The Quietest War by Kevin Baker Essay

**The Quietest War** by Kevin Baker asks if Americans have become so apathetic that the Iraq War is meaningless to them. He points out the America has been fighting this war for as long as World War II but that we have no interest in the outcome of this war. The article points out that the soldiers who fought in WW II are called the “Greatest Generation” and the war itself was “an unparalleled historical event”. Baker wonders why the Iraq War doesn’t conjure the same emotions on the home front as other conflicts in which Americans were involved.

Baker goes on to illustrated this point with various examples from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam. In each instance, the home front was waging its own battles for support or opposition to the war. Baker’s claim that Americans do not care about this war is founded in his observance that there are very few demonstrations on either side of the Iraq war and that it only exists on television. Essay In his article **The Quietest War**, Kevin Baker claims that the Iraq War doesn’t “engage” the American people as much as other conflicts have.

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Boldly, he states that Americans have “lost their souls” and in essence lost the war due to “how little we care”. Baker discusses past wars and their effect on the home front wondering why this war isn’t having the same effect. Although he points out that the “strange silence” may be due to “mixed feelings about the war”, he doesn’t delve into any other reasons for different reactions on the home front. Without noticing the obvious differences between this conflict and past ones the nation has fought, Baker’s argument is weak.

Baker spends a good part of his article illustrating how “Americans have rarely been as unified on the home front as we would like to believe” and listing various violent protests to the past wars. He seems nostalgic for the violent past of America’s war rallies. He brings up these episodes then goes on to write that Americans no longer care. Is he inferring that without violence in the streets, Americans can’t demonstrate their feelings? Does he give Americans no credit for evolving? for changing the way in which we deal with our feelings?

It seems that without public outcry and violence Mr. Baker thinks Americans are unable to voice their feelings. The article points out that Americans are united in their support for the troops, for the men and women who volunteered to join the armed forces. This is obvious from the magnetic ribbons on cars to elementary schools sending care packages. Americans are very patriotic in the support the fighting men and women. The noise Baker is looking for may not be in rallies or violence in the streets, but it is there just the same.

For the past four years the American air waves have been inundated with cries of “Bush lied” and “the war was a mistake. ” Just as Baker points out that Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie opposed war, current celebrities like Bill Maher and Rosie O’Donnell, will shout these lines of opposition to all who listen. The talking heads of MSNBC, CNN and Fox News will beg answers from anyone who appears on their programs. The debate seems endless. Imagine the American public’s ire if President Bush tried to oust congressmen for vocally opposing the war as Baker writes Woodrow Wilson did.

The past **2006** election was focused on the Iraq war and bringing the troops home. Many believe that because the Democratic party won the majority, the American public want the troops home. This lawful, safe, and public method of expressing our desires has little value to Baker. He ignores this adult means of achieving goals. Baker seems to assume that violence in the streets is the only way American can express what they want. There are many reasons Americans are treating this war differently from conflicts past. For example, for the past conflicts there was a draft.

This brought the danger of the war into nearly every household. Americans were strongly vested in the outcome, for it meant their son’s life. Every 18 year old male had to worry about being shipped out to war and every mother had to worry about losing their son. In the past, nearly everyone had someone they cared about in uniform fighting for freedom; even if it was just an entertainer or professional athlete. Today, thanks to our volunteer forces, high school seniors have the luxury of worrying about college entrance exams, careers, and dating.

Another reason Americans may not be as loud as Baker wants is the overwhelming political correctness of our time. During World War II, patriotic advertisements were seen in every magazine, newspaper and even at the movies. War bonds and liberty bonds were hawked on a daily basis. Cartoons mocked the Germans and the Japanese and Hollywood movies helped those at home understand the struggles of the fighting forces. Cartoons and movies told Americans how to feel. The enemy was clearly identified and easily hated. Today offending someone stops people from demonstrating.

The easy stereotypes of the past are not appropriate now. All Arabs are not the enemy. All Iraqis are not the enemy. The enemy doesn’t even wear a uniform to identify themselves and therefore the American public can’t easily see the enemy. Americans spoke their minds in the past election. Public figures still shout their opinions every chance they get, Bill O’Reily and Ann Coulter versus Rosie O’Donnell and Al Franken is prime time entertainment, Cindy Sheenan and many others are still protesting the war. Are there riots in the streets?

Thankfully, no. Have Americans lost their souls? No, Mr. Baker, we just grew up a bit. Reflection I wanted to go beyond what Baker writes in his article and express why American behavior is different in this war than it was in past conflicts. One of my strengths is my emotion. I think it’s clear that I disagree with the article’s claim that Americans have “lost our souls. ” I also tried to include many examples. My weakness is in my inability to choose a voice. Am I including myself when I speak of Americans or am I trying to stay unattached.

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