Historical Amnesia: The Nation's Number One Disease
Recent indicators suggest the US military mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia is waning in influence, leaving us mired down with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars of equipment and bases. And a lot of face to save.
According to a New York Times analysis, Turkey and Iran are rising in regional influence as the United States is falling. And let's not forget, arguably the single-most important historical act that boosted Iran to this level of regional influence was the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.
“The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East,” writes Anthony Shadid in the Times analysis.
Still, you have to admire US leaders for their talent and tenacity in never publicly recognizing the obvious. George Bush, of course, was an underestimated master at this.
He and his gang of cutthroats stumbled around in the world like drunken fat men knocking over furniture and vomiting on the couch. Then, at the press conference when a reporter asked if there was anything he could say had been a “mistake,” he'd give us that famous vacant look
“Gee. I’m thinking,” he’d say with an aw-shucks grin and a shy chuckle. “I’m trying but I just can’t come up with anything right now.” Another chuckle and a little shrug. Then: “I’ll take it under advisement and get back to you in a couple decades.”
In other words, “Buzz off and leave me alone. I’m the leader of the free world. I don't make mistakes. I make history.”
Now, of course, we have a man in the White House who most everybody agrees is a smart guy – even those who insist he's a Third World Manchurian Candidate.
Mr. Obama doesn’t play the same coy public games Mr. Bush played. His game revolves around the idea that all the mistakes were made by Bush, but since they are now so institutionalized that they constitute The-State-Of-America-Today, to rock the boat would only damage the nation. And no American President can get very far – like be re-elected – by doing anything that might be characterized as hurting America.
What is “America” but the bright and shining accumulation of 235 years of decisions and campaigns that left a lot of death, wreckage and collateral damage in their wake? So Mr. Obama's modus operandi to stay afloat and get ahead in this great churning enterprise is to go with the flow, since those who try to dam the flow or swim against it only get battered and smashed by the flotsam and jetsam rushing down-river. Better to be forward-looking.
Frank Rich of The New York Times described this top-down, power-driven national process nicely. Specifically, he was speaking about how our government and media were addressing the aftermath of the Tucson shooting. Rich picks it up at the close of President Obama’s beautiful speech in Tucson: