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A War That Will Hit Home

03.05.2007 04:24 | DISPATCHES

Attack Iran and the "homeland" won't know what hit it.

Remember the stories our parents or grandparents used to tell us about World War II? For those still stateside, goods such as meat, sugar, gasoline, and clothing were rationed. The manufacture of passenger cars was disconotinued because automobile plants were diverted to the war effort.

Also, in 1940, only ten percent of Americans were subject to federal withholding tax; by 1944 nearly all were. In fact, President Roosevelt even tried to impose a 100% (say what?) tax on incomes over $25,000. Needless to say, he was unsuccessful.

Americans might have grumbled, but in retrospect most cherish their memories of contributing to the war effort. Many joined the USO; others the Civil Air Patrol. And, of course, women migrated en masse to the work force for the first time.

Nothing like national sacrifice to bring us together as a people.

Since then little has been asked of Americans during wars. Perhaps that's because of how insubstantial the justifications for recent wars have been. Never mind calling for sacrifices, presidents and the Pentagon are just happy to have Americans tolerate their increasingly obscure missions.

When it came to our adventure in Iraq, never once did the President, despite the absence of the draft, issue a recruiting call. We may not have had to pay up front by surrendering our young in large number. But we've since been handed the bill –- talk about sticker shock.

Breaking down the itemized bill, the first line lists military deaths and injuries. On the second, our eyes gaze upon eternal revenge sworn by many in the Middle East. Third, we find out national debt, which continues to grow as if on human growth hormone.

As we move down the bill, we find that those on whom the cost is imposed grow increasingly younger. From young soldiers killed or hurt, to our children -- including the unborn -- who are not only subject to the threat of blowback, but will bear the burden of our burgeoning national deficits.

But that bill just crept up on us, like credit card debt. Spared the immediate effects of war on the home front, most of us were unconcerned about the prospect of war with Iraq, just as we are with Iran now. Besides, it will just be bombing raids as with Kosovo or, initially, Iraq, right?

Not exactly. Americans need to understand that an attack on Iran would likely impact the continental USA more profoundly than World War II. For a more accurate comparison we need to revisit the War of 1812.

Almost two hundred years ago, the British not only blockaded American ports, devastating the American agricultural export business, but occupied part of Maine. Most damaging to America's fragile young ego, the British burned public buildings in Washington including the White House.

The terrorism an attack on Iran might incur may well wreak havoc on American soil. But the inevitable disruption of oil flow in the Persian Gulf will cause us even more heartache. The prices of fuel and gasoline will skyrocket, shuttering American businesses, jettisoning jobs. In fact, Depression-era unemployoment (25%) is a distinct possibility.

If you believe that an attack is the only way to stop Iran from nuking us a decade from now, fine. If you're willing to jeopardize your present-day ability to feed your family for your convictions, more power to you. You're a better man than I.


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