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War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaningby Chris Hedges
When I returned to New York following the Gulf War I was struck by how the country had changed in the three months I had been away. War had become fashionable. The ghosts of Vietnam had been vanquished. War was a great video arcade game. It was fun. It has been ever since.
All of America's wars in the 1990s, with the exception of Somalia, where we scurried away, have been relatively cost-free. As if wars can ultimately remain cost-free. By the time the war in Afghanistan rolled around, we were conditioned to embrace the myth of war. And yet if human history is any guide, nations and imperiums have always faltered and stumbled and even fallen when they believed the myths peddled about war and about themselves.
I have spent most of my life in war. I have great admiration for the good qualities, and there are good qualities, of the professional warrior. But I fear that we are losing touch with ourselves, with our role in the world and with the danger such enthusiasm for war ultimately brings to our nation. I wanted to expose the old lie about the glory of war. I wanted to lay bare war's contagion. And I wanted to do it now as we enter a new and volatile moment in our history, one where introspection is so necessary and so lacking.
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Culture Wars