I stumbled upon the song “Conquistador” today and was stunned by the parallels between Procol Harum’s lyrical references to the Vietnam War and current US military actions.

How many decisive victories can the United States claim since WWII?  The only clear success I can think of was the invasion of Grenada in 1983 to protect and evacuate American medical students after a military coup.  We were in Grenada for a total of 52 days.  Our forces invaded, did their job, and then left.  

“Conquistador, a vulture sits upon your silver shield”

Compare and contrast this operation with the myriad places our soldiers are now installed.  The word “victory” doesn’t exist in the current political lexicon because it is not the objective.  Corruption, greed, and a lust for power and influence are the deciding factors in the deployment of our troops, and thus the once magnificent American eagle has devolved into a brooding, dark, and gruesome symbol of the intent to sacrifice our serving men and women for both personal and political profit.  

“You reek of purity”

From improvements in agriculture and medicine, to the development of technologies that could take us to the Moon and back, America has led the way in innovation, discovery, and invention.  Although poverty, sickness, and hunger have not been eliminated, we have shared much of this knowledge with the rest of the world and many people have benefited.  

But America has fallen from grace with her virtues replaced by a learned helplessness.  Do you need proof?  Just look at news stories detailing everything from flash mobs and naked lawmakers, to little old ladies being assaulted by the TSA.  We tolerate these and many more dysfunctional behaviors because of expedience, and in so doing have become complicit in the degradation of our nation.

“And though you came with sword held high,
You did not conquer, only die.”

Our choices now are severely limited.  

The United States could become a “Logan’s Run” socialistic state, or we could turn towards a dangerous nationalistic fascism like Germany did during the Great Depression.  

The sanest approach would be to vote out all representatives who do not value America’s people, the Constitution, and the freedoms we have enjoyed under its umbrella.  This would be the most difficult choice in the short term, for we will have to tackle our national and personal debts head-on.  Austerity will be the order of the things for many years.  Soldiers will need to return from places not directly vital to our national interests.  Corruption must be exposed and routed from every official’s office.  Freedoms will have to be returned to the people, while odious job and innovation-suppressing governmental regulations must be eliminated.

Can we do it?  Of course, we can.  Will we do it?  That remains to be seen.  The Americans of yesteryear were never daunted by hard work or personal sacrifice.  I sincerely hope we have enough left of their pioneering spirit to effect the necessary changes not only in government, but also in ourselves.