Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty yesterday, the first day of 2010’s summer, to using weapons of mass destruction in last May Day’s Times Square bomb attempt.
According to Ron Scherer’s report in the Christian Science Monitor, Shahzad said he
was “a Muslim soldier” avenging the deaths of Muslims killed by Americans overseas, and that he didn’t care that his bomb could have killed children.
“It’s a war. I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people….”
Today’s post was written by Daniel W. O’Connor. He wrote this before Shahzad’s plea.
Recently Chris and I had a brief discussion about the Nation and whether it was at war. My contention was and is that we as a Nation are currently not at war. I’m not cynical about it, but based on the evidence I say we are not at war. The Department of Defense is fighting, but even whether they are at war is debatable.
I believe that as a Nation we have not been at war since August, 1945.
Firstly, War has not been declared. Article one, Section eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War….” There is no guidance in the Constitution about what form a declaration has to take. But the Constitution could not be clearer: it is Congress that declares war. And that has not happened.
Further, we have not mobilized, shared sacrifice, lived an austere life, or contributed as a whole. While our National preeminence has grown in the last 65 years, so to0 has our culture of consumption, consumerism, expectation, and entitlement. Also, the costs of our growing social programs and our international aid programs only increases.
The maintenance of a highly expensive, very technical, and mostly capable, yet potentially hollow armed forces continues to grow as well.
Combined with the exponentially growing debt — a debt not owned by Americans but primarily China and Japan — we are clearly spending trillions of dollars for something not considered a war.
What are we suppose to do during a war? Can we even define it? We do not conserve anything to help the ‘boys’ and now girls, “over there.” There is no rationing of fuel, natural resources, robust recycling, or transition to a pure wartime economy. There are no war bond drives to raise capital to fund our Nation’s war machine. There has been no repositioning or purposing funds for a war. We have not changed any of our behaviors, and we become contrite when the prospect is broached.
World War II challenged and confronted the citizens of this Nation. The government deemed it necessary to ration food, gas, and even clothing during that time. They went so far as to collect grease drippings from neighborhoods to render glycerine from glycerol so it could be made into nitro-glycerine for bombs and explosives.
Obviously, today is not the America of the post depression, 1940s. In those days of war, Americans were mandated to conserve everything. With not a single person unaffected by the war, rationing meant sacrifices for all.
Most Americans cannot fathom this. They cannot fathom the costs of a real war.
Today, the price in blood is no longer spread over the majority of the populace. The price has been paid by a select few who volunteer and by a new group: contractors.
The price in dollars has been financed entirely by borrowing. Taxes have not been raised to pay for it. So if we are borrowing money for bullets, band-aids, bombs, and benefits what good is that?
Deficit spending gives the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed, that we can have guns and butter and welfare and medicaid and everything all the time. But of course the laws are not repealed. The costs of the war are real and even if deferred, are coming due. And we cannot pay!
It is even debatable whether the Department of Defense is at war. How can you compare Army and Marine Units living in the frontier villages of Afghanistan with the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots living in Nevada? This disparity breeds resentment and demonstrates a removal from the human devastation of warfare. What about the multiple deployments of these “volunteers”?
Do we even have an enemy? Do we have an end state? Do we have a purpose? What happens if Osama bin Laden is captured or simply surrenders? Does anything end?
If we are not mobilized, not sacrificing, not rationing, and not drafting, we are not at war.
Clausewitz said, “War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means.”
So I guess we are borrowing money for political means?
Is this our future: ugly, ill conceived, scrapes in third world places? Is this an outcrop of globilization and the price of lone superpowerhood? As complexity and friction increase, will we be able to continually fight this kind of skirmish?
If we are not at war, the approximately 118,000 service members who have lost their lives since WWII had no reason to sacrifice.
If we are not at war it must be concluded that terrorism is not the threat it has been purported to be, but simply a nuisance to endure.
Clearly, if terrorism were the existential threat we’ve been told it is, our Nation would be united and driven to make sacrifices for the greater good.
But that is not the case.
We are not at war.
Asked whether he was certain he wanted to plead guilty, Shahzad said he wanted to plead guilty 100 times more, and warned that if the US did not leave Iraq and Afghanistan, “we will be attacking US.”