In times of war, U.S. presidents have often talked about yearning for peace. But the last decade has brought a gradual shift in the rhetorical zeitgeist while a tacit assumption has taken hold -- war must go on, one way or another.
“I am continuing and I am increasing the search for every possible path to peace,” Lyndon Johnson said while escalating the Vietnam War. In early 1991, the first President Bush offered the public this convolution: “Even as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of peace, not war.” More than a decade later, George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress: “We seek peace. We strive for peace.”
While absurdly hypocritical, such claims mouthed the idea that the USA need not be at war 24/7/365.
But these days, peace gets less oratorical juice. In this era, after all, the amorphous foe known as “terror” will never surrender.