Saturday, September 02, 2006

on point

I haven't been following the news, so I wasn't aware of the Rumsfeld speech that is the target of the above editorial. Here's an excerpt:
One of the most important things the American Legion has done is not only to serve and assist and advocate, as you have done so superbly for so much of the past century, but also to educate and to speak the truth about our country and about the men and women in the military.

Not so long ago, an exhibit — Enola Gay at the Smithsonian during the 1990s — seemed to try to rewrite the history of World War II by portraying the United States as somewhat of an aggressor. Fortunately, the American Legion was there to lead the effort to set the record straight. (Applause.)

Your watchdog role is particularly important today in a war that is to a great extent fought in the media on a global stage, a role to not allow the distortions and myths be repeated without challenge so that at the least the second or third draft of history will be more accurate than the first quick allegations we see.

You know from experience personally that in every war there have been mistakes, setbacks, and casualties. War is, as Clemenceau said, “a series of catastrophes that result in victory.”

And in every army, there are occasional bad actors, the ones who dominate the headlines today, who don’t live up to the standards of the oath and of our country. But you also know that they are a very, very small percentage of the literally hundreds of thousands of honorable men and women in all theaters in this struggle who are serving our country with humanity, with decency, with professionalism, and with courage in the face of continuous provocation. (Applause.)

And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere.

It's a remarkable speech, certainly. For instance, the implied shock in the line about the U.S. being "somewhat the aggressor" during WWII, when a former secretary of defense recently admitted that we'd committed war crimes in our repeated bombing of civilian targets in Japan -- even before we dropped the big one.

But it's the last line in my excerpt, the one I bolded, that I find particularly chilling.

1 comment:

ginak said...

People on both sides of the war issue keep struggling to compare the current war to World War II, which I find interesting. From what I can tell, this war has very little in common with WWII, and a whole lot in common with WWI. This war is about colonialism, nationalism and empire building. I could elaborate, but I'll spare you. As far as I'm concerned, though, history is repeating itself, just not the history that's most likely to rile people up.