Fifty Years and Still the Unrelenting Drumbeat of War

The night was cold with a strong wind blowing in from the northwest. The nearly full waxing moon seemed to ride easily over the tops of the pine forest. A jet, with its lights still on, within minutes of taking off from the airport at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, flew westward against the departing day of sporadic snow showers that almost made the environment appear momentarily like what January ought to be like in the Northeast.

Twenty-four hours earlier, rumors of war and acts of war proliferated. So strange, that I was taken back in memory 50 years. Demonstrators in New Haven, (“May Day at Yale, 1970: Recollections,” WSHU, April 22, 2015) Connecticut had rallied that day, and Nixon had ordered massive troop air transports to the naval air station at nearby Quonset Point in Rhode Island to mass in case the New Haven demonstrations could not be contained.

Having just returned from basic and advanced training in the military, I got on the phone with my best friend from college, Joe, who had been in New Haven that day and we spoke as my bedroom shook from the flybys of the massive air transports overhead.

Back to today, I awoke startled at 4:00 AM. I could not go back to sleep and turned on the computer to learn that Iran had sent missiles into Iraq as an answer to the US assassination of Iranian General Suleimani.

Winter mornings before sunrise, here at 7:21, have a beauty all their own with a shade of an orchid sliver of light at the southeast horizon. My pup must have thought it strange to have his morning walk in the winter darkness before sunrise. But it didn’t matter, anything to distract from the insanity and the dance of death between Iran and the US. Sometimes a person has to keep moving just to stay sane.

As the day moved on, both nations seemed to pull back from the brink. The snow squalls continued sweeping in from the west, displaced by tenuous blue sky, snd then a return to winter squalls. It seemed as if the natural environment had taken the pulse of the madness of the last several days, no decades, and was sending its message in the swirling masses of cold white flakes.

The Guardian carried this conclusion from an article (“The Democrats Must become a real anti-war party,” January 10, 2020) about the need for Democrats to be an antiwar party:

Nothing requires less courage than letting yourself go along with a march towards war when you have the biggest military in the world. Show me a candidate willing to fight for peace, and I’ll show you the future.

History tells quite a different story of  Democrats who have run for president supporting war and/or war funding. Look to the failure of the antiwar candidacies of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern as Democrats who didn’t even get remotely close to the presidency. Eugene Debs ran as an antiwar candidate on the Socialist Party of America ticket and got 3.4% (in his 1920 bid from prison) of the vote in his last run for the presidency. There’s lots of money to be made from war and more power for the empire.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).