Another pause in my article about modernism. Provoked by an item in the news from long ago....
From the September 4th, 1967 edition of the New York Times.
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times (9/4/1967: p. 2)
WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.
The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. The hope here is that the new government will be able to maneuver with a confidence and legitimacy long lacking in South Vietnamese politics. That hope could have been dashed either by a small turnout, indicating widespread scorn or a lack of interest in constitutional development, or by the Vietcong's disruption of the balloting.
I have longed for someone in the cowed media to start making parallels with Vietnam. To my knowledge, nobody else has publicly made a parallel between the faux pretext of WMD and the eerily similar Tonkin Gulf Incident. (I offer this comparison at http://www.davidbrin.com/realculturewar1.html
Above all, I am amazed that nobody stops to ask the simplest of questions. "If you were an enemy of America, looking at history, what would you see as the best way to damage us?"
Answer: "The ONLY thing that has come close to damaging America's confidence, cohesion, confidence and economy during the last century was an impulsive, ideologically obstinate and stupidly mishandled land war in Asia." (Exactly what Ike warned us never to do.)
Let us be clear. Osama Bin Laden's overall plan was NOT simply to topple two buildings in New York, but to lure us into the killing field where he had his glory days against the Russians. He imagined humbling yet another superpower in the dusty mountains of Afghanistan.
Alas, for him, and to Osama's amazement, America proved resilient. We went to Afghanistan - (executing plans and preparations made by the Clinton Administration) - and proceeded to competently root out the Taliban, doing it at low cost, with few casualties. The first outsiders to succeed in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great. Both Bush & Clinton deserve grudging credit. And yes, the outcome is imperfect. But it's astonishing, nonetheless. America is very impressive and our enemies keep underestimating us.
No, the Afghanistan Gambit wasn't enough. The ultimate planners of 9/11 came to realise that it would take a bigger, more deeply stupid land war in Asia to repeat the damage done to our society by Vietnam. The sheiks fired Bin Laden as their surrogate and instead gave a certain influential DC power broker her instructions. Use any and every excuse to get America mired in Iraq.
(Can you come up with a single aspect of the Iraqi quagmire that does not serve Saudi interests? Iraqi oil production plummets. That nation is crippled. Our armed forces are being ground down, with readiness plummeting to pre Pearl Harbor levels. Our nation hasn't been so divided since 1968. And each evening's news footage on Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, viewed from Morocco to Mindanao, serves as an hour-long informercial for pan-Islamic Jihad.)
And now there have been elections.
Frankly, I am torn. There is the immature temptation to welcome each day's bad news as proof that we were right. NOT to oppose toppling Saddam. (The record shows that I have always been in favor of toppling Saddam... intelligently.) But to oppose toppling him stupidly, with relentless deceit and divisiveness, leaving the Western Alliance and American civil society both in shambles.
Yes, schaedenfeude is tempting. But ultimately, I must choose to root for success. Despite loathing our leaders, I must... I must... hope and pray that this will NOT be another Vietnam in the long run. I would much rather swallow bile and see President Bush succeed in his proclaimed goal of creating a democracy in Iraq. (Even though I do not think it is the goal of those calling the shots.)
It's called maturity. And patriotism.
And it could happen, because there is a fourth party to all of this -- the hundreds of thousands of American professionals who do not take their orders from sheiks and petro-princes. They believe that spreading democracy really is the reason that we went there. And they may turn the excuse into reality.
The sheiks may be surprised by the competence of our soldiers and statesmen and aid workers, most of whom ARE trying hard to do this ambitious deed, despite horrifying levels of corruption and stupidity at the top. In other words, those who sent us into this trap, ensuring that we committed every mistake, may be shocked if... when (?) ... we pull off another miracle.
We must prepare for both eventualities. If this trap truly does repeat every insanity of Vietnam, we must prepare to save our nation. And if, on the other hand, American competence astonishes the world yet again, we must not let our suspicions blind ourselves to the fact that a somewhat democratic and free Iraq would be a good thing, whoever brings it about... and whether that was really their intent all along.
Right now, my chief worry - as it has been for 3 years - is IRAN. Condi seems bound and determined to drive the awakening Iranian people - who are our natural friends in the Middle East - back into the arms of the mullahs every chance she gets. Watch the pattern of her saber-rattling pronouncements. She does this every time they start to move toward us. With unnecessary provocative language tuned to insult Iranians on the street. It is ALWAYS counterproductive. And she is much too smart not to notice that fact.
Alas, she could easily have done the opposite. Proved her Kissinger-level chops by sending her boss on a peace plane to Tehran, bypassing the mullahs and emulating the judo-maneuver of Nixon-to-China. That's the sort of nimble tactics that can truly transform an international stage.
(It is also the worst nightmare of our real enemies. The ones calling the shots and stage-managing Jihad. That's why they have forbidden it.)
Rant-mode off.... Please thrive. We'll endure.
Oh, a final note. A very interesting, if partisan, bimonthly webzine can be found at: http://www.armageddonbuffet.com
Sorry about the political aside. Back to the serialization of my paper on modernity, soon.
You'll find the next bits especially controversial, as I use both Michael Crichton and Margaret Atwood to demonstrate the Left-Right joint assault upon science and hope.