Between & Beyond: Rumors Of War

There are rumblings of war on the wind. It’s Russia’s turn to be global boogeyman again, and I’m curious to see how this unfolds. I shy away from conspiracy theories these days. In the end, any theory of this kind is built on too much conjecture. You can’t claim the total dominance of an elite superpower and then expect to unveil the true nature of their existence based on evidence they allowed you to have. Sure, I do think media serves certain interests. There’s no doubt. I do believe that different tribes of interest and power exist as well, and those tribes are blindly self-serving. They are out to remake the world in their own image at any cost (even their own existence). But, ultimately, my tiny life is so far removed from the truth of their nature.

Still, allow me the following conjecture. I have seen two wars in my lifetime. Both of them were constructed by the same architects in the same exact region. The Gulf War in the 1990s barely entered my consciousness as I was only 10 years old. But studying it now, I see the same players building a premeditated desire for imperial aggression on false pretenses. The Iraq War profoundly altered my consciousness, and studying it since it started, I saw the same players building a premeditated desire for imperial aggression on false pretenses.

I watched Errol Morris’ new documentary on Donald Rumsfeld. I was mostly unimpressed. I don’t need another 90 minutes of Rumsfeld dodging questions. I’ve had enough for a lifetime. I guess it was the whole giving-him-enough-rope-to-hang-himself approach but people perceive what they wish, and those who hated him before will wallow in the glut and those who aligned themselves with the Bush administration probably won’t even watch. What the film reminded me of was Rumsfeld’s storied rise to political power and his ultimate failure. Don has chilled out a bit these days. Every time I have seen him speak more recently, he has had his sociopathic disassociations at the ready and delivered them in a calm and measured manner. So, I had also forgotten how obstinate he was during press briefings back in the day. Seeing him in debates of the past, slick black hair, tough talking, meaning business, I saw he came from a different era, an era where chauvinism and tough talk were meant to impress. This cast his behavior in a slightly different light, but certainly did not excuse it at all. It just made him seem all the more calculating and ambitious. His carefully crafted rise to power, assisted by star cronies Cheney and Bush Sr., was put on hold by Jimmy Carter’s win over Ford. It was also nice to view the utter failure of the Iraq War in hindsight. Obviously, we went in on false pretense, but it was also immediately a disaster of logistics that only further degraded by the time Abu Ghraib broke into the headlines. So, sadly, the men and women who died there spilled their blood to save the reputation of policy makers and nothing more.

In the shadow of this war, I can’t help but be suspicious of the slowly simmering Russian conflict. It doesn’t have the same semblance of masterful and deliberate architecture that the Bush gang possessed, but after the seeming fire sale of the U.S. economy at the end of the Bush era in 2008, I can’t imagine this being a good idea. The financial crisis did have the faint prints of that familiar guiding hand: some kind of inner tribal warfare with a scorched earth policy. This looming war could be the war that ends American dominance.

But if we step away from the conspiracy conjecture for just a little bit what comes sharply into focus is the complete and utter failure of the Baby Boomers. I’m not even really talking about the rudderless way the hippies ran aground. As far as fabricating our culture, in terms milieu and various familiar tropes, their concerns became well-integrated. Sadly, mostly in a corporate co-opting façade kind of way, but that’s a different episode of this column altogether. But on the base level of taking care of and protecting their children, they have failed. I’m considered the last legs of Generation X, but between us and the Millennials, I can’t think of a generation more marginalized and abused. We find ourselves in an utter wasteland, littered with hollow forms of broken institutions. We are soaking in debt. The middle class is vanishing. And the value system of America has barely nudged from its most draconian incarnations. Some might ask me to consider the advancement of civil rights. And I would, as I think race itself is a worthless fabrication. But if it has any value, it’s a banner people can rally under for a common cause. To remove that is to remove a sense of unity that is the pretext for the kind of movements we need. I hope that if this notion of war develops beyond anything other than a notion then will my generation finally find a way to wrestle this dying world from the hands of our predecessors. Even if it’s dying, at least we can try to do something with it other than suck it dry.