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Thursday, August 25, 2005

If you cannot remember their names . . . 

I have my own Statue of Limitations for when an historical outrage should be answered with a derisive "get over it!"
I believe that history is Officially Over when it happened to relatives whose names you can no longer remember.
I thought of this again when I read Driftglass's hypothesis that Iraq is another example of the American tendency to fight the Civil War again and again:
. . . war always shows up brightly in the emotional spectrum, and certain wars – lost wars -- burn like the fire of a thousand suns. Some people (most notably and locally, certain Red State citizens) obsessively re-fight them over and over again, generation after generation. Losers forever stand on the neck of history, jumping up-and-down, demanding a do-over. And when the banner the losing side fought under was hateful and repulsive, the lies and delusions that the defeated use to radically revise and prettify a murderous history and ideology into a glorious and noble “Lost Cause” also get passed down, father to son, like hemophilia. So look at the brief and bloody history of Iraq and note that...
...it is a war began by a Southern President.
...it is a war began by rich men and fought by the poor.
...it is war sold to Americans as a Noble Cause.
...it is a war of pre-emption against a hated enemy that we were told we HAD to attack before it was too late.
...it is a war sold on the defense of our “way of life” rather than a specific, measurable, strategic objective.
And come the 2004 election -- an election was all about Iraq -- look how the nation split, right down the Mason-Dixon Line.
If this is correct, then the Civil War now falls well beyond my Statute of Limitations rule -- it happened to the great-great-great-great grandparents of the soldiers now in Iraq.
It may be surprising to our American friends, but many other countries in the world are actually somewhat ashamed of their wars -- war is usually just a failure of diplomacy and, even when successful, most people aren't very happy to have had to fight them. They blame them on their leaders, and often boot these leaders out of office as soon as they can once the war is over.
But Americans show a tendency to romanticize their wars, and Iraq is no exception. So maybe Driftglass is correct, that Iraq is just another metaphorical do-over. And if so, I would ask just how many people have to die so the good ole boys can whoop and holler? How high does the price of oil have to go and how far into the tank does the world economy have to sink before the do-over lust is satisfied? There's a limit to how many generations the world can continue to tolerate this egotistical self-indulgence.
America, get over it!

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