Yeah, but…George Orwell’s doublethink affects war.

To the Editor:
    There were many photographic images from Vietnam that turned public opinion against that war:  a young naked girl running from a village that had been hit with napalm, bodies of women and children lying in a ditch at My Lai, bombs falling like rain from B-52s.  A particularly graphic picture was of a Vietnamese general killing a handcuffed man suspected of being Viet Cong with a pistol shot to the head.  These images flew in the face of a general belief that we were not only there justly but that we “respected life” differently than did other races.  War scrambles ideas in odd ways (the My Lai massacre became a war crime, but napalm, white phosphorus, saturation bombing, and Agent Orange did not) but George Orwell was brilliant in linking Doublespeak and perpetual war in the slogan, War is Peace.  Such “Doublethink” allows us to accept that which is not true as Truth, that we are righteous when we are not, and, let’s face it, we are there.  Torture is termed “enhanced interrogation”, the death of innocent people is “collateral damage”, “saving lives”, never an issue in revolutions across Black Africa, is a rationale for firing cruise missiles into oil-producing Libya, not having “boots on the ground” means we are not engaged while predator drones serve as emotionally detached, video game assassins.  The saddest part is that, unlike mental illness, Doublethink is a conscious disconnect from reality.  Those who believe assassination is “justice served” are, in truth, following in the same footsteps as John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, Sirhan Sirhan, and Osama Bin Laden himself.  We know it, but we don’t care.

Humanitarian War

To the Editor
American history is filled with a long and almost continuous succession of wars.  From the beginning we fought wars of independence, of unification and expansion.  We fought a “War to End All Wars” and a “World War” against two powerful nations with ambitions of Empire and then embarked upon a “Cold War” during which we amassed a mind-boggling nuclear arsenal aimed at the Soviet Union, formerly an invaluable ally against Nazi Germany.  During this time, despite the warning of departing President Dwight Eisenhower against the rise of a “Congressional military industrial complex”, the budget for the War Department , expediently renamed the Department of Defense, grew astronomically.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the vanished threat of nuclear war and spread of global Communism, a hope of beating our swords into plowshares briefly arose until the attacks of 911 elevated the threat level of a few thousand Third World radical Islamists somehow equal to that of Hitler. Mussolini, Tojo, and a possible nuclear holocaust.  We have been engaged in “hot” wars in the Middle East ever since and our “defense” budget exceeds that of the rest of the world combined.  We are also the largest exporter of military hardware and, sadly, we have no jobs available should we begin bringing our soldiers home.  And now, despite Martin Luther King’s shining legacy of non-violence in the Civil Rights Movement and Barack Obama’s (perhaps only hopefully pre-emptive) Nobel Prize for Peace, in our “humanitarian war” in Libya we seem to have fully achieved the double-think mindset of George Orwell’s 1984 that, indeed, “War is Peace”.  It is not a comfortable place to be.