The Agenda

Brief Note on Veterans Day

Today we celebrate America’s war veterans, many of whom are my age or younger. 

The human cost of U.S. military interventions has been high. Casualty rates in Iraq and Afghanistan are thankfully far lower than what we saw during the Second World War and even the Vietnam era, yet there are nevertheless thousands of young Americans who will carry injuries, and difficult memories, with them for the rest of their lives. I’m grateful for their sacrifice, and I hope that future leaders, including women and men drawn from the ranks of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, keep this sacrifice in mind before committing U.S. troops to combat.

At the risk of sounding sentimental, I feel very grateful to have been born in this country. We tend to take our physical security for granted, but it’s not a given. My father’s brother died in a civil war in his native country that led to the deaths of over a million people, and virtually all of the (modest) material possessions of my mother’s family were ransacked in a wave of looting that occurred around the same time. Urdu-speaking Biharis were targeted in large numbers by a vengeful population. Children lost parents, and the disorder helped spark famine and the spread of disease. Let’s just say it was a grim and difficult time, particularly for small children like my sisters.

This experience instilled in both of my parents a certain measure of risk-aversion, but it also gave them a sense that whatever good fortune we enjoy can always evaporate. As Joseph Nye said years ago, security is like oxygen: we don’t notice it until we start losing it. Our military is the foundation of our security. That doesn’t mean the military should be immune to criticism or scrutiny — that would represent an abdication of our duties as citizens. But it is something to keep in mind when we reflect on the free and prosperous lives that we’re privileged to lead. 

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular

Elections

Wait, Joe Biden Picked That Kamala Harris?

Kamala Harris? Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris? Out of all of Biden's options, he chose the rival whose presidential campaign is best remembered for her attack on him, contending he opposed busing? The rival who said the way he described his relationship with old segregationists was “hurtful”! The woman ... Read More
Elections

Wait, Joe Biden Picked That Kamala Harris?

Kamala Harris? Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris? Out of all of Biden's options, he chose the rival whose presidential campaign is best remembered for her attack on him, contending he opposed busing? The rival who said the way he described his relationship with old segregationists was “hurtful”! The woman ... Read More
U.S.

Bloc Heads

Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More
U.S.

Bloc Heads

Welcome to The Tuesday, a cheery little weekly newsletter about the existential despair Irving Kristol indicated when he noted that Western civilization is collapsing “but it’ll take a long time, and, meanwhile, it’s still possible to live well.” The Bloc Party Right-leaning writers hawking books about ... Read More
Elections

Biden Plays the Catholic Card

In a speech in Ohio last week, President Trump remarked that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden aims to “take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment,” adding: “No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns.” Biden took umbrage at this rather ... Read More
Elections

Biden Plays the Catholic Card

In a speech in Ohio last week, President Trump remarked that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden aims to “take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment,” adding: “No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns.” Biden took umbrage at this rather ... Read More