War, again. I've spent half the day listening to experts, pundits, radio callers both informed and otherwise, hosts that ranged the gamut from knowledgeable to, well, popular. I am glad of many things right now, chief among them that I am not a soldier who's spent the last 8 years watching the military turn into an underfunded group-therapy session (hilarious, if disheartening, article in the Wall Street Journal today, describing co-ed boot camp; the men are permitted to help the women over the obstacles that require upper body strength, but they can only touch them on the legs - regs prohibit giving them a shove on the glutes or the thighs.) I am also glad I am a typical ahistorical American. History! Who needs it? It's a pack of tricks played on the dead, written by the victors, and it's bunk, to quote Ford, Voltaire, and some other solon whose name escapes me. Not that I'm uninterested in history: on the contrary. But it doesn't breathe down my neck or press on my chest like earth in a deep grave. I have no desire to kill someone because their relative gave my relative a hangnail in 1037.
Easy for me to say, of course; I'm not scrabbling for a square yard of fertile liebensraum amidst a field of stones and salt. But even if I was, I'd like to think I would subscribe to RodneyKingism, and just get along. That requires that everyone else be equally inclined to live and let live, though, and that's never the case.
The flip side of cheery American ahistorical perspective, unfortunately, is believing you can solve intractable problems. We can pacify and secure Kosovo, just as we could have defeated and occupied North Vietnam. The cost, however, is great, and it immediately produces other problems that are worse. This is not going to be fun. It should, however, make the presidential election very, very interesting.
I Like this guy. His website is at: http://www.lileks.com .
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