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There's a time for war and time for not war.  War should be the last resort.  But.....there is purpose for war some times.  I'm neither in love with war nor am totally against it.  It's just simply a horrible necessity sometimes.

 

The generation that fought both world wars should not be diminished in stature for what they went through to defeat German and at the same time coming out of the greatest depression in our country's history and I guess I have a problem with a graphic that tries to diminish that.

Edited by BigRedBuster

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How does this graphic diminish the generation that fought in the World Wars?

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1 minute ago, knapplc said:

How does this graphic diminish the generation that fought in the World Wars?

I took it that way when it claimed we were in love with WWII and acted like we shouldn't admire that generation as much as we do.  Granted, I didn't read the entire thing because I got bored with it.

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I didn't read the entire thing, either. That's half a novel.

 

I took the part about being infatuated with the World Wars as not disrespecting those who fought, or the (necessary) reasons they fought, but more of a dig at our infantile reverence for war based on a mythical interpretation of those wars. 

 

Kind of an adult version of how I was when I was a kid, and the main toys I played with were Green Army Men. I'd set up intricate battles in the dirt in the yard, spend all day long fighting, making machine gun & explosion sounds, blowing stuff up. Good kid stuff. 

 

Then I got older and it became real that people who get shot, die.  Usually in great agony. So the tremendously unrealistic play I did with my Green Army Men was placed aside.

 

What I got from cruising through that graphic is, politicians and career upper-brass military, in conjunction with our military/industrial complex, have exploited our reverence for those wars and the people who fought in them for their own purposes. 

 

Maybe I read it wrong, but that's where I thought it was going.  But again - I didn't read it all.  Too long.

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Hey, I loved those green army men and my "Guns of Navarone" play mountain.  

 

It's a very complicated subject.  As a population, we have to be extremely careful how we proceed with any war while still honoring and respecting the people who we have sent to war in the past.  We have seen the ugly side of both situations.  

 

I thought the more important part of my original post was actually the first paragraph where I was disagreeing with the idea that war is good for "absolutely nothing".

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The kids down the street had the Guns of Navaronne set. I was SO jealous. They would hardly ever let us play with it.

 

The best toy I ever got was a 10-ton pile of fill dirt my dad had hauled in. He didn't get it spread around the yard for more than a year, and that was an army man mountain, Matchbox cars hill, dirt-bike jump hill, king of the mountain hill... all kinds of stuff.  When he did all the shovel work and wore it down to nothing I moped, so he got another truckload just so I could play on it. I think that thing sat there for a couple of years before we grew out of playing on it.

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13 minutes ago, knapplc said:

The kids down the street had the Guns of Navaronne set. I was SO jealous. They would hardly ever let us play with it.

 

The best toy I ever got was a 10-ton pile of fill dirt my dad had hauled in. He didn't get it spread around the yard for more than a year, and that was an army man mountain, Matchbox cars hill, dirt-bike jump hill, king of the mountain hill... all kinds of stuff.  When he did all the shovel work and wore it down to nothing I moped, so he got another truckload just so I could play on it. I think that thing sat there for a couple of years before we grew out of playing on it.

 

 

Ahhhh....fond memories.

 

My area like that was my sand box that was around a very large tree in the back yard.  It was probably 15' x 15' with a big tree in the middle.  I could build roads and rivers and lakes (with help from the garden hose). Heck, at one point, my friends and I even took old wood and built a fort/club house in that spot.

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3 hours ago, Comfortably Numb said:

Ha! I saw the thread title and came here to post exactly what you did in your first sentence.

 

;)

 

I was wondering if that'd be too silly, but then I thought it fit perfectly with the theme, being a Vietnam era protest song. One of the things this really made me think about is how depiction of war has changed over the years. A lot of grungey, pretty gloomy commentary that grew out of the Vietnam era to become part of our cultural firmament. I think there's a fair amount of this in contemporary literature/film too; a response to Iraq and the War on Terror. Then the valorizing stuff that seemed to dominate in between. I grew up on that, so I hadn't ever thought of it has a product of a particular time period. Astute observation.

 

And I mean, I actually really agree that the war against the Nazis is among the most obviously worthy things to valorize. Let's definitely not forget that Nazis are bad. OTOH, there's a way to depict it all, cleansed of any complexity, that serves the men who bang the gavel and gravely intone, "Soldiers gave you the freedoms we let the ungrateful louts abuse"...the eager warmongers who paint themselves as heirs to that generation and their traditions.

