“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” - George Santayana
I had a dream that I was attending a conference back in the day when I was a grad student at the University of Minnesota in the ‘60s. The major speaker was Dean Rusk, the US Secretary of State in the JFK and LBJ administrations.
As the panel discussion on the Vietnam War broke up, a rump conversation began with Rusk trying to get beyond the platitudes and talking points on both sides of the issue which framed the debate in that era.
I asked Rusk a simple question – “what if we can’t win their hearts and minds, how do we save ourselves?” Rusk had no answer, he simply dissolved into a catatonic fit of inarticulate mumble jumble, upon which the rump session ended.
My dream was of course purely hypothetical but I participated in a discussion of this type with Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1968 at the University of Minnesota with a small group of fellow political science grad students.
Given the horrific scenes in Iraq as the jihadists from ISIS move toward Baghdad, this question haunts me. How would President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry answer this question as Iraq disintegrates? How do the architects of the Iraq War in the Bush administration sleep at night?
How does one reconcile the sacrifices of the "allied" troops on the ground with what's happening now?
GOP war hawks are arguing that Barack "lost" Iraq just like their predecessors ranted about the D's losing China or Vietnam back in the day. Such revisionist history overlooks the fact that in all three cases endemic corruption from the top down fueled the failure of American foreign policy.
So what should you and I do, just ignore the bloodshead? Maybe my dream was just caused by eating too much on Father's Day!
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." - William Butler Yeats