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Trent Lott's My Lai solution

10/31/2003

As the bombs of the so-called Ramadan Offensive continue to shake Baghdad and its environs, the op-ed pages of America resound with a spontaneous en masse exorcism, exclaiming: "It's No Vietnam" (Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times); "Vietnam It Isn't" (Richard Cohen, Washington Post); "Another Vietnam? No" (Ralph Peters, New York Post). No, no, no, a thousand times no.

And indeed, if Ramadan is the new Tet, then Marx's dictum -- "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" -- truly ought to be inscribed over this particular chapter. The comparison seems absurd when one thinks of the 58,000 Americans killed in Southeast Asia, or any of the other agonies that our nation suffered during the wars of the last century.

So why does the madness of Vietnam so insistently well up in our national consciousness? Consider, for instance, the remarks of Sen. Trent Lott, the former Majority Leader, as reported yesterday in the Washington, DC newspaper The Hill:

"Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be," Lott said. In a sign of frustration, he offered an unorthodox military solution: "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. You're dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out."
Or, as the idiot slogan put it, Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out. Call it the My Lai solution.

In the seething frustration of Vietnam, at least, this sort of reaction was halfway comprehensible. But now, just a few bombs and Sen. Lott seems to be at the end of his tether. I don't think he's alone, either. How can this be?

Perhaps the continued violence reveals Iraq as something other than putty in American hands, ready to be remade after our own image. It betrays the promise of antiseptic, high-tech warfare and exposes as bankrupt the leadership of men and women who see always the risks of inaction and never the risks of action. The American public, of course, was sold on a free lunch, and has precious little stomach for anything less than uncheckered success. The latest Newsweek poll shows a clear majority now preferring that the administration start bringing the troops home.

It shocks and angers Sen. Lott that America doth not bestride the narrow world like a Colossus. To the foreign policy geniuses who assailed Bill Clinton for his lack of assertiveness against the Chinese and assorted other villains, it seems that the true prize of victory in the Cold War was to have been the privilege of enacting a national-messianic fantasy so overwrought it might have given Lenin pause. Or perhaps this headlong pursuit is actually the price of defeat in the Culture Wars: conservatives, no less than liberals, must have some outlet, somewhere, for their impulses. Day and night, the priests offer sacrifices upon the altar of Reagan, yet their idol is like any other idol. As it is written (Ps. 115:5-8):

They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;
They have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not;
They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak they with their throat.
They that make them shall be like unto them; yea, every one that trusteth in them.
Analyst

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by Analyst @ 12:40 AM CST [Link]

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Replies: 5 comments

Lott seems to believe that "Tot macht frei"

Best
Paul

Posted by Paul @ 10/31/2003 02:44 PM CST

Trent Lott is dangerous as he holds a position of power within the US government.
He is recommending genocide as a solution to a country that does not want to be occupied, privatized and looted by the US multinationals.
The invasion of Iraq shows the folly of thinking occupation will be welcomed by a country.
Carol

Posted by Carol @ 10/31/2003 08:08 PM CST

As a U.S. Senator, Trent Lott has no power within the Bush Administration, and probably not that much influence, either, unless I miss my guess. Senators and Congressmen routinely complain of being treated with contempt by the White House and the Department of Defense.

In the above commentary, I've taken Sen. Lott's generally overlooked remarks just as an example of Republicans' growing feelings of frustration about the course of the war. The Rumsfeld memo could be taken as another such expression of frustration, only a good deal less violent.

Posted by Analyst @ 11/02/2003 05:18 AM CST

I don't know if anyone else here is American, but I am. About a year ago Trent Lott was confronted about some racist remarks he had made over the years, his name was tarnished, and he stepped down from majority leader of the U.S. Senate. In my opinion, a remark like that will only hurt his power.

Posted by Kira @ 11/03/2003 03:30 PM CST

we are the ones who put thses asshloes in office the we whine when they make asses out of us next time think it thur

Posted by caroline french @ 11/08/2003 08:39 PM CST


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