me with your best guesses. I'm thinking it would look something like a hybrid of a John Birch Society meeting and that scene in Scanners where the dude's head explodes.