I Hope We Don’t Go to War

As you know, I am a student of history, particularly the history of war. It is my heartfelt wish that my children, their children, and their grandchildren should never have to face war. My grandfather served in World War I, my father in World War II. During my lifetime there was the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as various other military events, including Grenada, Libya, Syria, and a myriad of others. I served during the first Gulf War and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I have son who served 10 years in the Navy and is now in the reserves, so to me this is not merely an academic exercise.

The two wars that keep my attention are the United States Civil War and World War II. As is always the case, the wealthy and powerful decide to go to war while others who bear the burden.

In the 1860’s, many in the North opined that if the South wanted to leave the Union, they should be allowed to. The cannonade of Fort Sumter offshore of Charleston, South Carolina changed that and is considered the single most costly victory in the entire history of warfare.

During the Civil War, a wealthy man could pay someone else to serve in his place and did not need a medical excuse not to serve. Other influential men joined and were commissioned as senior officers regardless of their education or experience. For example, Brigadier General Joseph Davis, with no military training, rose to general because he was the nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; he lost nearly two regiments at Gettysburg.

World War II was a bit different. Having been drawn into World War I, Americans were predisposed to let Europe fend for itself—until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. That changed everything. Virtually the entire country threw themselves into supporting the war. Men enlisted and women took over the manufacturing and other duties back home.

Vietnam—some were drafted, some enlisted, some went to Canada, others went to a cooperative doctor for a deferral.

I am not a disinterest party in judging my fellow service men and women from the 80s until and including the 21st century. However, I would proudly serve again with any and all with whom I served with before.

Now to the crux. If we are faced with another crisis, what is my confidence level today? Like during the civil war, we are a country divided. The dividing lines are not geographic—they are philosophic. We could not build our way to victory as we did in the Second World War because we’ve exported our manufacturing. Today, if there was an embargo against the United States, could we even be confident that we could produce our own underwear? I doubt it.

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