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American Continuity


Marquel, TPVs NYTimes Perpetual War Section correspondent was visiting some distant cousins on Riker’s Island when one of them said:

Dude, have you read this shit?

Use of Drones for Killings Risks a War Without End, Panel Concludes in Report . The group of military, intelligence and legal experts warned of a “slippery slope” to perpetual war and the dangers of setting bad precedents for foes.

Marquel thought about the last fifty or sixty years of perpetual war we’ve already lived through. No drones. So what’s all the excitement about? They’re blaming the war on the weapons!

I went down to my army recruiter. One look at me and he thought I wanted to know about VA funeral benefits.

“Not quite yet,” I said, “first I want to know about these perpetual wars and the drones and the not drones.”

“I’m not sure I understand, sir,” he said.

I almost like to talk to soldiers in uniform as much as I like to exchange cheek kisses in Europe. They always make you feel like Eisenhower driving across Europe. Yes sir no sir. It’s great.

“Well, the Times had a story today that said if we keep using drones we could end up in a perpetual war. And I started thinking that we’ve been in perpetual war since World War II. What do you think? It’s clearly not the drones.” I said.

“Well, sir,” he started, “I have served this country in two wars and I can say we defend freedom wherever we are. We are not a warlike country. The United States is a peaceful nation. I don’t know how you could say we are warlike.”

“I don’t think I said we are warlike. I just said we’ve been involved in wars perpetually since World War II and drones have nothing to do with it.”

“Prove it.” he challenged.

I took a deep breath. “You really want me to?” I asked.

“Yes, sir, if you think you can, sir,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, “here’s how I see it. We’ve been at war perpetually since 1945. That was when World War II ended with a big bang. No, with two big bangs. Maybe you don’t remember that. Neither do I, but it was a bit of news you couldn’t miss in grade school, don’t you think?” I paused.

He looked at me.

“So,” I went on,” after 1945 was…we occupied Germany, Austria, and Japan until about 1955. Earlier we invaded South Korea and had the Korean war, which in theory we are still fighting since we’ve never made peace. Earlier also, in 1947, I think, we invaded Greece, and we invaded China for a brief time in 1949.

The Korean War kind of ended in 1953 with an armistice, and two years later, in 1955 we started the Vietnam War which lasted until 1964. In 1961 we tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, but they beat us. In 1962 we invaded Thailand, a war nobody seems to know about, maybe because we left so quickly. From 1962 to about 1974 we fought an undercover war in Laos.

From 1968 to about 1970 we bombed Laos and Cambodia. In 1976, the war in Vietnam was over allowing us to invade Lebanon for a while. In 1981 we landed troops in El Salvador, and later that year we shot down a bunch of Libyan jets who thought the air was free. From 1982 to 1983 we had a full force in Lebanon doing I know not what. In 1983 we conducted our famous Grenada war, invading a tiny Caribbean island so we could have doctors learn medicine in that fountainhead of medical knowledge. Starting in 1983 until 1989, we conducted military campaigns in Honduras. In 1986 we did a lot of bombing in Tripoli, Libya.

In 1987 to 1988 we mounted the largest naval operation since WWII, siding with one and then the other side in the Iran Iraq War. In 1988 we invaded Panama and took out their elected President…Should I go on?”

He was still just staring at me, as if I were just making this up.

“Okay,” I said, “we’re almost done anyway. Why don’t I finish???” He looked. “In 1990-1991 we had our Desert This and Desert That. A pretty big war. We flattened them. Because they essentially had 19th century arms and strategies. From 1992-1996, we were in Bosnia Herzegovina. From 1992 to 1995 we were in Somalia, and suffered tragic losses. From 1994-1995, we invaded Haiti, and I think we might be still there, but I’m not sure. Sometimes American troops can get lost in all these wars.

