Veterans’ Day

On this day in 1918, at 11:11 a.m., the armistice ending the Great War, the war to end all wars, came into effect. The Great War was later called the First World War; of course it wasn’t the war to end all wars, and indeed many historians now argue that the seeds for the Second World War were contained in that armistice agreement that was signed on this date 97 years ago.

On this Veterans’ Day, or Armistice Day as it used to be called, the United States remains at war in Afghanistan, in the longest war of our country’s history. The financial effects of this, the most costly war the United States has ever fought, will be with us for decades, as we try to recover from spending half a trillion dollars and counting. More importantly, the human effects of this war — the returning soldiers who are crippled in body or soul, the soldiers who don’t return — will haunt us for decades. And it is an open question whether the war’s still rising cost, and our citizenry’s unwillingness to make any sacrifices to help pay for the war, will prevent us from providing adequate ongoing care for returned soldiers who need care.

All this causes me to believe that the primary moral characteristic of U.S. politics today is a dreadful unwillingness to take responsibility for our decisions and actions. That’s a depressing thought on Veterans’ Day.