Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Pseudo-Sacrifice of War...Two Years Later

A few years ago on my old Political Pop Culture blog I wrote about my frustration with the lack of a war effort in a few posts called "the pseudo-sacrifice of war." The following post was written in May of 2007. As you can see, part of what I wrote included my frustration with the policy that denied media coverage of flag-draped caskets coming home. I feel as though this is an important thing for Americans to see as it reminds us that the war is actually happening...that there actually is a "cost" to the war. Last week I was incredibly excited to see that President Obama lifted the ban on media coverage that the first Bush put in place back in 1991. You can read more about that story here.

"What does a war effort look like," I asked my elder? "Oh, I guess you've never really known one," he replied with heavy eyes.

The truth is, I haven't the slightest clue as a civilian what the military words "sacrifice," "cost of war," and "war effort" mean. Apparently, those older than I- that have lived through multiple wars remember and know these words well. I have recently inquired about what daily life for civilians looked like in previous wars- the answers I got made a few of the pieces of the puzzle come together in my mind.

The war effort included rationing on the part of the people- people could only buy gas on certain days, they saved and recycled rubber goods, and were forced to weep and pray as they watched the television every night and saw the images of flag-draped caskets coming home from overseas.

Today, war looks and feels much different. A war effort does not exist- civilians know no immediate sacrifice. It has become a white collar effort back home- companies like exxon/mobil continue to drive gas prices up while raking in record breaking profits...while no mention of rationing/conserving gas on the part of the people. The images once shown on the television have been removed "out of respect for the soldier's families," and the cost of war will not truly be known until 10 years from now when the war is over physically, but not mentally for the veterans.

I am sure most of you reading this now already understand why there is no war effort this time around- if there was, and civilians couldn't live comfortably- then I think this war would have been over a while ago. This is the same reason why I am pro-draft...if there was a draft, and the upper-class had to go to war- it would be over tomorrow.

It is vital that we have a war effort back home. I think seeing images of flag draped caskets help civilians to understand and remember the cost of war. If there is no effort now, why should the administration expect there to be one in 10 years?

So I ask blog[world] can we create a war effort stateside? Do you feel it is too late? Can we somehow usurp the conversation and re-frame it to include the importance of civilians sacrifice/cost of war/effort?

This war is bankrupt in so many ways because stateside it is effortless.

Ron Werner Jr

May 16, 2007

While we may not be recycling rubber and rationing gasoline like wars of yesteryear, I hope that we all are making intentional efforts to remember that there is a war happening right now. As part of my Lenten journey this year, I am joining some peace activist friends (they have been doing this since the war started) on the corner of downtown Bend each Friday afternoon to protest the war and plead for peace. Come make a poster and join us- or just come by and say hi!

You can read my other posts on the "Pseudo- Sacrifice of War" from May 2007 here and here.


  1. So glad you are blogging regularly again Ronnie. There does seem to be a shift in war time etiquette. As far as rationing, sacrifice and the like I think it's as much a cultural shift as a difference in the type of war we are involved in. WWII was easier for people to get behind because there was an enemy with an easily identifiable face. It was a fight between freedom and fascism which was more relatable. This war is different is so many ways: the facelessness of the opposition, the unprecedented media coverage etc.
    To answer your question more directly, it's the idea of sacrifice that is at the root of the problem. During WWII people had just lived through the Great Depression so sacrifice, saving, rationing was still fresh in their mind. In these times people have different priorities. Your example of the record profits of oil companies is exactly what I'm talking about. You know the idea of sacrifice is a hot button issue for me with everything from war, to hybrid vehicles. Unfortunately nothing is sacred anymore but I do agree with Obama's decision regarding the media ban because my hope is that it will make war and the related sacrifice more tangible. Love you buddy.
    P.S. I totally dropped the ball on bringing you and Kaycee coffee so I owe you two a couple of fancy coffee drinks. Maybe I can help you recruit some sign spinners to bring a little more attention to your cause??

  2. Great post Ronnie. Not only am i in favor of a draft, i'm in favor of conscription. You turn 18, whether you graduated high school or not, you serve in the military. Not only would our citizens learn valuable skills and hard work, but it would even the playing field a whole hell of a lot. And it would force every citizen of this country to have an opinion on what it's elected officials do with our military, because it truly would be "our" military.