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Last night I turned away from the BBC World News for a second – I missed the opening credit – and when I came back I had one of those horrible moments of confusion. No, I thought, this isn’t today’s news from Iraq. These are yesterday’s headline. The TiVo messed up.

No. Nothing went wrong. The machine worked just fine. But that’s all. The news of constant attacks, deaths, bombings, killings and maiming, is getting repetitious. And that’s chilling. Like America’s last “livingroom war,” it’s hard to tell one day from the next. It’s a parade of camouflage and guns. The BBC said last night – Tuesday, April 27 – that 115 Americans had died in Iraq this month alone. That’s as many as were killed before Bush popped up off the coast of San Diego and declared “Mission Accomplished.”
A few days ago, The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Pink,’ its weekly entertainment section ran a column written in 1971 by Arthur Hoppe. Along with Garry Trudeau’s once eternally pugnacious B.D. lying on a gurney missing part of his left leg, it’s the saddest thing I’ve read during this whole mess. Hoppe’s piece “To Root Against Your Country,” is, of course, about Vietnam, the war that’s haunting this new equally divisive conflict. As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.
Republicans and some moderate Democrats have long argued that this nation’s namby-pamby here-today-gone-tomorrow foreign policy was inappropriately overshadowed by Democrat’s fear of another Vietnam. It’s always been a roundabout way of calling Democrats chickens, scoring points with the “America First” crowd.
But the shadow of Vietnam is long and it’s thrown in both directions. In their attempt to overcome what they see as a lack of determination and courage, this administration has gone too far in the other direction, working off fear of fear and a preverse fear of being seen as fearful. The result isn’t the same – staying out of the war would have saved many, many American lives. But the knee-jerk has the same source, one that – when the silly election year arguments over medals thrown or kept and National Guard service done or avoided dies down – ought to cause everyone, on every side to sit down and think. Hard. Hoppe, who died four yeas ago, was right; it’s a terrible thing to root against your country. But it’s a more terrible thing to accept its failings without any kind of reflection or contemplation.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:13 AM | Permalink

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