I initially had this thought as I was walking out of Captain America earlier this summer, and let it sit for a while - to the point that it almost became irrelevant because the movie had been out for too long. This weekend's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks makes it kinda relevant again, so here we go! Don't worry if you haven't seen the film, what I'm about to mention is in the first 10 minutes of the film and doesn't go anywhere near spoiler territory.
One of the first scenes of the film is Steve Rogers sitting in a theatre as the newsreels play before the movie - if you've never seen one of these, there's an example here - and in that old-timey style, they talk about the home front and how everyone's gotta pitch in make sacrifices... Little Timmy hunting for scrap metal and all that jazz.
I looked at that, and I thought about the sacrifices asked of the American people through the War on Terror, and I wondered if anything even remotely comparable was asked of the American people this time around? I remember the priority just being that everyone had to keep spending money. Hell, they even pushed through big tax cuts to encourage that, with no concern over going into deficit to fund the war effort.
It goes without saying that the two are completely different kinds of conflict, but both were sold as existential threats to the continued existence of the USA. Outside of those who've lost loved ones or serve in the armed forces, I wonder how many Americans feel like they've done anything to directly contribute to America's success in this war, the way people rationing gas or foraging for scrap metal during WWII almost certainly did.
Considering that the US has now been in Iraq for longer than it was in both WWI and WWII combined at this point (even longer in Afghanistan), it just begs the question: Is war really hell if "doing your part" means buying a 50" flatscreen and a new couch? How much can people be expected to demand a swift and conclusive resolution to military engagement when it's not really having an impact on their day to day life?
Just a thought.