 

I grew up a lot more disdainful of pacifism than I am now. It wasn't just the 90s, it was the patriotic fervor of the 9/11 era and oh, man, was I so on board the invade Iraq train. I share knapp's sentiments now. You say it so well. So this is an examination I think is really valuable for us, culturally. It shouldn't be interpreted as something that diminishes anybody. The greatest honor we can do to the generation that gave their all to defeat the Nazis is to understand that war is a truly horrible thing, not to cast new Nazis (Iraq? Iran? North Korea?) for new generations of American heroes to die eradicating. 

Edited by zoogs

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Let's not pretend that war wasn't viewed as a valiant endeavor before WW1 and WW2.  You look at how war has been depicted literally throughout world history.  But, you can even look at how it has been depicted in our own history.  We have always honored wars like the Revolutionary war.  Men signed up voluntarily to fight the Civil War and then the Indian Wars and they were honored when they came back home with memorials or statues put up in their honor.  Kids were taught to respect those men and women involved in those conflicts from the beginning of our country.

 

Now, what has changed is the amount of media involved in it.  Obviously, there wasn't much during the Revolutionary War.  However, the large number of memorials and statues just from both sides of the Civil War around out country is a testament that these views of honoring and, to a certain extent, glorifying what these people did goes way back.  Now days, we have the internet, music, movies, TV shows, sporting events, 24 hour news networks...etc.

 

This is nothing new.  It's just that we have more ways people are bombarded with it now.

Edited by BigRedBuster

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Oh, I would certainly agree that glorifying war and then wielding that to sordid ends was not a Bush invention. I think the contrast is specifically about how we actually came away from WW2, how we came away from Vietnam...and how, after some time had passed, the old demon reared its head again. History is a bit of a constant, cyclical struggle to tamp down our ugliest impulses.

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You're both right. We've honored war/warriors and hero-worshiped them for millennia.  And that's fine - it represents an ideal, a perfection that we should all strive to.  It's like setting a goal. And there's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing at all wrong (and quite a bit right) with honoring those who serve our country.  We should. And we could probably all do more.

 

The danger, as zoogs points out, is that manipulators (politicians & people trying to make a buck) exploit that respect for their own gains, either using the heroes and our natural reverence for those who protect us to serve their own ends.  That's bad, and should be called out. 

 

 

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I agree our service members should be treated with the utmost respect and I think more needs to be done to provide better mental and physical care, wheb they return home . The PTSD, homelessness, and suicide rates of our vets are way too high.

My biggest beef though is with the wars we fight and the motivations behind them . I think We’ve gone from using our great military for defense of the country against direct threats , to being in way too many other countries business, and engaging in endless unwinnable  conflicts  . We are never going to know the true reason for our military presence in almost every country on earth (800 bases?) but it think many times we are told were fighting terrorism , and helping people when the real reasons ( at least partially )  are behind that smoke screen  . 

I think oil interests , military strongholds , money,  power, imperialism  etc are probably closer to the true motivators , and those are the wrong reasons to get our brave soldiers killed, and maimed . I also don’t think killing people in other countries, especially ones who didn’t ask us to be there  , will breed great love for us, and in some cases we create more terrorists than we eliminate . 

I think War, and US military presence should be used much more sparingly. Substituting negotiations ,  and diplomacy could  save many lives and billions of dollars that are needed here at home . 

Edited by Big Red 40

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I'm admittedly out of my depths in knowledge about all of this, but my general thoughts are...

 

 

A just war is a war fought for justice. How many wars have been fought for something just? The only one I can say with any kind of confidence is WWII, and even then, many of us (not the soldiers fighting the battles, but the nation states as represented by their governments) stood by for the majority of it while millions of Jews were being massacred, and only entered into the fray for reasons that at the very least included a quite high dose of self-interest (I'm trying to differentiate this from self defense but I can't figure out how to word it properly). 

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6 hours ago, Landlord said:

A just war is a war fought for justice. How many wars have been fought for something just? The only one I can say with any kind of confidence is WWII,

 

Really?

Revolutionary war was fought for our freedom from an over bearing England.

Civil War was fought against states who believed they had the freedom to keep slaves.

WWI was fought basically for the same reasons as WWII, a Germany that thought they could take over Europe.