In 1996 we were in Kuwait again for Desert Strike. I doubt we ever had left.” He was yawning. This was clearly doing no good. But I was on a roll and I wanted to complete the sad story. “So, in 1999 we bombed Serbia like crazy. That got rid of a lot of excess armaments which were screwing up some of our bookkeeping. As you know starting in 2003 and lasting until about 2011, we invaded Iraq. Some want to go back. You know, the good old days. But that’s almost it, if you can be patient.” He was squirming. “In 2011 we killed a whole lot of Libyans, and got rid of their crazy leader, his children, wife, family, friends and Libya has been free ever since. That’s about it. We’re still in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as you know, and it looks like we now are going into Syria. What do you think?” I decided to wait for some kind of an answer.

It was clear I wasn’t getting one. He looked like he was close to tears. “Sir,” I said, “Are you okay?”

He straightened up and said, “Oh, yes, I was just wondering how you could remember all this information. Did you make it up as you went on, sir?”

“You really don’t believe me?” I asked.

“Not until Hell freezes over, sir,” he said, “The United States is my country. I would not speak ill of it.”

“Even if it were conducting a perpetual war?” I asked.

“Sir, whatever the United States does is right, it’s as simple as that.” he said.

I wished he were right about that but he clearly wasn’t. I still had to get this drone thing down, so I said good by, we both saluted although he eyed mine with a certain skepticism, and I went up to a think tank on the upper west side.

“What’s with these drones,” I asked, when they let me in. I almost saluted until I realized that these were not the people who fight the wars. These are the people who invent the wars. They don’t salute, but I’m not sure what they do.

“What do you mean?” asked the director.

The Times said drones could lead to a perpetual war. But we’ve been in perpetual war since World War II at least.” I said.

“You’re right about that,” he said, smiling, “most people don’t realize how warlike we’ve been.”

“I think you’re right. But what about the drones?” I asked.

“Well, it’s like this,” he said, “with drones you can attack with no losses. It’s very tempting. There’s never been an instrument of war that is so safe. You send the drone out, many miles, hundreds, even thousands, from your home, and you kill some one or ones. The drone can get back or not, it’s really quite irrelevant. That kind of war involves few costs, except economic, and could be very tempting to all sorts of countries, our adversaries and many others. Thus, perpetual war. Not a good future.”

“But people are going to use drones no matter what we do, because they are so, well, safe to use, I mean for the user.” I said.

“I’m afraid you may be right.” He said. “The funny thing is, nobody has ever studied whether using drones does any good. They just kill a few people for each strike. That’s not usually how wars are won.”

“Well, that’s for you think tank people to figure out. I want to know why we’re worried about drones when we already have perpetual war in the US.” I said.

“I think that’s pretty clear, as I said already,” he said, “The US is a very warlike country. I don’t know how it got that way, maybe it’s always been that way. Perpetual since World War II, did you say?”

“That’s how I read the figures,” I said.

“You’re probably right. But I’ll tell you what.”

“What?” I asked.

“If you dug deeper you might find it dates back even longer than you think. Probably dates back to 1776.”

“That’s scary.” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, “and that’s what we do here. We think about it. You don’t want to think about it. Go have an Icee.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said. I stopped at the 14th Street theater and snuck in just to buy a blue Icee. The world suddenly tasted better.


BY MARQUEL: American Continuity




  1. I’m speechless. Our peaceful country! Like the old British empire…That big empire though knew when to retire…

  2. Gruesome…Like some high school bully. I bet we think we are going to stay in high school forever and bully everybody forever…cannot happen.

  3. Marquel: I told you I stopped reading the Times…all I do is read you…Though, unlike the Times you are trying to educate your readers, and I have to tell you it is hard. It is hard for me…I assume for you too. Thanks.

  4. I liked this:

    “I almost like to talk to soldiers in uniform as much as I like to exchange cheek kisses in Europe. They always make you feel like Eisenhower driving across Europe. Yes sir no sir. It’s great.”

  5. I liked this:
    and the drone shaped like a soldier, that’s sure to scare the bad guys.

  6. Nice ending on top secret:

    “It’s like we’re all one family even with our differences. We all have secrets but everyone knows them so when they mention them, they whisper.” He nodded, stroking his beard. “Kind of like,” I continued, “a form of courtesy or good manners.”

    I left Ali, which his name turned out to be, and went home. I was late and tried to sneak in. Everyone ignored me but someone whispered, “he’s home.”

    Good night John Boy.


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