I found a list the other day showing how many wars the United States has been involved in since our revolution. There have been 35. That means that the average period between wars since 1775 is about 6.8 years. War, it seems, is quite common among us in the United States.
Most of us over the age of 30 can probably identify the causes of the Revolutionary war. Probably most people would have an idea of the causes of the Civil War and perhaps WWII. The other wars, though, not so much. For example, how many might know the causes of the War of 1812? Or the Tecumseh war? The Spanish American war? Or others fought throughout our history. I couldn’t tell you.
I can tell you that wars are fought in order to gain economically, or to accumulate power, or to impose a religious/ideological philosophy. Perhaps a combination of all three. Whatever the reason, the goal is always to force one’s will on another. A defeated enemy – the losers – must submit to the winner. To the victor go the spoils and all that.
The military strategist Carl Von Clausewitz wrote, “war is… politics by other means.” It stands to reason then that politics is war by other means. Looked at in this way, we, especially in the United States, are in a constant state of war with one another; a constant “civil” war. Our political system rests on the premise that “civil”, informed debate between opposing points of view produces policies that best represent the will of the people. But, this continuing, constant debate means that U.S. politics also fosters a perpetual cold war among us.
Our perpetual, electoral seasons are chock full of war terms and phrases: battlegrounds, campaigns, targets, war rooms, strategy, and planning. Our political system is a war machine. Political campaigns are our way of avoiding hot wars. Always, though, one political party is at war with the other, dividing the electorate into factions, pitting one side against another. Not, mind you, for the interests of the nation as a whole but for partisan, selfish, parochial, interests. Wars have winners and losers. What kind of politics pits half the nation against the other; making half the nation losers?
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