The quote above, “War is the Health of the State,” is that of Randolph Bourne, and it sums up my personal view of war. This has not always been the case.

I thought it appropriate to give a personal history of my views, to show how I was once like so many in my understanding of war, and to introduce some of the readings and thoughts that have led to my current perspective.

I was 7 years old when U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war was over, so I do not have many memories of that conflict. January 1991 marked the beginning of the Gulf War, and the beginning of my personal evolution.

I was 25 years old when the U.S. military launched Operation Desert Storm. I tuned in to CNN daily to gather all of the information that I could. I marveled at the footage and the commentary depicting surgical strikes, scud missile intercepts, bunker-busters, and bouncing betty’s.

While I’ve always taken issue with big government, I put aside my differences for the cause – war has a rallying effect. I didn’t know much about the history of the Middle East, but I listened intently to the talking heads and politicians as they explained who the villains were, who we were there to save, and how our presence was necessary. I remember the debate as to whether the U.S. should “police the world” and thought, perhaps, it was our reluctant role to keep the peace, fight the spread of tyranny, and promote liberty around the world. We were, after all, the world’s lone superpower after the fall of the Soviet Union.

I remember studying the rules of the draft, and learning that as a 25 year old, I would be late in line to have my number called up. Four months after the U.S. invasion, I would turn 26 and would be (mostly) clear of the draft. But my friends and I talked often about what it would take for us to get involved, as we were patriotic young men and believed in the cause of liberty. We weighed in on the questions of how long this war would go, to what degree it would escalate, how many countries would be involved, and who would be fighting whom, as the criteria for our involvement.

I cheered our troops on, and when the war was over I went to a t-shirt printing shop and had a shirt made with the U.S. flag emblazoned on the front, and radical looking letters shouting “Anybody Else Want Some?” written across the flag. It was a big hit when I wore it in public. The people were swelled with pride in a swift, decisive victory. All was well with the world; we had shed the demons of Vietnam, my country had shown that it can deliver justice in rapid fashion, and the war was over.

I was a war supporter.

Next entry: Part 2