Archive for June 18th, 2012
I just finished reading War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, a 2003 book by Chris Hedges. This is a deeply emotional book, but also a highly abstract treatise. Hedges has worked as a reporter in more than a few war zones, and he draws upon those personal experiences to illustrate his analysis of the instant and all-encompassing meaning of war.
This is an extremely well-written work, that offers timeless observations. These are observations that are desperately needed by Americans and the many politicians that, perhaps unwittingly, mislead them. After reading Hedge’s work, I am more convinced than ever that for many people war is an almost irresistible intoxicant. As Hedges repeatedly points out, war intoxicates news reporters too, and then the vicious cycle revs up.
I’d highly recommend reading this entire book to anyone who wants to better understand warmongering, its cheerleaders and its victims. What follows, though, is a set of some of my favorite passages from War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning:
The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those who have the least meaning in their lives, the impoverished refugees in Gaza, the disenfranchised North African immigrants in France, even the legions of young who live in the splendid indolence and safety of the industrialized world, are all susceptible to war’s appeal.
Glenn Greenwald points out that we’ve apparently learned nothing at all:
Here we have almost half of the U.S. Senate — liberals, moderates and conservatives — jointly demanding an escalation with Iran and all but endorsing a war before the U.S. Government even proposes one. Has the American political and media class learned a single lesson from the Iraq debacle?