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Andrew Bacevich writes in Tom’s Dispatch about how the Boomer Generation mythos has affected US policy making for much of recent history.

 

“In Washington, policymakers have shown little inclination to consider the possibility that the United States itself might be guilty of doing evil. In effect, the virtuous intentions implicit in “Never Again” inoculated the United States against the virus to which ordinary nations were susceptible. V-E Day seemingly affirmed that America was anything but ordinary.

Here, then, we arrive at one explanation for the predicament in which the United States now finds itself. In a recent article in the New York Times, journalist Katrin Bennhold wondered how it could be that, when it came to dealing with Covid-19, “the country that defeated fascism in Europe 75 years ago” now finds itself “doing a worse job protecting its citizens than many autocracies and democracies” globally.

Yet it might just be that events that occurred 75 years ago in Europe no longer have much bearing on the present. The country that defeated Hitler’s version of fascism (albeit with considerable help from others) has since allowed its preoccupation with fascists, quasi-fascists, and other ne’er-do-wells to serve as an excuse for letting other things slip, particularly here in the homeland.

The United States is fully capable of protecting its citizens. Yet what the present pandemic drives home is this: doing so, while also creating an environment in which all citizens can flourish, is going to require a radical revision of what we still, however inaccurately, call “national security” priorities. This does not mean turning a blind eye to mass murder. Yet the militarization of U.S. policy that occurred in the wake of V-E Day has for too long distracted attention from more pressing matters, not least among them creating a way of life that is equitable and sustainable. This perversion of priorities must now cease.

So, yes, let’s mark this V-E Day anniversary with all due solemnity. Yet 75 years after the collapse of the Third Reich, the challenge facing the United States is not “Never Again.” It’s “What Now?”

For the moment at least, Tom and I are still around. Yet “our times” — the period that began when World War II ended — have run their course. The “new times” upon which the nation has now embarked will pose their own distinctive challenges, as the Covid-19 pandemic makes unmistakably clear. Addressing those challenges will require leaders able to free themselves from a past that has become increasingly irrelevant.”

 

Will this latest pandemic foster a new set of priorities across the globe?  Many people would like to think so, but I think they underestimate the potency of the current establishment and how entrenched they are in the societal disequilibrium they have created.  I most certainly do hope for a new normal, but I’m not optimistic about it actually coming to fruition.

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