Thursday, January 11, 2007

Learn from history

"Few generations in all of history have been granted the role of being the great defender of freedom in its maximum hour of danger. This is our good fortune..."
- John F. Kennedy

"The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation."
- George W. Bush

Our President gave his grandiose speech last night, proving that he still hasn't learned the lessons of Vietnam. Of course, we live in a country that hasn't been taught those lessons, much less acknowledged them in only the most sugared down entertainment formulas (music, movies). When the Japanese lost World War II and their atrocities came to light, generations were brought up learning of their affronts on humanity through their public school history classes. In 1981, when I took an advanced history class in a public school, Vietnam was left off of the curriculum. I had to make up for it on my own time.

Robert Fisk prefers a comparison to Napoleon's efforts, but offers this useful quote from Pat Buchanan from 2003 on the eve of the Iraqi invasion:

"We will soon launch an imperial war on Iraq with all the 'On to Berlin' bravado with which French poilus and British tommies marched in August 1914. But this invasion will not be the cakewalk neoconservatives predict ... For a militant Islam that holds in thrall scores of millions of true believers will never accept George Bush dictating the destiny of the Islamic world ...

"The one endeavour at which Islamic peoples excel is expelling imperial powers by terror and guerrilla war. They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon... We have started up the road to empire and over the next hill we will meet those who went before."

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