It is a brutal fact that no country benefited more from war during in the 2oth Century than the United States. World War I enriched and invigorated the US economy, and the self destruction of the 19th Century European state system left the US as the world’s mightiest industrial power. World War II ended the Great Depression, put the US on a pathway to unparalleled world military power, and set the stage a long economic boom that created a rich middle class that, not withstanding its recent hardening of the arteries, remains unprecedented in world history. Pearl Harbour excepted, neither war visited any significant destruction on the American homeland.
While we think of war in terms of our sacrifices, it may surprise readers to learn that the United States suffered fewer military deaths in WWII than Yugoslavia, an allied country not usually thought of in the NASCAR mentality of the United States as being a major player that war. In fact, hundreds of millions of people — mostly civilians — died in the wars (and their aftermath) of the 20th Century, while the United States in comparison paid a relatively minor price in lives lost and a vanishingly small price in terms of material destruction wrought at home.
Indeed the most traumatic material destruction and highest number of civilian deaths suffered on the US mainland since the dawn of the unprecedented state violence of the 20th Century were caused by the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September of 2001 (the nearby NYSE was closed for only a week and the Pentagon never shut down). While horrific and psychologically devastating in themselves, these attacks were a horrendous crime, not an act of war.
Moreover, when viewed in the grand sweep of the preceding 100 years, the material and human destruction of 9-11 was pinprick compared to that visited on the trenches in Flanders, the Somme, and Verdun, the cities of Nanking and Warsaw, London and Coventry, Hamburg and Berlin and Dresden, Leningrad and Stalingrad and Minsk, or in the fire bombing raids on Tokyo, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the now forgotten destruction of every city in North Korea, of millions of civilians killed by bombing (and sanctions) in North Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Even casual readers of history know this summary just scratches the surface of carnage wrought by 20 Century warfare — carnage which, by the grace of good fortune, pretty much bypassed the people and land of the United States. Perhaps some American even think this good fortune is a kind of entitlement. Is it not surprising that President Bush’s call on the American people to keep consuming and living the good life when he asked Congress to authorize a global war of terror in our national response to the crime of 9-11 was so well received?
None of these facts denigrates the bravery and sacrifice of the American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who fought and died in the wars of the last 100 years, but they are facts nevertheless, and they provide a backdrop against which the strength our national character is measured by others.
Nor should we be surprised, given this history of good fortune, that many leaders and opinion makers in America, especially strategic wannabees like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina or the armchair strategists in the Heritage Foundation (which receives a lot of grant money from arms merchants who benefit from war), treat war as a cavalier endeavor. Nothing typifies this cavalier attitude so much today as the loose talk about bombing Iran’s nuclear reactors (unless it be an intervention in Syria). The attached essay puts this kind of warmongering talk into a perspective appropriate to those who, unlike most Americans during the 20th Century, would be on the receiving end of such an attack.
Bombing Iran’’s Nuclear Facilities Would Leave the Entire Gulf States Region Virtually Uninhabitable
By Wade Stone
Global Research, May 11, 2013
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