Sunday, November 14, 2004

Wars in Overlap

As the fighting for Fallujah has intensified, the very soul of the War for Iraq coalesced in one place, I am in a mood to think about other kinds of war.

One distinct side effect of the present day methods of education so commonly empoloyed, is that many high-school graduates have little grasp of historically significant events. Many times even college graduates are unable to name the significance of America's very existence, much less the import of the last two generations of History. The need to address that canyon of ignorance is one of my most pressing motives for writing this blog. It also occurs to me, that far too many people are unaware of the wars in which we are all presently engaged.

Wars also overlap, a fact lost on people who think that the end of military action means the end of the conflict. Consider the American War for Independence. Most people think it ended in 1781 at the Battle of Yorktown, if indeed they think of it at all. Perhaps others consider that it did not end until 1783, when the British finally got around to an Armistice. Others might recall that the British Empire did not enact even one of the agreed elements of the Treaty until 1787. But since the British invaded the American mainland after that, sacking a number of cities including Washington, D.C., it is quite fair to say that the American Revolution did not, in fact, truly end until 1814, when the British finally acknowledge once and for all, that they could not end our existence, and began to treat us as something like a real nation. The War for Independence and the War of 1812 were, from our perspective, bookend actions on the same war.

Many people think the Civil War began in 1861 and ended in 1865. But for farmers in the middle states, who saw violence as early as 1841, they might tell you something else. And with the rise of the KKK in the South, essentially domestic terrorism which was not stamped out for nearly a century after Lee surrendered, it's hard to say when the country in total was at "peace".

After the War of 1812, the United States and England joined together to rid the oceans of international piracy. The combination of allied and unilateral actions removed the threat of international sea marauders from the world, until breakdowns in cooperation (thanks to Japanese and Southeast Asia's indifference) allowed piracy to reform in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The effort continued even as the nations were involved in other wars, demonstrating the ability to fight wars in multiple fronts against multiple enemies for multiple goals.

Many conflicts of our own generation actually began long ago. The destruction wrought by drug abuse was long known, and by the end of the 19th Century, proscription of Opium was the law in most nations. After World War 1, drug use by veterans skyrocketed, especially with the introduction of heroin and the retail availability of cocaine. This was in large part due to the horrific nature of WW1; the battlefield use of gas, futile assaults against machine-gun emplacements, and the lack of effective field hospitals led to horrific casualties, both in number and damage. Survivors were often in constant pain for the rest of their life.

Another war long in progress, but not much-considered, is the war against Organized Crime. American historians are familiar with J. Edgar Hoover's response, to deny that OC even existed; unfortunately, that was not an uncommon response. The Mafia, various domestic criminal gangs, the Yakuza, and of course the Triads and Tongs have all affected the course of governments, in wars and peacetime both. The history there is so involved and significant, it deserves notmerely its own article, but a book with detailed notes and cross-references. It is worth noting for here, however, that even nations which consider their own political philosophy incompatible with the United States, nonetheless cooperate with the U.S.A. to defeat international crime syndicates.

The list goes on, but space and attention have limits. For here and now, it's important to consider the conflicts going on at present:

[] The War Against International and State-Sponsored Terrorism;

[] The War to Establish a Functioning Arab Democratic Republic;

[] The War to Convince the Totalitarian Regimes, That They Cannot Win a Military Conflict Against the United States, Regardless of Their Strategy or Tactics;

[] The War to Prove Communism Futile as a Political System;

[] The War to Prove Socialism Futile as a Political System;

[] The War to Pre-Emptively Remove Threats to American Citizens;

[] The War to Secure American Influence for the Century to Come;

[] The War to Separate Religion From National Policy;

[] The War to Advance Africa and the Middle East to a Better Standard of Life and Civil Rights; and

[] The War to Prove the Truth of the United States Constitution.

Many of these conflicts seem related, and some can be accomplished through coordinated moves. Others will require a different sort of conflict than military action, and will take longer to accomplish their objectives. But these are all important objectives, and some of them predate the Bush Administration (even the first Bush), and some will go on for as long as we can see ahead. But it remains important to see that higher dimensions exist, and that our nation's identity will be determined by the resolution of these conflicts.

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