Hamilton: War weary or just world weary?
Readers of a certain age may remember the famed radio news broadcaster Gabriel Heatter and his catch phrase: “Ah, there’s good news tonight.” Unfortunately, today’s news is dominated by a new Islamist threat called ISIS or Putin’s threats against Ukraine or the possibility that President Obama may be cutting a deal with Iran so the Mullahs can have nuclear weapons.
As a consequence, we see polling data claiming Americans are “war weary.” But are Americans “war weary” or just weary, in general?
We know that our military, which the Obama administration is cutting in half, is weary from repeated overseas tours, many of them in harm’s way. We know the families and loved ones of those lost to the Islamic jihadists are more than weary. They are heart-broken.
A recent article by retired Gen. David Petraeus questions how our general public could be “war weary.” For example, during the four years the U.S. was in World War II, 11.2 percent of our total population back then served in uniform. Granted, many more served in vital, war-related industries. But that was long, long ago.
Over the 12 years of the Vietnam War, only 4.3 percent of us served in uniform. Most Americans knew little about Vietnam except what was broadcast by Walter Cronkite and other anti-war commentators. Now, in the 13 years following the Islamist attacks on our mainland on 9/11/2001, only 0.45 percent have served in the war against Islamic jihadist terror.
Even so, the polling data say most Americans are “war weary.” Maybe the polls are not asking the right questions? Could it be those who are otherwise not really impacted by the war against Islamic jihad as are our military and their loved ones, are merely “world weary?”
Maybe all this weariness started back in 1898 with the Spanish-American War when the U.S. began to take on the semblance of a world power? Following World War I, our world power status was no longer just a semblance. And, by the end of World War II, the U.S. was the major player on the world stage, rivaled, if at all, by the USSR and by Red China.
Presidents Truman and Eisenhower did yeoman work in the “containment” of Soviet and Red China military aggression and, by the end of the Reagan Era, we had “won” the Cold War. We had just started to relax only to be confronted by Islamic jihadists attacking western civilization almost everywhere. Now, we face ISIS in Iraq/Syria, which appears to al-Qaida on steroids.
The news industry is well aware that bad news “sells more newspapers than good news.” And, since 9/11, actual events, both foreign and domestic, have provided plenty of fodder to sell newspapers, and TV-news programming. Now sports news, which used to provide a welcome relief from the cares of the world, tackles us with some unpleasant realities.
The solution, if there is one, is to keep on keeping on. Take an extra moment to thank those in the 0.45 percent of Americans who are fighting the good fight to preserve western civilization. In November, take time to vote. Meanwhile, this writer is seeking refuge in Lawrence Welk re-runs.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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