In August 1967 three years had passed since Lyndon Johnson's Gulf of Tonkin charade, the proximate cause for active US engagement in Vietnam, a morass that resulted in 58,184 US combat deaths. As the US entered the fourth year of war, an organized resistance emerged at home, a polarization in public life that informed American politics with the desire for peace and social justice for the next fifteen years.
The election of the senex, Ronald Reagan, put an effective end to those dreams and from that time forward the right wing has consolidated power in the US.
Three years ago it was clear to many of us that the Bush regime had committed a terrible crime and led the US into a war that can't and won't be won, led us into a war for combat bases outside of Saudi Arabia to project force into an oil rich area to protect and expand the interests of the global energy corporations. It was clear to us that shadows were falling...
Here's Doc Searls on my certitude three years ago...
...do you really believe the best thing for the World would be for the US to pull out now and leave one of the cruelest dictorships in modern times at the helm in Iraq, with all the cruel and innocent deaths that would follow in the wake of such a move.
"No," Doc said, "I don't. Now that we're in there, I want us to finish with minimal loss of life on all sides. I hope we take out Saddam Hussein's regime and return the country to its oppressed people. Then I hope we go home."
And while Doc's and Tom's are the reasonable hopes of peaceful men, I think things have gone too far. These hopes are impossible. And to wish for the impossible is delusional. Yet to cast a gimlet eye on the world stage and to accept that our own country is being held hostage to the interests of a high caste of modern industrialists whose goals are being masked by a chase after shadow figures, evil men who frighten the American electorate in large part because of the images Rupert Murdoch and his cronies convey of them day after day -- to accept this is enormously difficult. Because with this acceptance comes the knowledge that right action is required. And the right action that is required seems so hopeless, so alienated, so out of touch. But Dennis Kucinich and Tammy Baldwin and Cynthia McKinney and Barbara Lee and the thirty or so others who can be counted on in Congress to speak truth as they see it are not sufficient to our cause. And the strongest voices for peace in the Senate, the Paul Wellstones, the Mel Carnahan's... well, they've met the same fate as the Kennedy scion in light plane "accidents." I wonder what is the next great military challenge Rumsfeld and Bush and Cheney have in mind for us. I wonder if they even know.
Some strong yet subtle shit in there. Deep too. Especially in that last line. I often wish I could match the certitudes of certidudes like Frank and Andrew and Michael and Charles. But I can't. Deep down I'm a pacifist, but just as deeply I'm a libertarian too. Go figure.
I think one of our countries greatest losses since Vietnam has been the loss of an understanding of proper governance, the loss of a willingness to entrust public policy to good people who serve us as elected officals and civil servants.
And Doc's a libertarian. "Go figure." No offense Doc, but we need a better answer than libertarianism.