Friday, February 10, 2012

Always on the Eve of Destruction

According to Wikipedia, the Iraq War lasted from March 20, 2003 until December 18, 2011. On March 20, 2003, I was a student in middle school. On December 18, 2011, I was a college graduate employed in my field and engaged to be married.

I have not known an America without war since my childhood. Even if America is done in Iraq, there is always the question of Afghanistan, a conflict that continues to rumble in the background. But that's for me, as an American; things are far more wretched from the other end of the telescope. Afghanistan has been at war since 1978, against the Soviet Union (1979-1989), the US (2001 - present), and itself throughout. You can read the details here, but basically what we think of as the War in Afghanistan is actually the third act in a very long and bloody play. It somehow gets worse when you find out that the average life expectancy there is about 44 years and you suddenly realize that there aren't going to be that many people who can clearly remember a time before there was war.

If that previous sentence didn't bum you out, you're welcome to look at Wikipedia's list of modern conflicts in the Middle East, which runs from 1918 to the present. War is more common than the lack of war.

And so, at last, we arrive at the present and find that the United States and Israel are engaged in an increasingly tense standoff with Iran over the latter's nuclear ambitions. If you ask the Iranians what they're doing in underground laboratories with uranium, they'll tell you that they're working on a nuclear reactor for the generation of electricity. The other two openly suspect that the Iranians might be building an atom bomb. The politics of it all get so much more complicated after that that nobody really knows what will happen next. And that's bad.

I hope this doesn't sound too detached, but how much more war can this part of the world take? And how much more can the United States take? The 1990s were tremendously dull for me when they happened, but now I can't help but think how nice it would be to live in a country that's not at war somewhere. We have too many problems here at home to afford another war, and yet there is a point beyond which not fighting is worse than fighting. The problem with that is that no two people can ever agree on where that point is - and, in this case, the stakes are exceptionally high.

EDIT: I've just learned that Anonymous is reporting (but not taking credit for) the disabling of the CIA's website, which explains why I couldn't use it to check Afghanistan's life expectancy rate a few minutes ago (I ended up using Wikipedia). In the spirit of looking at what a fantastic and frightening place the world is, take a few minutes to read this article about the rise of the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of rebellion. It may be coming soon to a street near you.

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