I would even say the Afghan War right after 9/11 was started for the right reasons.  To go after a group that just attacked America and killed over 3,000 Americans.  I have no problem with us going in and kicking the Taliban's ass.....most after that I can do without.

 

 

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agreed . I supported the Afghanistan war believing its purpose was to capture or kill those responsible for 9/11. It turned into something else that I don’t support,  and I would love to it see ended ASAP . Other than that ,  I think the last justified war we fought was WW2. 

Edited by Big Red 40

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8 hours ago, Big Red 40 said:

I agree our service members should be treated with the utmost respect and I think more needs to be done to provide better mental and physical care, wheb they return home . The PTSD, homelessness, and suicide rates of our vets are way too high.

This. So much this.

 

If we really honored and respected our vets and what they've done on our behalf, then we would never even talk about needed to provide them with more or better care.

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Maybe if we weren't in the middle east in the 90's, 9/11 never happens. I tend to think the entire reason alot of places in the middle east "hate america" is because we went in there with our big bravado and Christian culture and basically told people who have been living one way for thousands of years that that is wrong and we are here to fix it. People don't take to kindly to being attacked and having your culture attacked simultaniously. Imagine if a foreign military from a very different culture was essentially occupying our country trying to change it and save us from say  Trumps leadership. Some people would welcome that, but there would be a large group of people fightin' mad without a doubt. 

Edited by Nebfanatic

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I don't know if waging a war against England for being "overbearing" is the best example of justice, actually. I think there were positive outcomes, but those on the receiving end of the injustices of colonialism were not the English settlers. 

 

Even wars of justice should be remembered for the horrors that came with, not scrubbed of their moral complexity. I think the Civil War often is, whereas Dresden and Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki are...more and more glossed over. We've been talking about Tolkien recently and how his work grew out of fighting or living through both World Wars. I think the philosophy of LOTR and its treatment of war and evil is resonant, and it's a really different tone compared with how WW2 has been portrayed more recently. 

 

To connect LOTR with the comic again, think about the contrasting lessons of a protagonist sparing an adversary. Frodo sparing Gollum (for that matter, Harry Potter sparing Pettigrew) and Upham's humanity towards the German soldier. 

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2 minutes ago, zoogs said:

I don't know if waging a war against England for being "overbearing" is the best example of justice, actually. I think there were positive outcomes, but those on the receiving end of the injustices of colonialism were not the English settlers. 

 

Even wars of justice should be remembered for the horrors that came with, not scrubbed of their moral complexity. I think the Civil War often is, whereas Dresden and Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki are...more and more glossed over. We've been talking about Tolkien recently and how his work grew out of fighting or living through both World Wars. I think the philosophy of LOTR and its treatment of war and evil is resonant, and it's a really different tone compared with how WW2 has been portrayed more recently. 

 

To connect LOTR with the comic again, think about the contrasting lessons of a protagonist sparing an adversary. Frodo sparing Gollum (for that matter, Harry Potter sparing Pettigrew) and Upham's humanity towards the German soldier. 

 

I didn't gloss over any horrors of these wars.

 

And....you don't think the Revolutionary War was an example of fighting for justice?

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I think it was a war for independence. Was England evil? I can't put that in the same category as preserving slavery and Nazis.

 

As for glossing over, that of course wasn't directed at you. We're talking about the treatment of WW2 in culture and media in the 90s and beyond.

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2 minutes ago, zoogs said:

I think it was a war for independence. Was England evil? I can't put that in the same category as preserving slavery and Nazis.

There are varying degrees of "evil".  

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12 minutes ago, BigRedBuster said:

 

I didn't gloss over any horrors of these wars.

 

And....you don't think the Revolutionary War was an example of fighting for justice?

 

I sure do.

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I tend to agree with zoogs on the revolutionary war. We are taught in school it was a fight against tyranny, but the average colonists didn't really have much skin in the game or care, and was probably ok with the status quo. The taxes impacted the wealthy more than the average man. The elites, land and plantation owners, etc. had to convince the common man that his interest lied with their own. It was really just another war fought to benefit those already well off. But I'm glad we got this country out of it. ;)

 

 

 

I disagree with the interpretation of Upham though. I think it's pretty obvious he isn't some incarnate of the intellectual who can not survive in war. He symbolises the lost innocence of the everyman in war. He doesn't smoke, doesn't take sides, doesn't understand the military jargon, gets people killed because of his indecisiveness. Then like everyone else he succumbs to war and kills a surrendering man. The war broke him. Even Private Ryan a green, but steadfast soldier, breaks down and begins crying mid battle. The interpretation given in the article is pretty lazy. 

