Thus war has been with us and will likely be with for some time.
In his book From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, Pankaj Mishra writes about "the revenge of the East." This is what we're living through right now. The rise of anti-US sentiment in elements like ISIS in Iraq are one extremely angry and violent instances of this. As Mishra puts it, "the spell of western power has finally been broken." The aging Senator McCain, a man who suffered at the hands of the Vietnamese he bombed, may rattle his saber and decry the weakness of the current president, but what McCain is really upset about is that, after being squandered in Iraq and Afghanistan, the spell of US power has lost a lot of its shock and awe.
Fear is real in America; everyone feels it. They know, with the economy weak, the nation can't afford to keep hosing out trillions (that's with a T!) in resources to keep the image of the US strong and absolute in a military sense. People know in their hearts it can't go on. What about the infrastructural, educational, environmental and economic crises all approaching disaster levels on the homefront? If you look at it from the correct angle, it's a classic tragedy unfolding: A nation so full of its own top-down, narcissistic glory that it can't find the humility to do what it must to re-structure itself as a modestly downsized, healthy nation facing the future and "the rise of the rest." With more humility and more of a cooperative international spirit, the USA would become much less of an international target.
Two good examples. There's a fine group called Warrior Writers that works this field. They have published several anthologies. The Yellow Birds was Philadelphia's annual One Book, One Philadelphia entry this year. It was read all over the city and discussed in countless libraries and other venues.
Yellow Birds author Kevin Powers calls his novel "the cartography of one man's consciousness." It's the story of two young soldiers in Iraq trying to make sense of the experience on the ground and later back home. One of them suffers a harsh disillusion, even loses his mental bearings to the point he crosses the wire to wander naked among mystified Iraqis. Power's first-person narrator and the other characters are all complex human beings before they are heroes or warriors. We would benefit as a culture by hearing more complex voices like these. To counter all the pro-war madness, we need to hear men and women tell their stories of disillusion with war. It's part of a long and honorable American tradition. Here's one of my favorite poems of disillusion from Vietnam by W.D. Ehrhart. It's called "Making the Children Behave."
in those Asian villages
where nothing ever seemed
and my few grim friends
moving through them
When they tell stories to their children
of the evil
that awaits misbehavior,
is it me they conjure?