Friday, January 12, 2007

Vietnam, the undeclared defeat

The legend of American invincibility has been supported by an unbroken? succession of victorious wars. Some were less victorious than others, but none was a defeat.

Except Vietnam, depending on how you spin it.

In the course of their national history, Americans, who have been called a bellicose though unmartial people, have fought ten wars, and so far without so much as one South African fiasco such as England encountered in the heyday of her power.

Until now. The Boer War for England is this Iraq II debacle for us.

This unique good fortune has isolated America, I think rather dangerously, from the common experience of the rest of mankind, all the great peoples of which have without exception known the bitter taste of defeat and humiliation.

This is what the current administration is trying to avoid.

It has fostered the tacit conviction that American ideal, values, and principles inevitably prevail in the end. That conviction has never received a name, nor even so much explicit formulation as the old concept of Manifest Destiny.

It is assumed, not discussed. And the assumption exposes us to the temptation that we are somehow immune from the forces of history.

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