Thursday, October 19, 2006
The American people had incredible patience with World War II; giving all their sons and proudly bearing years of rationing. Today’s Americans barely know anyone in Iraq. They sacrifice nothing. But ask yourself why?
The best training course I ever received in my career was one entitled, ”You are what you were when”. What the instructor was saying is there is a time in everyone’s life when he is open to influence from external events. The stronger the events, the more indelible the impression. The depression had a profound influence on my parents. But the most profound one was sacrifice and patience. That made the heroic behavior of World war II Americans possible. They had incredible patience and a willingness to sacrifice to achieve the common good. But there will never be a generation like that again and they are almost all dead. I am 60 and grew up with the Cold War and Vietnam and racial violence. Air raid sirens, nuclear survival drills, the draft, tent city, but a great respect for authority figures. I have a strong patriotic streak that I inherited from my father, but it was sorely tested by Vietnam.
It was this event that for the first time left me with a great distrust for elected officials. It is my generation that is in power now. They are imbued with the same experiences as me. But what about those who are younger? The cold war was over, Vietnam not even a memory. No crisis to leave an indelible mark. What filled the vacuum? All the excesses of our culture of images. TV, rock stars, Hollywood, and instant gratification by doting parents who did not want them to experience the times of sacrifice, immanent destruction and ugly wars. My generation grew up in a era of fair play. This generation grew up in an era of winning.
Our leaders and I need to take the mindset of the current American people into account when setting expectations for acceptance of our foreign policy, particularly the War in Iraq. What is the mindset of many Americans with regard to war? Mine was Vietnam. My kids saw Granada, Libya, Panama and Gulf I. Wars won in 1-2 weeks and you go home. I never want to see another Vietnam. My kids think wars should be over in weeks.
We won Gulf II in three weeks, but 3 years of occupation and body bags are upsetting to both the Vietnam generation and the young. Today no one is taught the correct lessons of history. When you site World War II there is no one alive to agree with your arguments. My generation is now a minority. Our foreign policy needs to consider the mindset of the current American people. Our military actions need to swift and overwhelming. Then get out. The vast majority of Americans want things over with in less than a month. The want to be left alone to pursue their busy lives. They are very vulnerable to images and emotional songs, but have a short attention span to rhetoric. This president grew up with my generation. He does not understand the power of images and sound and the futility of words. No one in Washington does, except the liberal media.