In the bookstore today, I dutifully reported to the display shelf adjacent to U.S. History, where I regularly check to see if our well-written, scrupulously edited, glowingly reviewed and woefully undersold anthology Operation Homecoming is still on offer.
I did not find it there. The display of writing on our military experiences in Iraq and the ‘Stan is gone, replaced with an ECONOMICS / LAW exhibit of books detailing the ways Wall Street has saved, destroyed, transformed, and transcended these United States.
And why not? Finance – naked capitalism, relying on no productive industry but on pure, predatory instinct and ruthless, digitally precise timing – underlies our nation’s maneuvers much more foundationally than do any decisions forwarded by the Department of Defense or <guffaw> our executive branch.
So our wars, my wars, those opening salvos of the 21st Century flutter away from view, a resigned diaspora to the back shelves to be shaded out by Civil War mayhem porn, the perennial Hitler garden, and whomever Bill O’Reilly is killing lately.
If Vietnam was despised and Korea forgotten, ours were and are the ignored wars, shoved down to the public subconscious even as they continue to eat men, women, and matériel.
We, the military community, are still there, albeit in smaller and smaller numbers stretched across a continually expanding AOR – Syria, anyone?
We, the American public, have never even gone there. Shielded from the visceral horrors by a contemptuous government and compliantly paternalistic press, the average U.S. citizen knows less about the ops we pay for than the average western European citizen.
Of course, you could always seek more in-depth knowledge at your local bookstore or library. Chances are, most of what you’ll learn is who made money off us, and how.
Perhaps, to we Americans, those are the facts that matter.