I responded by commenting in return that she had an excellent question, and one that we should discuss.
And between then and now I came across Glenn Greenwald's most excellent discursion on the whole issue of the American way of - and, in particular, our prediliction for - war.
He sums the whole magilla up pretty succinctly here:
We never go more than a few years without some kind of a direct war, and are always waging covert and indirect ones. American presidents are inherently "war presidents."This hit me like a blow to the chest. In fact, most of my adult life my country has been fighting someone. Vietnam when I was a schoolboy through high school, Grenada, Panama, Serbia, the Somali clans, Afghanistan and Iraq while I was a soldier and still, now that my own son is a schoolboy.
That's why this media construct that things are different for "war presidents" -- we have to give "war presidents" greater power and leeway; demand less transparency and accept more secrecy; acquiesce to abridgments of civil liberties when "America is at war"; and allow them the right to imprison people indefinitely with no trials even beyond "war zones" -- is so manipulative and misleading. It implies that "America at war" is some sort of unusual and temporary circumstance rather than what it is: our permanent state of affairs. In perfect Orwellian fashion, our allies can easily become our enemies (Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Mujahideen precursors to Al Qaeda) and our enemies can just as easily become our allies (Iraqi Sunnis, Gadaffi), but what never changes is our status as a war-fighting nation.
We seem to have no limit to our willingness to spill blood and spend treasure on war, far beyond the limits even of our Great Power rivals. Why? And is there something fundamentally different about us, us as a nation and us as a people, that creates this limitless willingness to fight?
I want to talk about this - where do you think we should start?