Wednesday, September 26, 2007

There's A War?

Ken Burns' and PBS' documentary, The War, is a monumental effort showcasing a nation at war, but in contrast to today, it also shows us to be a nation in peril. In the mammoth fifteen hour project, Burns brilliantly shows the war's experience from America's perspective, mainly focusing on four towns scattered throughout the country. Through Tuesday night, we witness the bond drive, the euphoric feeling of young citizens enlisting and being drafted, battles in the pacific, Africa and Europe, the effort to save resources and the booming military industrial complex that put millions to work. Basically, you see much of what you don't see today.

Chris Meehan wrote an interesting piece regarding Blackwater and other private contractors in Iraq last Monday. It's something that would appear alien in the world Ken Burns has brought to us. Paying ex-soldiers to be soldiers is not exactly a value shared by the men who fought and took the town of Cisterna in the spring of '44. Maintaining a policy of no-bid contracts and worrying about inadequate body-armor would appear treasonous to the families who stayed home between '42-'46, saving bacon fat and empty cans to contribute for the war effort.

MSNBC has an article about the Department of Defense battling with the State Department about private contractors and their role. The problem is that contractors' use are as prevalent among the DoD personnel as it is within State. One might say too little, too late regarding the DoD's efforts to take some hold of the situation, but seeing that we'll be in Iraq for a little while longer (I don't know if that's an under or overstatement), it may still be a good time to take some action.

Meanwhile, we delve deeper into fantasy sports, pray at the alter of celebrity news, and bob our heads to the new jingle remixed off Elvis Presley's great song, Viva Viagra! All this, and more, no doubt, to help us forget that there's a war going on. That young, poor men and immigrants are dying. That, despite official military rules, young women are fighting in fierce combat. And that there may be no clear end in sight.

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