The Washington Post has put together a handy and also really depressing chart to help you calculate what percentage of your life the United States has been at war:
(WaPo acknowledges that their calculation of years of war is necessarily subjective—“Korea counts but Kosovo doesn’t in our analysis, for example”—so it probably wouldn’t be difficult to make a case for even more years of war than the chart depicts.)
Of course, this dismal tally is made grimmer when we consider the fruitlessness and destruction of many of these conflicts. Over at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison just posted a devastating critique of the recently undead canard that 2003’s invasion of Iraq made the world a better place:
The hawkish argument that “the world is better off” because of the Iraq war isn’t just obviously false, but it’s the sort of desperate ends-justify-the means claim that only ideologues and propagandists find compelling. If we take Iraq war dead-enders at their word that they think the world is better off, this just confirms that they have no understanding of the consequences of the war they supported. More than decade of conflict in Iraq has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, injured countless more, displaced millions, driven millions more into exile, and has brought about the complete ruination of an entire country. The war empowered sectarians and jihadists, and exposed the country’s religious minorities to an unending nightmare of persecution. Only a fanatic could look at the devastation wrought by the Iraq war and its aftermath and conclude that the world is better place because of it.
Larison’s appraisal resonates with me—and I suspect it resonates with most Millennials—because war leading to more war is pretty much all I can remember. In this light, as Memorial Day approaches, I’d like to share Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy’s Memorial Day Pledge to create a very different ratio of years at war for the next generation:
I will not raise my precious child to kill your precious child.
And if it is within my power, I will
not hand over my beloved child to others
to kill your beloved child, or
to learn how to kill the one you cherish.