MATTERS OF PERSPECTIVE

There is a group of historical figures – Mark Twain, Einstein, Ben Franklin, and Winston Churchill come to mind – to whom so many quotes and anecdotes are attributed that it's difficult to separate the real from the incorrectly sourced from the apocryphal. With Abraham Lincoln, impossible is a better term than difficult. So many pieces of folksy wisdom are attributed to Honest Abe that he would have had to devote hours per day to clever sayings to concoct all of them. One of my favorite supposed-Lincoln anecdotes involves a dispatch he received from one of his generals after a brief engagement with Confederate forces in Kentucky. The telegram reported, "Good news, (name of town) taken, only 12 casualties." Lincoln's supposed reply was, "Not good news for the 12."

As the "official" American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to wind down, the casualties (U.S. or otherwise) drift even further from public consciousness. The fact that the wars have been ongoing for more than a decade certainly doesn't help, given the attention span of our media and the general public. As of this Memorial Day, the total number of U.S. fatalities in Afghanistan in 2013 is 53. Comparatively – nearly 4500 died in Iraq and 2227 have died so far in Afghanistan – it is tempting to look at this year as good news. And it is, in some sense. But it's not good news for those 53, their families, and everyone who knew them.

Whether or not the war is going well in the larger sense, there is no good news for Spc. Mitchell Daehling, 24, of Dalton, MA. He died on May 14, 2013 in Sanjaray Zhari, Kandahar when an improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle he occupied with Spc. William Gilbert and Sgt. Jeffrey Baker, both of whom also died. Nothing that has happened in Afghanistan lately counts as good news for Spc. Daehling's widow, parents, siblings, and friends. There is no happy ending for them.

I do this annually on Memorial Day, and I always point out that the odds are overwhelmingly against any of us knowing the people whose names make up these casualty reports personally. I do not know Spc. Mitchell Daehling, and you don't either. We know nothing about him – whether he was a great guy or a jerk, whether he was funny or serious, whether he liked Coke or Pepsi. What we do know is that he is no longer alive. His death has an immediate cause that we readily understand – improvised explosives are a common hazard in this war, and he had the misfortune of being near one when it exploded. That should not stop us from remembering the less proximate causes – the political, economic, and social factors that combined to place him in Kandahar Province on May 14, 2013.

Memorial Day should be our annual reminder that the decisions our elected officials make and the knee-jerk reactions among the public have real consequences. The consequence, every time we commit ourselves to go to war, is that people who would otherwise be alive will end up dead. The costs of war are abstract for most of us, but very real for Mitchell Daehling and his loved ones. We hear a lot of florid talk on Memorial Day about honoring and remembering sacrifices. In my view, we honor their sacrifices best by remembering the chain of events and decisions that led to them.

Be Sociable, Share!

31 Responses to “MATTERS OF PERSPECTIVE”

  1. Arslan Says:

    Just a little update on what the army's up to lately.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/22/other_than_honorable_army_strips_benefits

  2. LK Says:

    A comment on "how it's done elsewhere". I'm from Israel, and there are two points I would like to make (and possibly inform some who didn't know this). In Israel, Memorial Day is the day immediately preceding our Independence Day (in late April or early May, since it follows the Jewish calendar). In many places (including the official state ceremony) they are marked together, at the same place and time, a combined ceremony-come-celebration.
    Second, Israel is much smaller than the US, and our social networks are denser (Israelis have, on average, more friends and connections with more family than Americans). While the chances are low that you will know any specific casualty, practically everyone has a friend, relative or school/work acquaintance that was killed in a war and/or a terror attack. It certainly gives you perspective.

  3. Southern Beale Says:

    "…to whom so many quotes and anecdotes are attributed that it's difficult to separate the real from the incorrectly sourced from the apocryphal…."

    I once did a blog post called "Shakespeare, the Bible, or Ben Franklin?" after a right-winger once told me that "the Bible says the Lord helps those that helps themselves." Er, no. It occurred to me those three sources are quoted so interchangeably that most people who supposedly should know better have no idea which are the "sacred word of God" and which are not.

  4. Southern Beale Says:

    Memorial Day should be our annual reminder that the decisions our elected officials make and the knee-jerk reactions among the public have real consequences…

    But that would require us to look at these adventures in militarism with something of a skeptic's eye, and that can't happen because SUPPORT THE TROOPS and CLAP LOUDER blahbeddy blah.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    Reinstate the draft.
    Reinstate it with NO exemptions.

