…nothing makes me angrier. It started with the Geneva Convention.  Remember when we learned about it in school, and we were taught that promoting it made us the good guys? No Japanese death marches for us, no using civilians as hostages like the North Vietnamese guerillas did. I’ve always said that if the American people were ever foolish enough to elect me President my first act in office would be to disavow it as misguided hypocrisy. For my second act, I might as well quit, because nothing else I did could top that.

Remember, too, how we were propagandized in the 70s? People fleeing to Canada were branded traitors and anti-war protestors were called Communist sympathizers and worse. People who did everything possible to avoid the draft were labeled cowards and part of a subversive political movement, but there was a deep, dark secret the media never mentioned. Anyone who knew someone who returned from Vietnam heard about the snake-infested jungles, the terror-induced heroin addiction, and the enemy who owned the night (thanks, Billy Joel). If we’d been defending our homeland, that might have been okay, but we weren’t. Under the circumstances, any sane person would have avoided all that at any cost.

If we educated our children honestly about the true nature of war very few of them would be willing to go off to fight.  I hope that was what Steven Spielberg was thinking when he made The War Horse. When I heard that it was billed as a Christmas movie, I had two thoughts.  Maybe it was a remake of Lassie Come Home starring a horse, but seeing the trailer disabused me of that idea. Why, I asked, would anyone spend Christmas with his family watching a horse charge across a battlefield of blood-soaked mud dodging bullets and artillery shells.  And don’t forget the barbed wire. Yes, it was about honor and courage and loyalty, and there was some real movie magic in the performance of that wonderful horse. It rose above its ordeals, and all the people who dealt with it showed that as awful as the war was, it hadn’t dehumanized them, but to me, the film was more obscene than anything rated X.

Anyone who paid attention in school knows the brutal horror of World War I, but The War Horse added a new dimension to it. The sight of a landscape littered with horses who had been worked to death, then shot and left there to rot, was appalling. It overshadowed the bravery and determination of humans and animals alike. It was awful. I almost walked out at that point, but then, I thought — NO. Everyone should take their children to see The War Horse again and again. Those children would never be willing to fight in someone else’s war.