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09 April 2003


If you are one of those people who look at the stuff around the edges of a web page, you may notice that I added a Contact Me link above. Feel free to send e-mail and express yourself.

I also added a few more News links. One of them, Common Dreams, is a great site that I just discovered thanks to my best friend Joani (thanks, Joani!) sending me an article from it by Arthur Schleshinger, Jr., whom my fellow baby-boomers may remember as JFK's "special assistant" and more lately, his biographer. In this article Schleshinger mentions (and it is, I think, the third article I have read to mention it) the speech by President John Addams where he says that America "will not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Thinking of JFK and AS, Jr. being such comsummate cold warriors and all, made me make one of my strange lateral connections. In the Cold War days, the other side, whom we styled, quaintly, "the Soviets", did, or were accused, of exactly that. We used to pride ourselves, as Americans, that we didn't have to export our ideology the way they did, though we granted that they saw themselves as destroying the monsters of capitalist imperialism that stalked abroad. But we thought that the American way of life, the capitalist ideology, the doctrine of freedom, just had to be superior because it sort of exported itself: it leapt off the shelves, it turned up everywhere. Non-Americans could claim to despise us, but they all wanted to be us, even the "Soviets", apart from a few fanatics, would defect at the drop of a hat. And then the Cold War ended (we won) and still there were people who despised us, and they weren't even "Soviets". In the world of Islam, we found some opponents who seemed far more resistance to the old American Schmooze, they did not think our ideology was like flapjacks at all, and they seemed remarkably slow to adopt our way of life, even when they had the dosh to do so. So now at long last we have found a monster worth going abroad to destroy? Well, yes, Al Qaeda fits that bill. But Saddam only ever wore the trappings of Islam as a political technique - he is the opposite of a fanatic, and we really don't (do we?) mean to "destroy" Islam itself. Another hint that maybe the war against Iraq is a winnable proxy for another fight we know we cannot win, at least not satisfyingly and now.

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