The New Englander and I were down in Cambridge Friday, having lunch with a Masters Degree student with time in Iraq under his belt—a tour of two years working for our Department of State.
He told us a story of sitting around with some Iraqis after a long meeting and one of them commenting about how long it took to end the US Civil War. When the Americans said, it only ran from 1861 to 1865 an Iraqi said, but you didn't give voting rights to Blacks until 1964. Ah, the moment of truth.
Just the week before, or maybe two weeks before I had commented that I thought it wasn't until 1960 or so that the Civil War actually ended, given that it took that long to move against segregation and the wrong-headed notion of "separate but equal". We tend to think of wars ending when the shooting stops, but that is just the armistice. The peace treaty has to be accepted by all sides, and all factions have to agree that it is time to move on. World War One, the war to end all wars, didn't resolve everything and thus we have World War Two. Some argue that it wasn't until 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, that World War One ended. (I am working on my paper for the WWI history course Martha and I are taking and I am playing with kicking the end of World War One out even further.)
The conclusion I draw from the story is that the eagerness we display to end things and move on may be a-historical. This idea that there should be a war termination plan, coming from the time of Fred Ikle and his book Every War Must End, suggests an orderliness that does not exist in the real world.
And the application for today is that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan may not end like our war with Germany and Japan did in 1945, with the other side accepting the end and moving on. That doesn't mean that we will have to be engaged with combat troops for a long time. It does suggest that we may be involved in helping out for quite a while. And, in my humble opinion, it means that US Government Civil Servants should be involved in a big way, replacing military forces as the situation changes.
Of course, my middle Brother, who just yesterday sent me a link to an Ellen Goodman article in the San Jose Mercury. "Goodman: Facts give way to something called 'truthiness'", might question the authenticity of this story. Since I got it from the person who heard the telling of the tale, I think it is pretty good. Her bottom line?
Well, I have "news" for you. When the reporters go, so do the facts. And their checkers.And she singles out Right-Wing blogs for her contempt.
However, I am here to say that sometimes the blogs, even "right wing" blogs, do seek truth. And do check facts. It is just that we don't have a lot of recent female college graduates we can hire for little money to serve as our fact checkers.♠ I do have a wife of long standing, but that is it for "staff" and she doesn't see herself as staff anyway.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Let us be frank. Female college graduates command a lot more money these days than they did when Ms Goodman was breaking into the business, and rightfully so. And, if we are to judge by profits, blogs are even further down the food chain than newspapers.