Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Annan Jensen: What war?

Last night I ate an avocado. In Northern California. In midwinter.

Because it came from Chile, that avocado might be enough to get me kicked out of the Locavore movement of people who pledge to eat only what originates within 100 miles, but it was worth it, because it was the last straw in a growing pile of evidence that the United States is not at war, no matter what the government says.

Here's war:

  • You save your food cans and flatten them to contribute to the war effort.

  • You drain bacon grease into a container and contribute that to the war effort. (That is, if you have any ration stamps for bacon, and if your neighborhood grocery store has any bacon.)

  • Your backyard is a garden, a Victory Garden, where you grow food all summer and spend the harvest season preserving it for winter eating.

  • All the adults in your family who are not in military service pool their ration stamps for food and gas, and are very frugal about trips. Mostly they take the city bus.

  • As a child of the greatest generation, you send off for a Captain Midnight plane spotter chart so you can watch the skies after school. And you feel pleased that your presence in the family provides extra milk rations for the grown-ups' tea.

Some other evidence:

  • Gas may cost more than three dollars a gallon, but we can buy as much as we want or can afford. Our military airplanes must use some other kind of fuel these days, and I suppose whatever vehicle transported that avocado to my supermarket has found the same mystery fuel.

  • Nobody has suggested that I put blackout curtains on my windows, or asked me to walk around the neighborhood in the evening to make sure other people have their windows darkened against air raids.

  • I can stay out as late as I want without carrying identification papers or documents to prove I have a good reason to be out.

  • Last month, I flew to Miami for a pleasure trip. I didn't need any government permission to travel, and the plane was not full of military folks.

  • If I want to, I can take a cruise to just about anywhere in the world. In fact, that would be downright patriotic, because my government keeps telling me that if I stop shopping and traveling the terrorists will win.

Getting old doesn't have a great deal to recommend it, but getting old with a good memory raises some fascinating questions. How can we be at war without needing civilian support? Why isn't this war pumping money into our economy? Where are the factory jobs? Where is Rosie the Riveter? Who's building all the military stuff, and where are they building it?


And I keep coming back to the same answer: This Iraq adventure is not a war. Heaven only knows what it is.

Now that you mention it, I am entertaining some doubts about the 1969 moon landing. Thanks for asking.


Sophie Annan Jensen lives in Lucerne.



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