America Is Not at War

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.

"America is not at war, the Marine Corps is at war, America is at the mall." There is a photo floating around on the internet with the above statement on it. In the photo there is a Marine in the background walking into a room and a "white-board" in the front of the picture has this statement written on it.

The picture can be seen on a number of Marine related web sites. On one web site a fourth line has been typed in that reads "and congress is out to lunch." I once referred to myself as a veteran to my mother while I was still on active duty. She informed my I was not a veteran. I asked her what she thought her husband, my father the retired Navy Master Chief was? She did not think he was a veteran. He was retired Navy.

Veterans, to mom, were her older brothers, who were gone from home for years and fought in the "big one," WW II. That was the war that the entire nation was alleged to have supported.

My mom remembers the Second World War because everyone back home got into the action. There were scrap metal drives. The Boy Scouts came by your home asking for old newspapers for the war effort. You saved your bacon grease for the war effort. Of course we call this recycling now, but today we do it for the environment, not for the defense of the nation.

There was also rationing going on all over the country. You got coupons from a ration control board that allowed you to buy a certain amount of sugar or coffee or gasoline. Your gas coupons also designated what your status was for driving. If you lived in a city you were not suppose to be driving all over the country on road trips. Your coupons were only good in certain locations.

If you were a doctor you could get all the coupons you wanted and could go anywhere you wanted. Gas rationing was, in effect, a way to control the movement of the American people. Yes you could get on a bus or train and still travel, but the military had priority. If you were able to buy a train ticket you might find yourself standing in the isle all the way to your destination.

Automobile tires were rationed because the rubber trees from whose sap they were made had fallen into the hands of the Japanese. So even if you had a car and gas you may not have had four good working tires.

All manufacturing of hunting ammunition was suspended for the duration of the war, at a time when many rural Americans hunted not just for sport but to put meat on the dinner table. Sometimes game meat was the only meat they got. Meat; by the way, was also one of the rationed items of WW II.

Then there were the War Bond drives. Hollywood movie stars and military war heroes traveled across the country holding bond drives and it was considered a patriotic duty to invest your money in the defense of the country.

The biggest difference between WW II and the Global War on Terrorists is summed up in "sacrifice." In both WW I and WW II the American public was not only asked to sacrifice, but expected to sacrifice. In our current war no one in the political arena wants to be the person who forces the public to start sacrificing by proposing, passing and enforcing laws that make us give up anything.

Approximately thirty percent of the jobs in the US are based on the automobile. Do you want to be the Senator who votes to make us consume less gasoline? This means people stop traveling and spending their money on food, hotels, souvenirs, and more gas.

How about war bonds? Over the past twenty months Americans have spent more than they have earned. Should they take what little money already saved out of their bank accounts, to buy US savings bonds? Trust me, the bankers and Wall Street will not stand idly by and allow their investors to buy bonds that have a better return than banks can or will offer.

If that young Marine is correct and America is really at the mall, maybe what we need is a one percent Federal sales tax specifically to pay for the war. Let America do what they appear to do best, "shop us to victory." Then everyone in the US will be sacrificing for their country. How may Starbucks coffee sales would it take to buy a new Humvee or an M-16 rifle?

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Copyright 2007, 2013 by Major Van Harl, USAF Ret. All rights reserved.

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