Peace through victory - the American way.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pssst! Didja Hear? War Is Bad.

The Union-Tribune today reviewed a play that recently opened in San Diego about women who served in Vietnam. (See review here.) Apparently, the play is timely because Vietnam is like Iraq. Or so says the reviewer, Anne Marie Walsh.
"Now, in the midst of another seemingly endless war against an intractable home-based insurgency in Iraq, Mo'olelo Performing Arts has revived [Shirley] Lauro's play in a professional and often powerful production. Company founder Seema Sueko's stated goal is to open dialogue about the Vietnam and Iraq conflicts and to educate audiences about the human costs of every war."

There's a rash of anti-war plays these days and "A Piece of My Heart" is apparently the latest. It seems to be a common goal of these plays to educate audiences about the human costs of every war.

Well, excuse us if Mister Americano is not impressed. Artists are constantly telling us about the human cost of war. We get it already. War is hell. General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of this site's favorite American generals, said that a long time ago. He also advocated the killing of 300,000 Southern males as a precondition to peace. Here's an example of his thinking.
"I was satisfied, and have been all the time, that the problem of war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the south must be killed outright rather than in the conquest of territory."
A brutal thought? Yes. But immoral? No.

The slave-holding society of the Confederacy deserved the destruction it received at General Sherman's hands and the true believers who fought and killed for it deserved their fates. Would any true-believing anti-war activist or artist living in America today seriously argue that the benefits to our country of fighting the Civil War --- for instance, freeing the slaves, the passage of the 14th Amendment, the unification of the country --- were outweighed by the costs of that terrible conflict? Of course not.

Mister Americano would be more impressed if some cutting-edge artist dared to produce a play that addressed the human benefits of some wars. For instance, already in the 21st Century the United States has launched two wars against both theocratic and secular fascist regimes and liberated some 50 million people. There have been terrible costs to each liberation but the costs of each war have to be weighed against the benefits..

It's probably too much to ask of most artists that they produce plays about the benefits of war. Even cutting-edge artists know they can only go so far before alienating their audience.

Nor is Mister Americano impressed with this kind of theatrical review.
"The show opened Friday, the same day that former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the Army Reserve commander reprimanded for her lack of oversight at Abu Ghraib, unloaded during a local radio show. Demoted by the Bush administration for not keeping 'a few bad apples' in line at the detention center, she told a different story. She reiterated that political higher-ups should be held responsible for creating the punitive culture that allowed the abuse.

Comparing Lauro's behind-the-scenes heroines of Vietnam to the highly public roles of Karpinski or the pathetic, pregnant Pfc. Lynndie England or the media-created war hero-for-a-day, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, will surely get people talking. Military women have moved from their invisible service jobs into their age-old virgin-whore, hero-scapegoat roles in Iraq. And now, a woman Secretary of State talks of another decade-long commitment and makes noises about Syria, eerily reminiscent of the ill-fated U.S. decision to invade Cambodia. This is progress?"

Excuse us, but this is a review?

And to answer the reviewer's question, yes, this is progress. America's Secretary of State during wartime is a woman. Women have moved beyond their invisible service jobs to more public roles in government and more central roles in the armed forces. Inevitably some will succeed and some will fail. That we apparently only hear about the failures says more about the media's focus on everything negative in this war than it says about society's attitude towards the women who serve. In today's non-traditional warfare there are no frontlines and woman are serving in combat. That is progress of a kind and their contribution is deserving of respect.




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