As the title suggests, Hedges pushes us all to think about what psychological benefits we may gain from war when we blind ourselves to its reality. “The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living” (3).Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondent for the New York Times before he quit after he was reprimanded by the paper for comments he made in a Rockford College graduation speech (see Wikipedia) in 2003. I find him one of the most insightful writers today. His years of experience as a foreign correspondent seem to give him insight in how the world works, that most Americans simply don't have. In the graduation speech he said,
This is especially true in the age of declining religious participation. As Hedges observes, “because we in modern society have walked away from institutions that stand outside the state to find moral guidance and spiritual direction, we turn to the state in times of war. The state and the institutions of the state become, for many, the center of worship in wartime” (146-147).
The seductive lure of violence is one he frankly acknowledges out of his own experience, but he presents it as more a product of human nature than individual failing. Sadly, like a drug that can never offer true satisfaction, “War never creates the security or the harmony we desire, especially the harmony we briefly attain during wartime” (22).
"We are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige and power and security."Eleven years later, thinking about all the lives lost, the soldiers who have come home broken in body and spirit - not to mention those that didn't come home - and our slipping status in the world, and our failing infrastructure from roads to education that got deferred in part because of the costs of war, and our Congressional gridlock, I don't think he was wrong. But in 2003 in America's heartland, no one wanted to hear what he was saying.