    Physically unfit for duty? Ok, well try to find something for you to do, that you CAN do.
    Even (now Uber-Patriot) Ted Nugent, who claimed he was a psycho, and so avoided the Vietnam War, could have played his guitar to entertain the troops – especially near the front lines, where the soldiers would really would have appreciated some form of relief through entertainment.
    Former VP Dick Cheney? He of the 6 exemptions?
    Back during the Vietnam Era, the military could have used someone who knew evil on a first name basis. He could have been involved with propaganda. But not at home. He should have been placed near the villages the Viet Cong controlled, trying to get the villagers there to come to "our side."

    Our all-volunteer military was created because of the completely unnecessary war in Vietnam, and the protests against it.

    This way, with an "All-volunteer Military," when volunteer soldiers die, the PTB (Powers-that-be) can say, "Well, that was a choice s/he made. We didn't make them go. We thank them for their duty, and their service. Our condolences to the family and friends" – and promptly walk away, without feeling like they have any blood on their hands.

    And the same PTB then rig the economic and education systems, so that, faced with either low-paid work, and/or an expensive education and years of debt, a certain number of young people feel it necessary to volunteer for our military – in large part, for the education benefits.

    Right now, despite the millions of military personnel who've been in Afghanistan and Iraq, too few of our citizens have cold or burned "skin in the game."
    Medical and technological advances kept our dead and wounded to a minimum.

    If we had a draft, then the political pressure would be on the politicians and military leaders who want to go to war.

    We would only go to war, not when it was politically desirable, or expedient, but when it was necessary.

    And while Korea and Vietnam took place in the era of a military draft, the PTB had to sell "The Domino Theory."
    And so, after WWII, they sold the latter part of the generation who missed that war, and most of them willingly went to Korea, a completely unnecessary war, silently, feeling that they were doing the same duty the older members of their generation did.

    And the children of that generation felt, at least at first, a duty to go to Vietnam, like their parents who went to Europe and Asia in WWII, and Korea, right afterwards. They, too, were sold "The Domino Theory."

    It was only after kids and their parents realized that Vietnam was an un-winnable teenage/young-adult meat-grinder, that more and more people started to protest.
    And, the DFH-era was born – which we're still paying for.
    We are still fighting the culture and real wars of the 1960's – Civil Rights, The Cold War, Vietnam, and Women's Rights.

    Reinstate the draft. With no exemptions. This way, EVERYONE has some skin in the game.
    Grenada, Gulf War I, Afghanistan, and Gulf War II, would have been a lot tougher sell for the politicians and military leaders, if they, and EVERYONE, knew that their children and/or grandchildren would have a "Call To Duty."
    Hell, if it's a really important war, take a 55 year-old crippled geezer like me, and draft me.
    If the war's THAT important, there's got to be SOMETHING useful I can do to contribute.
    And the same goes for Ted Nugent, and Dick Cheney, right now.

    The problem is, no war since WWII was THAT important.
    And trying to sell wars is a lot tougher if you have to sell it to people who don't automatically feel that joining in the effort is their patriotic duty, or the ones who do so purely out of economic necessity.

    So, go ahead, politicians and military leaders, this upcoming war is necessary?
    OK. Then try to sell possible death, dismemberment, PTSD, and a life's worth of physical and mental scars, to the WHOLE nation.
    Shit, if it's THAT important, then it should be an easy sell.

  6. Xynzee Says:

    @Southern: Shakespeare? You mean Sirach don't you? ;) My understanding is that his audience at the time would have known the source. So Polonius' fatherly wisdom would have been easily recognisable.
    A link to that post would be great.

    Sadly statements of "To our glorious dead" have been reinterpreted to mean that "glory" (read a hollow form of fame) can be found on a battle field. Rather than the kind that involves going to meet one's Maker. There's a curious form of pathology in that.

    You had to know the US was completely and utterly F###'d when they made some wannabe career policy dork SD. So you have the man who literally wrote the book on how the US was to engage in conflict v. some arsesucker representing oil and other interests calling the shots.

    Australia and NZ's big phrase for Anzac Day is "Lest we forget". Which works on a number of levels. Which up until Bonsai, made Australians and Kiwis a little less gungho about getting involved in fights that do not concern us. Those that are sent tend to have far better training than your average US soldier. The average Digger in Vietnam had a full year of training before being sent to combat.

