Last week a group of friends and I were sitting around having a chat when someone asked the question, “How long had the Vietnam War been going on before people really started protesting?” The idea being, how much longer does this war in Iraq have to go on before we start seeing large scale protests along the lines of Vietnam.
My thought was that until there’s a draft, it ain’t gonna happen. Not until Americans at home feel some aspect of the war encroaching on their everyday lives will people be motivated enough to get out there and make some noise. Either for or against it.
This sparked a discussion about how, though we’re at war, it hardly feels like it here at home. It’s not like living through WWII with rationing, Victory Gardens, people knitting socks, or filling in jobs on the factory assembly line because all the able-bodied men were off fighting the war. It’s not like Vietnam, with the draft sparking college campus protests, riots, and draft dodging. And I think our society is so desensitized to violence, that images from Iraq have less power to shock and awe nightly news audiences the way they did during Vietnam. On the other hand, images that come from the Iraq war are tightly controlled–don’t show any caskets!
It really got me thinking. I don’t know a single person in active military service. Other than the inevitable higher taxes (we’ll eventually have to pay for this mess somehow) I can’t think of a single way that the Iraq war directly impacts my life. It’s just strange. While Iraq so dominates what’s going on in the world, and is the single most important crisis that our nation’s leaders have to deal with (and I say that in part because the war takes the focus off of dealing with other big issues) it couldn’t feel more removed from my life.
Coincidentally, Joe Klein’s column in this week’s Time magazine directly relates to this. Give it a read and see what you think.
How does the war impact your life? Is it even relevant? What do you think it will take before the American public takes it to the streets, either in favor of wrapping it up and getting out, or giving the war more support, in whatever form that might be?