THEN: Most of us remember the run-up to the Bush administration’s 2003 foray into the Middle East. The 9/11 attacks had taken place less than two years earlier and America was rightly looking for retribution. But inexplicably, the Bush administration chose to mount an immense attack on Iraq — a nation that, although admittedly ruled by a despot, had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks.
But what was particularly obscurant was the way that it seemed that on one day the invasion was rightly being debated and, almost literally the next — do you remember? — the invasion was ON; simply HAPPENING. Even much of the moderate and left-wing media flipped on a dime to suddenly reporting only about the ramp up and show-bizzy spectacle of the war itself. It was as if someone somewhere had made a decision, engaged ancient gears, setting a massive machine on an inexorable path.
That ancient machine, I believe, was the “military-industrial complex,” a phrase coined by Republican president Dwight Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell address more than half a century ago.
“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” Eisenhower said. “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes… Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
NOW: We’re hearing the drums of war again; faint rhythms wafting in from every direction. North Korea is the current threat but even the hawks seem to understand there is no military solution short of sacrificing the lives of tens-of-thousands of American soldiers stationed along the demilitarized zone and hundreds-of-thousands of South Koreans.
And so, the drums will continue. Softly, then louder; searching for any ear receptive to ramping up the immense machine yet again. It doesn’t take a lot to convince a large enough segment of the populace to go to war when you combine the hammerheads who see every conflict as a nail with the dispiritingly malleable segment which could not find Iraq and cannot find North Korea on a map to save their lives — and that likely would be the stakes if we blunder into a nuclear confrontation.
We must be ever watchful of Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex, eager to amplify the slightest provocation into a juked rationale for doing that voodoo it do so well: war.
THEN: You may know that we’re currently in the centenary of World War I — which ran four years from 1914-18. If you’ve wanted to know more about the Great War and its causes and have some fun in the process, consider attending the award-winning North County Players’ newest stage show, “Passage into Fear,” coming up at Escondido’s Star Repertory Theatre this coming weekend and next (Sept. 7, 8, 9, 10 and 14, 15, 16, 17).
“Passage into Fear” (written by yours truly) is a thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, but also has many humorous moments. It’s also pretty scary in parts but is okay for most families (it has an amazing six-year-old girl in a key role).
For you righties who tell me they read this column (BTW, thank you), “Passage” has NO political spin whatsoever. Zero. Promise. It unabashedly extols the values we all cherish. Again, promise.
Best of all, we’ve got a donor who is making it possible for me to offer readers of the Southpaw column tickets free of charge. Simply go to www.northcountyplayers.org, click the number of tickets you’d like, and enter the code SOUTHPAW at checkout. That’s it; you’re in. (You can also call 760-933-9174, but the website is easier and faster.)
Escondido’s Star Repertory Theatre is located at 329 E. Valley Pkwy between Ivy and Juniper Streets (across from that giant Joor Muffler guy that will someday certainly come alive and take over the town). There’s lots of free parking and comfortable seating. Goodies and refreshments (including beer and wine) are for sale.
Thanks for reading. See you, hopefully, at the show!
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Multiple award-winner author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, The Reader, The Californian, Parent Magazine, and many others. Contact him at charlescarr.com. Be nice.