  7. Big Sister Says:

    Dulce et Decorum Est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

    GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

  8. KLB Says:

    I know a woman whose son was killed in Iraq. We worked together, didn't really associate, I'm liberal Dem, she's conservative Rep, worked in different depts, different friends.
    Her son was just short of being the 1000th fatality and I remember being greatful he wasn't #1000 because a big deal was made of that young man at the time. His death had a profound effect on all of us at work (200+ people). She wasn't allowed to see the body due to his injuries and she struggled with closure. We all did. She shunned the media, they all wanted to talk to the family and she wanted no part of the circus. All the state politicians wanted to attend the funeral and she told them all to stay away.
    At the time of notification the officer handed her a check, the first of the death benefit payments. That's how they did it. "We're sorry your son is dead, here's some money." He wasn't married so the death benefits went to her. In the years since, the comments behind her back are sometimes cruel. She ended up buying a better house. Not a fabulous house, just not as leaky and old. She bought a new car. People said "How can she drive that blood money!"
    Her son wasn't a bad kid, just a little wild and had no direction. She had encouraged him to join the Army because she thought he may end up in jail otherwise. The guilt was unbearable.
    She's still very "patriotic", wears red on Fridays to "support the troops" (I have no idea where that comes from) and believes very strongly in the "mission" of our wars because otherwise he died for no reason. She and I became friends, we agree to disagree on a lot of topics. My heart breaks for her and all the other families. Not just the dead, but all the horribly maimed soldiers who come home and dramatically alter their families lives and prospects (we work in health care).
    I believe that anytime a politician suggests or votes to go to war, he and his family go to the front of the line to volunteer for service. That's how the founders did it.

  9. bb in GA Says:

    As of May 2009 here is our breakdown:

    Army 548K
    Marines 203K
    Navy 332K
    USAF 323K
    USCG 41K

    Active 1.4 million

    Army NG 403K
    Army Res 205K
    Marine Res 40K
    Navy Res 67K
    Air Guard 107K
    Air F Res 67K
    CG Res 11K

    Reserves 900K

    The Army’s active enlisted ranks are 456K.

    Very few draftees in the modern era have gone into any branch except the Army and with the exception of Medical Docs (Alan Alda’s resisting Capt. Pierce) only enlisted men have been the subject of the Draft. Marine draftees existed in WW2, Korea, and VN, but the Marines Brass hated it.

    If that tradition is followed then we have a need for just over 1 million men (Army enlisted, NG, and Reserve) who could be draftees. Again traditionally in the modern era the Draftee/Total ratio has been under 50% (25 – 40% range, Vietnam was 24%)

    Right now, I have seen no big blow on the Services missing their enlistment quotas.

    Since we don’t “need” the draftees right now, what would you propose? Can you, in good conscience, draft someone who bumps a volunteer? I don’t think you want to expand the army (in all in its phases) by 400K essentially doubling the enlisted ranks do you?

    So, in a country 300+ million people do you believe that a two year draft of a high-side estimate of 400,000 men per year (after the first two year round) will have a significant effect on the “conversation.”??

    How we get there is another issue. If you start replacing existing personnel by attrition, how long will it take for the draftee contingent to fully populate (40%) the ranks?

    //bb

  10. quixote Says:

    I usually hurry past the maudlin Memorial Day posts, but I read this one. The only necessary and appropropriate Memorial Day post needed.

    And I strongly second KLB: those who vote for war should themselves be volunteering for the front lines. Thinking about the interconnections would be automatic then.

  11. c u n d gulag Says:

    KLB,
    Even going back just 70 years ago, back to WWII, FDR's and Kennedy's sons served. A lot, if not all, of rich and powerful people in the US had family members in the military. Members of the British Royalty served – and their children with them. Hell, even in the USSR, Stalin's son served.

    Since then, no war has been important enough for our Galtian Overlord's children or grandchildren to serve.
    Which means, that no war since WWII has been worth our involvement – except, maybe, as part of a UN Peace-keeping force.

    The wealthy, and their corporations, can't be expected to serve in wars that only benefit corporations – like oil, financial, and media corporations. That's what poor "plebes" and/or their children are for.
    Korea, Vietnam, and Grenada, were wars for Capitalist hegemony, against the Communist idea (at least in theory) of shared resources and assets.

