Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria and Queen Anne's War

I've been thinking about Syria. And the decrease in government's power to fight wars. I came of age during the Vietnam War, and I carried a draft card. When the draft was abolished, it was very meaningful for me.

Recently, I believe it was Prime Minister Cameron who told the House of Commons in London that President George W. Bush had poisoned the well of government credibility with his lies about the Iraq War.

Vietnam said no more mass infantry wars.  Iraq said -- what?  Maybe, we'll never believe you again.  I'm not sure.

There's a longer historical progression here. If you go back to the eighteenth century, the business of monarchs was war. Anybody remember what Queen Anne's War was about? I don't, but I'm sure it involved royal vanity, along with Kissingerian statecraft.  (Actually, I just looked it up.  It was about who should be king of Spain.)

The idea that governments should do things other than war -- say look after the welfare of the people -- really got its start with the American Revolution.

As I often do, I find myself feeling sorry for President Obama. He wants to do the right thing.  And here he is paying for George W.'s sins.

But maybe, long-term, we're on a good arc. Maybe government has other tasks, beyond figuring out who has the biggest missile.

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