A friend sent me a link to an editorial bemoaning the fact that, by abruptly pulling out from Iraq and, soon, Afghanistan, the Obama administration is ensuring that we’re leaving a job undone — something that invariably means one has to do it again. If history is going to keep repeating itself, why can’t we just repeat the good parts?
World War I ended with a definitive American victory, but a dangerous, un-managed peace, one that pretty much made World War II inevitable. By 1942, my favorite songwriter, Irving Berlin, pretty much summed up the WWII mindset, which was “do it right this time.”
‘Twas not so long ago we sailed to meet the foe
And thought our fighting days were done
We thought ’twas over then but now we’re in again
To win the war that wasn’t won
This time, we will all make certain
That this time is the last time
This time, we will not say “Curtain”
Till we ring it down in their own home town
For this time, we are out to finish
The job we started then
Clean it up for all time this time
So we won’t have to do it again
Dressed up to win
We’re dressed up to win
Dressed up for victory
We are just beginning
And we won’t stop winning
Till the world is free
We’ll fight to the finish this time
And we’ll never have to do it again
Trust old Irving to hit the nail on the head. And, in fact, that’s what the Allies did. First, they destroyed entirely the totalitarian states in Germany, Japan and Italy. Then, in those regions over which they had control (as to those the Soviets held), the Americans carefully rebuilt the nations into democratic allies. It was a tough, long-haul job, but it prevented post-war massacres and ensured that (so far) we haven’t had to “do it again” with Germany, Italy or Japan.
Clearly, we’re a whole lot dumber now than we were in the mid-20th century. In 1991 we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq (which is one of the reasons I’ve never liked Colin Powell, whom I’ve always blamed, fairly or not, for being the architect of that foolish retreat). Now, with Obama’s help, we’re doing it all over again, only worse. Does any nation get a third chance to remedy its chronic stupidity? I doubt we will, especially because Obama is also choosing to repeat the disarmament mistakes of the 20s and 30s. Ain’t those fancy Ivy League educations grand? They go in smart and come out stupid.
I’m an armchair warrior (aka a chicken hawk) and I’m disgusted and frustrated. I can only imagine how the troops — the ones who sweated and bled — feel as they watch their Commander in Chief dismantling all of their good work.