    Gulf War's I & II, were waged purely to allow the oil companies the resources necessary to continue to provide the executives and shareholders with a steady stream of assets.
    That, and W had to prove that his pecker was bigger and harder than his Daddies.

    And Afghanistan might only have been worth it, if we went in and tried to do a "Marshall Plan" – and be willing to spend a trillion or so dollars, not on death and destruction, but on building that country up, into at least the beginning of the 20th Century, if not the 21st.

    Imo – here are the only "necessary" wars this country has ever fought:
    – The Revolutionary War
    – The War of 1812
    – The Civil War
    – And WWII.

    All of the rest were either expansionary wars, wars to demonstrate America's "Exceptionalism" and power, or military actions/wars for the benefit of corporations, and Capitalism.

    If our PTB were truly afraid of a Muslim "Global Jihad," then we would have seen them volunteer themselves, their children, their grandchildren, and their assets – via higher taxes due to a life-or-death war – to the effort.
    Instead, W cut taxes.
    That, said it all.
    And, it continues to say it all.

    My condolences on the death of your friend's son.
    And, sadly, he did die in vain – unless your friend, and the rest of us, considers oil company profits to be worth dying for.

    Then, if that were the case, if we were to say to her, "we thank him for his 'service,' and your and his 'sacrifice.," we could really mean it.

    Otherwise, saying that is just a meaningless platitude we're supposed to utter to make the grieving friends and family members feel better, for their loved one(s) having been sacrificial fodder for corporate cannons – and the Galtian Overlords who aim them, and are only too happy to light the fuse.
    And why not?
    In all wars, there are profits to be made.
    And, if you have no "skin in the game," then those profits come at no cost to you.
    Those profits will roll-in on the investments of other's skin – and bones, and sight, and hearing, and limbs, and minds.

  12. Dave Dell Says:

    So many good, readable, cogent comments to add to a good blog posting.

    Southern Beale – I have also observed this mish mash of "the bible says it". It's usually a mixture of dimly remembered Sunday School lessons, combined with popular notions of Dante's Inferno, Milton and SciFi/Horror movies.

    Here in Nebraska we have a State Senator, Ernie Chambers (yes, the Ernie Chambers that sued God) who calls out what he calls the "supposed christians" by quoting what he refers to as the "Holly Bibble". It makes watching the legislative sessions worthwhile.

    To those of you who think the draft is a good idea, I concur. I want my grand-daughter to have an equal chance to be put in harms way as the children of President Obama. I also want a war profits tax and a general raising of taxes combined with rationing. We need to cause pain to everyone if we're going to fight a war. Hopefully we'd think twice about doing it if it would hurt. The mere threat of being drafted during the 60's and early 70's was enough to engage a generation attention to the real questions of what America is and what it should be.

    Personally, I had to get on a waiting list to do a tour in Vietnam. Very different now. Many people have decided that Veterans don't deserve special treatment since it has become just a decently paid (by minimum wage standards) career choice.

  13. Major Kong Says:

    @Big Sister

    You beat me to it. Probably the best anti-war poem ever.

  14. Big dog Says:

    "We thank you for your service/sacrifice.." This is the social glue of language. It allows us to move on after performing an appropriate ritual. Other than that it it meaningless…kind of like crossing yourself when leaving the dead.

  15. Major Kong Says:

    @bb

    Instead of a draft I'd propose a war tax, heavily weighted to the top brackets of course. Since conservatives think everyone should have "skin in the game".

  16. Bernard Says:

    The military is now the relief valve for a bad economy. people join to get a step up into a better life or away from a dying city or town. Red American's way out of a hopeless future.

    The military will never have a draft, NEVER. the Rich will be sure to bring out the DFH propaganda the Right won the culture wars with. with the Military Congressional Complex running things, we can look forward to more waste of money and human life.

    does anyone actually think American life is worth saving? Not a single Leader acts that way. Has either the Republican or Democratic party Leader /members ever stopped a war for the Rich and Powerful? not in my lifetime. and with the stupid and mindless propaganda, like Lee Greenwood's Nazi-like anthem to ignorance and hubris still being played on the radio, i see the warlike pride still undergirding the "American Way". proud to be an American? oh please!! when we start valuing humans who come back from our Patricians' War Games, then i'll think otherwise.

