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The Daily Tar Heel

America is Still At War, Even During Break

Let's be honest here -- could anyone have ever imagined that wartime would be like this? Somewhere, American soldiers are protecting your right to get trashed in Panama City. Considering the fact that the other instance of "wartime" we kids know of is the Gulf War (brought to you by the letters C, N and N), it's easier to understand that our generation has a skewed sense of war. Without the draft, supply rationing or the threat of losing, we must think that the definition of war is "a conflict in which America is the victor."

Of course, we have to go on with our daily lives during wartime. But in the previous century (pre-Korea), while people were going about their daily lives, there was no question that America was at war -- there was a clear and distinct enemy, the sovereignty of nations was on the line, and most of the government's actions were justified in the context of the times. These days, the average American only understands that the Land of the Free is at war because George W. has desperately implored everybody to spend their money in order to prop up the economy and America's ridiculous war machine. After all, our tax money goes to the purchase of important war trinkets such as the Crusader, a 70-ton, $475 million self-propelled artillery system that has no chance of propelling itself off the continent, let alone anywhere near Afghanistan. As Conn Hallinan points out in the San Francisco Examiner, with military spending continuing the way it is, America will be spending close to half a trillion dollars per year by 2007 on its ability to make war -- more than 54 times the combined military budgets of the so-called "Evil Axis" members.

Not impressed? The government couldn't care less. In fact, George W. and company are so sure that you are blindly passionate about America and mindlessly committed to continuing your daily lives that you won't care a lick about how they spend your tax dollars or about the Shadow Government that's been in place since Sept. 11.

For those of you who don't know, the concept of the Shadow Government was supposedly developed by the Eisenhower administration back when dominant military strategies involved being the first to nuke the hell out of the other guy. The aim was to create a body of decision-makers that would ensure the continual running of the country in case of nuclear attack.

While having a "contingency" government seems to make sense in case of a catastrophe, the idea of 100 plus senior civilian managers operating in secret without the consent of Congress or otherwise is downright scary.

This is wartime, folks. It's wartime not because there is a true war being waged but because of the questionable actions taken by your non-elected government. While we've been figuring who's driving with whom down to Florida, we've had a bloody secret government operating for the last six months -- an evil that the government was unwilling to implement even at the height of the Cold War. And while we'll be drinking our Captain and Cokes and our Milwaukee's Best, the armed forces will be playing with their billion-dollar war toys.

All of this has nothing to do with the foolishness of Spring Break and everything to do with the need for Americans to realize that the times we live in are seriously screwed up.

Is the Crusader necessary? Is the F-15 so obsolete that the armed forces need the new F-22 Raptor stealth interceptor or the $400 billion Joint Strike Fighter in order to make war on terrorists? Through some weird twist of reality, America is fighting a post-modern war; there's all the makings of war without an actual war to fight.

It's true that America needs to keep its people safe from the threat of terrorism, but the problem is that the steps taken by the government have not made Americans any safer today than they were before Sept. 11. Hallinan states very simply that, "terrorism is a political, not military problem." Until America realizes this, it'll be locked in a post-modern war it will never win or lose while its people will be binge drinking under the watchful eyes of a secret government that answers to no one.

Eugene Kim can be reached at chinook@email.unc.edu.

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