Steve Chapman: Has Obama Cured Addiction to War?





Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board and blogs at chicagotribune.com/chapman.

Midway through his inaugural address, Barack Obama proclaimed, "A decade of war is now ending." A cynical listener might respond: "And a new decade of war is about to begin." Obama sounded pacific notes Monday. But it will be a huge surprise if he can get through four years without going to war.

Military force should not be a frequent recourse for our leaders. For the first century or so of the republic, it wasn't. Leaving aside the intermittent war against the Indians, wars were few and widely spaced.

Beginning with World War II, though, American presidents grew much more inclined to send our forces to fight in faraway places. The "Vietnam syndrome" supposedly cured that impulse. But it didn't last. Since 1989, University of Chicago scholar John Mearsheimer notes, we have been at war in two out of every three years. We are, in his words, "addicted to war."..



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