Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: War Abroad, Little Sacrifice at Home

Thursday, January 20, 2005

War Abroad, Little Sacrifice at Home

In a spectacular Washington Post article today, Dana Milbank digs deeper into the issue of lavish inaugural celebration while the country is at war. Rather than simply comparing the $40 million in donations spent on today's party to the lack of proper funding for troops in combat, Milbank sees this event as indicative of the national sentiment here at home.

While contrasting Roosevelt's meager wartime inauguration with Bush's indulgent celebration has been a common theme (including here at RWE) there has been little comparison between the war rationing and military draft of WWII and the current war that most citizens watch on their high-definition televisions between filling up the tanks of their SUVs and buying $5 cups of coffee.

"For most Americans, the wars on terrorism and in Iraq have been primarily 'spectator' wars, not 'participant' wars [...] The civic energy and national solidarity that was the one silver lining in the tragedies of 9/11 has been almost dissipated in the subsequent 3 1/2 years. When Americans asked after 9/11, 'What can I do?' the answer was, 'Here's some money back from your taxes, now go spend it.' "

"We're waging war on the cheap, and not asking much either materially or psychologically from the society at large," says historian David M. Kennedy.

"Asked a month after the 2001 terrorist attacks about the need for sarifice, [President Bush] said; "I think the American people are sacrificing now. I think they're waiting in airport lines longer than they've ever had before.

"If war costs and casualties grow, Kennedy wonders whether the public 'will be prepared to embrace a spirit of sacrifice at home' in the form of a draft, higher taxes or economic restrictions. 'I'd surely bet against it,' he said."

Full Article