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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Civil War ... American Style

In the bargain bin at Borders, I picked up a book about a person who loses his memory, and uses old books, records and so forth to try to regain some sort of memory.

He notes that fascist media stories from the WWII era turn out to be quite useful at telling the truth as a relative discovered. You just have to read in between the lines ... the Italians are brave one place, but "won" other places ... well, that means they lost that other place. And, the BBC apparently confirmed it for his uncle or whomever. This is a useful technique generally, including when you are reading a source that leans a certain way, or has incomplete information. See also, lawyers who cannot lie in court, but can re-arrange the truth in creative ways. This sort of thing helps me out since I'm not a big fan of reading sources that I totally disagree with.

Talking about past wars, I think the Civil War Era provides a useful history lesson. Take the Reconstruction. Many do not have fond memories of the rather small numbers of Union troops that staid on after the Civil War, often in later years sticking pretty close to their bases. We passed a law, weakened of late, specifically barring the use of the military in domestic affairs to guard against this sort of thing ... the thing that calls to mind the reason we have a Second and Third Amendment, in particular to the latter. But, we do not find it problematic ... well, not enough so ... when we send a lot more troops -- much more lethal ones at that ... into domestic areas in foreign countries. KKK attacks or not, we didn't keep the troops down South. And, said removal is not really the reason why blacks had it so hard afterwards.

Then, there is the general deal. Our liar in chief insists that he trusts the generals, sending General Petraeus out to promote "the Surge" (sound stupid, doesn't it?), various sorts telling us we should wait to September for months now to give him a chance to give his report. Such b.s., since we know what he will say, and basically knew it from the beginning. The spin of the "benchmarks" is only the most blatant example of the exercise. Simply put, there is a single forest problem here -- you can focus on the small, and show success, while missing the forest of failure.

[Let's compromise! As Elizabeth Edwards said on Rachel Maddow today, you can always refuse funding until the other side compromises. Oh, then that they will say you don't want to fund the troops. Darn Republican talking points ... oh wait, didn't Obama bring that up? Of course, her husband voted the wrong way 10/02. Still, things like that make me uneasy.]

This forest includes policy. It is the civilian side really, which is how things work here. But, who says we care about how things should work in our system? Anyway, Civil War generals had policy too. We didn't trust the war to McClellan, though. And, the historian James McPherson in a recent essay collection noted that Lee's official report almost made Gettysburg look like a victory for the rebels ... spin, you know.

Guarantee we will have a lot of armchair warriors showing how we could have done a better job in this conflict too. Heck, Bush is already out there saying we should have ended Vietnam differently. Ah, must be interesting to have no shame.