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2 minutes ago, ZRod said:

I tend to agree with zoogs on the revolutionary war. We are taught in school it was a fight against tyranny, but the average colonists didn't really have much skin in the game or care, and was probably ok with the status quo. The taxes impacted the wealthy more than the average man. The elites, land and plantation owners, etc. had to convince the common man that his interest lied with their own. It was really just another war fought to benefit those already well off. But I'm glad we got this country out of it. ;)

 

Yep.  There are a lot of myths misconceptions and whitewashing of the details of the Revolutionary War.  For example, the number of Americans that were either proclaimed loyalists or neutral far exceeded the patriots actively supporting or fighting in in the war.  Estimates range from 20-30% Loyalist, 30-40% Patriot, and most colonists neutral.

 

There were a lot of horrible war crimes committed by both the British and the colonists that fail to get reported in the early histories.  In fact, I doubt that very many wars in human history have occurred without including some level of atrocities.  Senseless massacring of non-combatants, rape, torture, humiliation, looting, burning, evil acts: all of these are hallmarks of war in general.  Many histories like to gloss over the evil parts.

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Hm. I had forgotten that he was the one who shot the German he'd previously let go at the end. I think you're right, ultimately. 

 

When I watched it as a kid he was the coward who caused the good captain's death. I remember really liking the movie, and really not liking this little s#!t and thinking he should've manned up about the whole gun thing. I think I would have seen this act as either making up for the cowardice, or ... well, the coward tried, but it was already too late, wasn't it. I like the "it's a tragedy that war broke the best man" angle, although it's pretty grim. This might have been an unfair treatment of Saving Private Ryan, even if it does capture cultural attitudes about that war and generation pretty well.

 

I think I prefer the less nihilistic angles, where for example Frodo is rewarded for his mercy; he preserves his humanity in doing so, and the lesson is front and center. "Many that live deserve death...can you give it to them?"

--

 

I see the Revolutionary War as one faction wanting its own dominion over extracting wealth from this fruitful new land and its unwashed natives, on the backs of the slave labor, and seeing great advantage in getting out from under the British thumb in doing so. There are degrees of evil, and for all our salutary qualities we shared a lot of the more meaningful ones. Our love for country and freedoms need not be tied to adhering to an uncomplicated view of our origins; indeed, it should be cleaved entirely from it.

 

--
Speaking of degrees of evil, and valorized national legends of war, Winston Churchill: https://jacobinmag.com/2018/01/winston-churchill-british-empire-colonialism/

 

This is the first time I'm encountering a lot of the aspects of Churchill, both earlier life and during the war. In asking why, I really think there's a strong element of not letting things get in the way of mythos. The fuller picture should not have been so absent.
 

 

Edited by zoogs

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5 hours ago, BigRedBuster said:

And....you don't think the Revolutionary War was an example of fighting for justice?

 

 

I don't... I mean, not really, to be honest. It was a war for the self-interests of a minority amount of people, that also happened to coincide with some legitimate grievances they used to get others on board.

 

It was a relatively small group of wealthy, land-owning white men who were tired of not being free and saw an opportunity to literally create a country and shape it how they want. There's the famous, "no taxation without representation" bit, but from my understanding the colonists enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world, and were taxed much less than people actually in England. There's also a big contributing factor that England forbid westward expansion in order to protect the Indians as allies, while many Americans (I'd say motivated by greed), believed in a manifest destiny to conquer those lands and people.

 

Only about 1/3 of America supported revolution. The collateral damage being hundreds of thousands of people who probably didn't care all that much ending up dead. That's a war for "us" more than a war for "justice", even if there are legitimate grievances that can be used to support it.

 

Really, though, defining whether a battle is just is just as much about what battles we don't fight. How can self-serving wars be called just when we sit and do nothing as others are being massacred? 

Edited by Landlord

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Wasn't the taxation due to a debt England incurred by defending the colonies against France during the Seven Years War? I'm not as well versed in the Revolutionary War period, but recall something to that effect. 

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18 minutes ago, Fru said:

Wasn't the taxation due to a debt England incurred by defending the colonies against France during the Seven Years War? I'm not as well versed in the Revolutionary War period, but recall something to that effect. 

Yes, that was a big portion of it.  England's long struggle against France was very burdensome   

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