Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Favored Children
Yesterday I wrote about how Americans act like favored children who've been told all their lives how special they are, to the point at which we believe it even when we're confronted with evidence to the contrary--that our motives are not always pure, that our cause is not always just, that we're not immune from the forces of history. William Pfaff, whose work I've linked to previously, wrote an article for The Guardian last Sunday that incorporates some of the same themes. We reacted to September 11 in a way totally in character for us, as the chosen people of history unjustly challenged by usurpers of our divine rights. The war on terror in general and the war on Iraq in particular was supposed to put the world back into its proper order--but it hasn't. And now we face a period of domestic uncertainty as we try to figure out how to stomach this defeat, just as after our defeat in Vietnam. Pfaff doesn't speculate what the uncertainty might entail. Neither will I. I will say that it took us the better part of 15 years to incorporate Vietnam into our self-image--and when we finally did, we don't seem to have learned much.

Elsewhere this morning, US News and World Report features a brief squib about the possibility of terror attacks on American soil before the November election. The administration has reportedly been holding secret drills so everybody will know how to respond to either a massive attack on something like the Capitol or a series of smaller attacks in the DC area. For a long time, I suspected that Bush might try to find some pretext to cancel the election. Now I don't think it will be necessary. The administration would welcome a terror attack. An official quoted in the US News article is surprisingly candid about it: "I can tell you one thing. We won't be like Spain." For more on the prospect of future attacks leading up to the November election, click this from the Asia Times.

Recommended reading: One of the first progressive political websites I read on a regular basis was TomPaine.Com. The site went dark last week for a relaunch that finally happened yesterday. While I am not entirely wild about the layout and design of the site, the content is still first-rate. In addition to the usual opinion columns, the site now has a couple of new sections featuring news headlines and ways to get involved in progressive causes, and has added a blog page, which features the Dreyfuss Report and a new feature called "Blog of Blogs," which is a digest of commentary from progressive blogs around the web. Dreyfuss has a great post about Democratic enthusiasm for John McCain as Kerry's running mate, and how it ignores McCain's record in Vietnam: "Both McCain, and his father--the admiral in charge of the Pacific theater during the Vietnam war--were enthusiastic, bomb-them-back-to-hell advocates of the war in Vietnam, and McCain’s imprisonment does nothing, in my mind, to expiate his guilt for killing thousands of Vietnam during bombing raids in North Vietnam."

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