    the hypocrisy of the American Way (Wars for Profit) and the ruthless destruction of American lives', families, society et al, speaks louder than anything i have seen or heard. since St. Reagan's masterful "i don't remember" over Iran Contra and his band of Thieves, there has been no value on human lives.

    we are all and have been cannon fodder for the Rich. we pay, one way or the other, for their Evil Greed and Hubris. like said upthread, when we have a draft and tax the Rich for these wars, than and maybe then the wars for Greed will stop. otherwise, we have all kinds of ways to dismiss, diverst and disguise what the true costs of the American Way are via our Dept of WAR/Defense.

    like asking me at the checkout counter if i want to support our troops?!! as if my taxes don't pay for our troops' funding. which by the way, our troops have to pay for their own military clothing and shoes and other personal items, you'd think the bloated 1 trillion we pay out every year in the WAR Dept would pay for these items. but no… obviously, our Defense/War Dept can spend money on defense contractors,arms, bullets and drones, but can't find the money or wont spend money on furnishing the needs of our "veterans" who die for them. Amazing greed and hubris within the WAR Dept. My nephew in the Army tells me how the WAR Dept works or how it doesn't work. otherwise, i'd never know how even in the Military wastes our taxes, yet the troops are kept poor by design. But fight and die for America anyway! The American Way!!!

    Proud to be an American???? what drivel. as Oscar Wilde said, Patriotism is the last defense of scoundrels! also their way to get rich and shut up the ignorant masses. lol At least i know i'm free! Free to pay taxes to support the mindless killing and maiming of Americans and freee to pay for the killing of those "evil" brown people who are living ontop of our OIL!!!

    America! Don't you just love it???? Memorial Day indeed!

  17. bb in GA Says:

    @major kong

    Am I misunderstanding your comment? Are you implying most high income earners (unless you mean a wealth tax too) are conservative? I thought the numbers shook out that most of the really high dollar people went with Mr. Obama in '08 and again in '12. Am I wrong on that?

    //bb

  18. xynzee Says:

    @Big Sister: As I suck at Latin I had to look that up and found this:

    "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, sed dulcius pro patria vivere, et dulcissimum pro patria bibere. Ergo, bibamus pro salute patriae."

    "It is sweet and dignified to die for the homeland, but it is sweeter to live for the homeland, and the sweetest to drink for it. Therefore, let us drink to the health of the homeland."

  19. Southern Beale Says:

    I think I knew we were seriously fucked as a country when "support the troops" was interpreted to mean "support the war, no questions asked, and by all means don't look under that rock," instead of, "let's make sure we're sending them into harm's way for a good reason, and let's make sure we take damn good care of them when we get home."

    This country has gone completely bonkers and it started well before 9/11. I think I'm going to have to read that new George Packer book to find out what's happened, but I'm afraid it's going to make me want to guzzle anti-freeze.

  20. Doctor Rock Says:

    @ KLB How can anyone dislike that poor woman so much? It seems obvious that a loved one dying would make one double down or at least make it much harder to ever accept that Iraq was a needless war.

  21. c u n d gulag Says:

    Southern Beale,
    It all started when the ink from LBJ's signature dried, on the first Civil Rights Act.
    All of our culture wars, are cover for the PTB's efforts to eliminate the middle class, because people were too comfortable in the 60's, and started wondering why everyone wasn't as comfortable -blacks, and women, for instance.
    And they could see all of that unfairness on the TV's in their living rooms on the evening news.

    Take a look at what's happening in NC right now, that they have a Republican Governor and State Legislature. They're trying to suppress the right for certain people to vote, and to keep women from having a choice.

    And, it bad enough on a state by state level, but we can't let Republicans, as the party is currently 'constituted,' to win, and have the Presidency, and both houses of Congress.

    Because, if the DO win in the near future, THIS time, they'll finish the job that Nixon started, Reagan continued, Bush I advanced, and Bush II took to a new level – to destroy the middle class, so that people are too worried about themselves and their families, to give two shit's about anyone else's problems.
    "-Can't vote, Nigrah's? Sucks to be you!
    -Don't a "choice," chickie-pooh's? Sucks to be you!
    -You're unemployed? Sucks to be you!
    -You and your kids hungry/homeless? Sucks to be you! There's a dumpster over there. Or, you can find a job or two, or three, or four, or five.
    -Can't find a job? See above.
    We have our own problems we have to deal with.
    You deal with yours, and leave us the hell out of them.
    Go and die, for all we care. Just do it quietly."

