Chris Hedges wrote a book 10 years ago called War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning about how Americans weren't happy unless they were fighting something or someone.
More than a flippant observation, it's a lens in which to view all of American history.
Even before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, American settlers were a fighting folk, taking on the native population and then the French, the Spanish, the Mexicans and the British.
After their Civil War, the United States took their fighting globally, except for some mop up work with native Americans, culminating in the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Historian Niall Ferguson chronicled the entire 20th century as one long global conflict in his fantastic book The War of the World and it's no coincidence that an entire century of fighting would coincide with the rise of the American empire.
So it comes as a rather huge surprise that Mitt Romney, in accepting the Republican Party's nomination for president, made no mention of war, except to mention that he was born shortly after the Second World War.
According to the Associated Press, Romney was the first Republican presidential nominee to not make a political statement about war in his acceptance speech since 1952. The Republican who didn't mention it in 1952 was Dwight Eisenhower, one of the most famous Second World War generals, who went on to serve two terms as president. It was the height of the Korean War but Eisenhower hardly needed to explain his stance on war to his party or his country.
Despite the fact the United States is still actively fighting a war today in Afghanistan with 79,000 troops still stationed there, war and the military has lost its central role in the contemporary American story. Clint Eastwood, in his comedic warmup act to Romney, went so far as to urge President Barack Obama to bring home all of the American soldiers in Iraq. The comment was greeted with cheers. If he had said that four years ago on the same stage, with soldiers still in Iraq as well, he would have been booed all the way back to Hollywood.
There was a time when it was difficult for a man who hadn't demonstrated leadership in the military and on the battlefield to get elected president of the United States. After all, how could such a man assume the role of Commander-In-Chief and order fellow Americans into harm's way without first having put his own life at risk for his country?
Times have changed quickly.
For the first time since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president at the nadir of the Great Depression, the presidential and vice-presidential nominee from both the Republican and Democratic Party has not served a single minute in the Armed Forces.
More traditional Republicans noticed Romney made no mention of the soldiers in Afghanistan or the role of America's military as a global peacemaker. Several criticized him for at least not tipping his hat to them in respect but from a political standpoint, he didn't need to.
Members of the Armed Forces traditionally vote Republican, anyway, and Romney's speech was less to the party delegates gathered in Tampa as it was to Americans dissatisfied with four years of Obama and wondering if this rich Mormon might be able to do better.
America watchers have been predicting for 40 years that the U.S. is about to go into an isolationist mode and keep its troops home, regardless of the international crisis, but it never seems to happen and it's unlikely to start under a second Obama term or a Romney administration.
Obama, after all, will go down in history as the president who increased the number of soldiers in Afghanistan and the number of drone strikes in Pakistan. He also ordered the military operation into Pakistan that dealt with Osama bin Laden once and for all.
Speaking of bin Laden, he also predicted the U.S. would retreat to its borders if someone would give it a bleeding nose. That was the logic behind the 9/11 attacks and that didn't work out so well for him personally and for global jihad in general.
Obama has promised to bring home the troops from Afghanistan in 2014 and Romney has said nothing to indicate he will change that timeline.
But that just frees up the U.S. to intervene in Syria or the next hot spot in need of a regime change.
Americans may no longer have the appetite for long, bloody wars but that doesn't mean they've lost their interest in fighting.
-- Managing editor Neil Godbout