Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Comparing the Middle East to Vietnam is soooo 2005

This is one of those posts that was more relevant a month ago, but tonight I'm stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do - so it gets addressed today. Enjoy:

Much was made last month as our engagement in Afghanistan marked quote 'the longest war in American history.' I'm not sure how I feel about this. The stat itself assumes an entry of 1963 and withdrawal in 1973 (we were actually there longer) from Vietnam. What's bigger is that over 5 million people died during this conflict. Afghanistan doesn't even come close in terms of blood and treasure, and we've yet to place boots on the ground as long as they were in Indochina; deeming the two fit to compare isn't a measure I'm ready to take.

I worry making the time comparison alone without context does a disservice to our understanding of history and political realities. Additionally, the fact that everyone from John McCain to David Gregory calls Afghanistan the longest war in U.S. history furthers the myth that a war is a war if you call it a war. (Similarly, a war isn't a war if you don't call it one.) So let's start calling Afghanistan missionary work or something, our involvement in Indochina remaining the longest recognized war in U.S. history.

We also need a single definition when we use the word war. If you want to say war is a situation where U.S. troops are deployed and suffer military engagements, that's fine. Call the measures in Afghanistan a war, even though there is no country or leader to fight (various factions lead by tribal warlords notwithstanding). But by this definition, we had a century of warfare whilst cleansing the country of Native Americans. Our War Against Savages (WAS) was ten times longer than the Afghan War. The War on Drugs continues with no immediate end in sight. And yes, Americans have paid for excursions into foreign lands while prosecuting the War on Drugs. We paid more during WAS though.

To quench your thirst for a bigger dose of Vietnam War history, statistics for U.S. soldiers: 536,000 deployed. Over 10% KIA, over 50% injured - and these numbers don't come close to the civilian and military losses experienced by Cambodia, Northern, and Southern Vietnam. So call the nation-building in Afghanistan a war, but you disrespect the 5 million that perished in Indochina by glossing over 20% of the past century in throwing around the headline 'longest war in U.S. history' while failing to furnish context because it sounds catchy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sexy Time

If I'm a sex ed teacher and a rational actor, I press strongly for my school to adopt an abstinence-only program. This was particularly true during the Bush years, when millions of tax dollars where given to schools willing to adopt such a curriculum. Either way, rational actors do what is most likely to keep them in a job. This means maximizing the number of children entering the school system, so that demand for your job is high. And this means abstinence-only education programs. Boom!

Monday, August 16, 2010

To Protect Freedom, We Must Destroy It

Opposition to the Islamic community center (minaret-less mosque?) within walking distance of Ground Zero is one of the most important stances that we as Americans can take to ensure our safety. Understanding that in 2001 we were attacked because 'they hate our freedoms' ('they' being Muslims, who are inherently terroristic in nature), the best way to dissuade future attacks is to limit freedom of religion, affiliation, and organization. And nothing can better prove our country's commitment to limiting the freedoms of its citizenry than a systematic dismemberment of the 1st amendment. Please stop this construction, for the sake of our safety and the safety of our troops overseas. Pray that the lawsuit to block its development is successful.

In September I'm moving to New York, while Marya is headed to DC. Tuesday night's news covered a story on a koran-burning to protest the new mosque development. News stories like this are fun - they allow for unique debates such as 'who's newly adopted residence faces the greater terrorist threat increase due to such acts of jingoism and bigotry?'

What is it with Christians buying books to burn anyway? It's like a vegetarian buying meat to burn - you got your market signals totally bass ackwards. Similar to book burnings, my veggie scenario also has a name. It's called BBQ, and is best accompanied by football and Keystone Light. Yes folks, it's August, and football season is upon us. Praise be to Bill Snyder.