    And, THAT, is the America Conservatives dream of.
    A land where the "Have's" will have it all, and the "Have-not's," won't 'have' anything at all.

    And their chants of "Freedom," and "Liberty," come down to this:
    The fact that the only dream they really want fulfilled, is the dream where they can have the 'freedom' to end the 'liberty' of any, and every, one who disagrees with them.

    Be afraid.
    Be very, very, afraid.

  22. Southern Beale Says:

    c u n d gulag:

    Without a permanent underclass, who will do all the laundry? And child care? And mow the lawns? Etc. etc.

    Have to say, a lot of folks really want to return us to the days of Downton Abbey, where a life "in service" — serving your betters — was respectable. Everyone knew their place, and no one dared try to move beyond it. It certainly worked well for the plutocrats, didn't it?

    Whenever I hear the words "service economy" I'm tempted to see that as code for "servant class." It's hard not to when you realize what that means at its core: some poor slob gets to do massage therapy or teach pilates to a Wall Street banker's wife. Or be a nanny in the Hamptons for the summer. Oh, goodie. Can't wait. Remember that Hamptons fundraiser for Romney that made the papers? How the wives said the "nails ladies" just didn't understand how things were supposed to work? Yeah, pretty sure the nails ladies understood just fine, thank you. That's why Romney was shown the door.

    I don't think people necessarily mind doing the shit work, as long as the door is slammed shut on their dreams — be it for themselves or their kids. Don't tell me being a "nails lady" is my daughter's best hope, cuz I'm pretty sure she wants to be a nuclear engineer, assholes.

    You know, in the '60s we had that nice middle class, and there was enough money for the whites to hire the blacks and Hispanics to do the grunt work while Mom and Dad were at the club. Too bad the browns felt like they deserved a piece of that pie, too, right? /sarcasm.

    I fucking hate the hypocrisy, I really do.

  23. Southern Beale Says:

    Er, as long as the door ISN'T slammed shut on their dreams …

    Yeesh. Sorry.

  24. Major Kong Says:

    @bb

    Not sure what you mean there. Are you saying the Kochs, Scaifes, Olins, Bradleys, Coors, Waltons etc. all went for Obama?

    Or did you just mean Hollywood?

    Sure there are plenty of liberal actors but the Walton family could hire them to entertain at their grandkid's birthday party.

  25. c u n d gulag Says:

    Southern Beale,
    Yes. Good addition to what my word-turds, above said.
    And, btw – I'm going to incorporate that, in my future rants.

  26. Davis X. Machina Says:

    The War of 1812 wasn't actually necessary. The ship with the news that the Orders in Council that were the major proximate cause of the war had been repealed was in transit on the North Atlantic when Congress voted to declare war, on a party-line vote.

  27. c u n d gulag Says:

    Thanks, Davis.
    So, that leaves three "necessary" wars.

    Actually, I almost put in the qualifier, "and maybe not The War of 1812," but I forget the reason why.

  28. bb in GA Says:

    @major kong

    These kind of Obama supporting super rich…

    "The group United for a Fair Economy organized a project called Responsible Wealth, which includes prominent Americans such as Warren Buffett, George Soros, Robert Rubin and Abigail Disney. The group is calling for the implementation of a Responsible Estate Tax proposal that would raise new revenue while spurring (sic //bb) deep and damaging budget cuts."

    I think they meant 'spurning"

    //bb

  29. Major Kong Says:

    @bb

    Good. Tax them too. They shouldn't mind.

    If our military policy is truly "defending the country" then they've got a lot more to lose if something happens to it.

  30. Xynzee Says:

    @CU and SB: things would have been far far better if some of the Founding Fathers hadn't believed it was their right they could own another human being in the first place.

    War of 1812 was sadly the direct result of Wilberforce's anti-slave trade act 1807. Many English slavers flew an American flag at the time, and part of the Act's selling point was to prevent goods being sold to the French and Napoleon's rising military efforts.

    There. That now reduces the list to two. The first was still about the PTB wanting to line their own pockets and not paying for essential services ie naval escort to protect their goods from piracy as they were shipped to Europe.

  31. j Says:

    Not on topic, but is this the fellow commenter J. Dryden?

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130525/news/705259921/

    Based on the article it seems like something he would do. If so, Ed please rally to his support!