AS THEY SAY IN THE INFORMERCIAL TRADE, ”BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!”
If you are a regular reader of THE LIB, you are probably well aware of my fondness for the works of America’s most often quoted philosopher, George Santayana. Santayana’s most famous quotation is also probably the one that is usually misquoted. So, I begin this commentary on the world of another George, George W. Bush, with a proper reading of Santayana. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The problem with remembering the past is that you probably had to have an active part in that past to remember it. And the problem with George W. Bush is that he was so busy being AWOL during the Vietnam era that he had little or no experience with the actual doings of the day.
That is the irony of the President’s recent trip to Vietnam. You see, although Vietnam is still a nominally communist country, like most other countries that are still practicing communism, the Vietnamese are slowly but surely becoming capitalists.
Companies on the level of the International Textile Group and Canon are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into manufacturing plants in Vietnam. The population of the country is more and more industrialized and less and less agrarian. Things have really changed since we left. The predictions were that once Vietnam fell to the communists, there would be chaos. Quite to the contrary, there has been order and sanity there since the Americans are no longer making war on them.
Then there is the case of Poland and Russia, two former communist countries. For years, the United States was engaged in a “cold” war with the communist block. As time went on, communism began to collapse, and, one by one, like dominoes, the communist block evaporated leaving Eastern Europe open to our way of life.
The lesson of history is that we do not necessarily need to be proactive to make change happen. We can work from behind the scenes, as we were alleged to have done in the communist bloc, or we can simply ignore the situation, as we did in Vietnam after our war effort there ended. Either way, the goals we sought to attain eventually came to pass.
We are operating in a capricious manner today in Iraq, and we are threatening to extend that conflict to Iran. By doing so, we are ignoring the lessons of the past, something about which we were firmly warned by George Santayana over a century ago.
As they say in the infomercial trade, ” But wait, there’s more!”
We are not only ignoring the past. Somehow we are ignoring the voices on all sides of the issue that are telling us that we are wrong. Their opinions of the way to end the problem may differ, but, to a man, they agree that we are pursuing our misadventure in Iraq in a wrong-minded manner.
Republican presidential hopeful, Senator John McCain believes that the only way out is to commit overwhelming force to winning. He is, of course, ignoring the fact that we do not have that kind of manpower available in our military, but the rhetoric certainly sounds good.
Former Nixon Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, clearly stated that we cannot win this war, and that we are fools for continuing to pursue unreachable goals.
Senator Hillary Clinton, another presidential contender, is demanding a timetable for withdrawal.
As the King of Siam might have put it, etcetera, etcetera and so forth.
And all of that does not take into consideration the message firmly delivered to this rogue administration by the electorate only a few short weeks ago. Americans are tired of seeing their young people shipped overseas for a war that obviously can’t be won and a cause that is no longer just, if ever it was a just cause.
As the Vietnam War was drawing to its inevitable end, an embarrassing loss for America, it was the American people that let the folks in charge know that it was time to go. A later generation of those Americans is giving the same message to the Bush Administration that they gave to previous Republican leaders intent on pursuing a war for which the American people no longer had the stomach.
One would think that the lessons of the past would have spurred this administration to heed that message.
One would think, that is, if there were any other administration occupying the seat of power in this country. However, given who the current president is, and the nature of his advisors, one, I suppose, would have to think twice before ascribing any logical thought process to those occupying the White House.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What a noble and sensible concept. Sadly, the Bush Administration is neither noble nor sensible, making such concepts difficult for them to grasp.
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT