The Breakfast Table

Bombs Away

Macho macho (wo)man!

Why don’t you suit up and ship over to Kosovo yourself? You’d look sharp in a B-52 jumpsuit. I think our old Kevlar vest may still be in the attic, with the retractable groin plate and matching helmet. I’ve even got a drawer full of Yugoslav dinars you can use to steel yourself with a few shots of shlivovitz before wasting those wicked Chetniks!

Me, I think it’s healthy that we have soldiers and military leaders who aren’t keen to get waxed on some foreign battleground. What do you prefer, Sir Douglas Haig sipping tea while ordering hundreds of thousands of limeys to their death at the Somme? Or Sir Ian Hamilton, who sent all those Aussie blokes into the Turkish guns at Gallipoli? I think our recent incursions have gone well, by historic standards. At least for the Americans involved. What I think we have to be brutally honest about is that our risk-aversion when it comes to American lives means terribly heightened risk for the civilians of countries we’re assaulting with bombs and missiles instead of ground troops.

I’m also not sure about your characterization of the Army. It’s got a legionnaire quality already, what with recent graduates like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. Bombs away! A deeper problem, I think, is that we’ve got an entire generation (myself included) that’s never been asked to do a minute’s service of any kind, military or otherwise. I even dodged the Boy Scouts. The only contribution we make to the commonweal is taxes, and we whine plenty about that. So the thought of actually making any sort of sacrifice on behalf of the nation, even if we’ve signed up to do exactly that, seems somehow grossly unfair. Meanwhile, many of our baby-boom political leaders haven’t a clue what they’re asking our military people to do. On the one hand, that makes them skittish, but I think there’s also the opposite danger. It’s a lot easier to endorse war if you’ve never actually been in one.