A Man with a Flashlight


Small war, big fear

Two former Reagan appointees notice an odd difference between today’s Permanent Emergency (popularly labeled the War on Terror) and World War Two and Vietnam:

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

I have seen remarkably little discussion of how this happened. In fact I cannot, at the moment, recall reading a single explanation of why, after shouldering the bitter weight of World War Two with such aplomb, and maintaining our principles, if not our winning streak, in Vietnam – what caused us to lose our nerve now, and to condone such desperate, doomed solutions from our President?

Are we simply spoiled? Has sixty years of wealth and comfort made us so desperate to avoid a fight that we will give up honor, if only we can buy a little more time, and be saved from death?

That is Bush’s bargain: betray the principles of our fathers, and I will give you safety from death. Let those take it who will, but forgive me if I don’t have the stomach for it.

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“That is Bush’s bargain: betray the principles of our fathers, and I will give you safety from death. Let those take it who will, but forgive me if I don’t have the stomach for it.”
As much as I hate to admit it, Mr. Bush’s and Congress’ policies have largely worked. But just as we do not give credit solely to Mr. Bush, that we have not seen a second major domestic terrorist attack, let’s not reserve the blame for just Bush either. Sen. Obama, Clinton and most others (aside from Kucinich) voted for the PATRIOT Act. They are part of the machine as well–part of this collective, corrupt bargain.

Comment by David Lamb




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