Saturday, March 15, 2008

Five Years In

This is a simply amazing, at times almost biblical post from Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest:

"Five Years In
[Republished from last year at this time.]

Five years in. An inch of time. Five years in and the foolish and credulous among us yearn to get out. Their feelings require it. The power of their Holy Gospel of "Imagine" compels them. Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals, the beheaders of reporters, and the incinerators of men and women working quietly at their desks, rise and flood their minds until their eyes flow with crocodile tears while their mouths emit slogans made of cardboard. They believe the world is run on wishes and that they will always have three more.

Like savages shambling about some campfire where all there is to eat are a few singed tubers, they paint their faces with the tatterdemalion symbols of a summer long sent down to riot with the worms. They clasp hands and sing songs whose lyrics are ash. "We shall... over... come." Overcome what, overcome who? Overcome their nation? Is that their dream? It is the lifelong dream of those that lead them that much is certain.

Five years in and we see these old rotting rituals trotted out in the streets like some pagan procession of idols and shibboleths, like some furred and feathered fetish shaken against the sky by hunkering witch-doctors, to hold back the dark, to frighten off the evil spirits and graven images that trouble the sleep of the dreamers.

Five years into the most gentle war ever fought, a war fought on the cheap at every level, a war fought to avoid civilian harm rather than maximize it. Picnic on the grass at Shiloh. Walk the Western Front. Speak to the smoke of Dresden. Kneel down and peek into the ovens of Auschwitz. Sit on the stones near ground zero at Hiroshima and converse with the shadows singed into the wall. Listen to those ghost whisperers of war.

Five years in and the people of the Perfect World ramble through the avenues of Washington, stamping their feet and holding their breath, having their tantrums, and telling all who cannot avoid listening that "War is bad for children and other living things." They have flowers painted on their cheeks. For emphasis. Just in case you thought that war was good for children and other living things.

There were children and other living things on the planes that flew into the towers. They all went into the fire and the ash just the same. But they, now, are not important. Nor is the message their deaths still send us when we listen. That message is to be silenced. The rising brand new message is "All we are say-ing is give...." And it is always off-key.

Five years in and they are upset that their party of the 90s has been so long interrupted; that their raves are foreshortened; that their sleep is persistently shaken by car bombs beyond the far horizon; that their time at the mall can not be entirely, completely, and utterly without guilt.

Five years in and the clear and present danger to the nation must be closeted in favor of the unclear and distant end of the world if we insist on exuding, as all life does, carbon dioxide. Send the nation and its armies and its wards and protectorates to the block, but keep the polar bears cold.

"Can't you see that worldwide wall of water sweeping in to inundate all life in 30, 50, 100, 500 years?"

"No. I cannot see it from here."

"Ah well, you are a warmonger, an evil person, a vile Christian, a shameless, shameless American.

"You must have shame. Shame is what we have when we look around us. We are ashamed of what was given us. You must join us; share in our shame at being Americans, at being the last best hope of earth.

"Join us and join the rising despair of people who, believing in nothing, believe only in the self, the life of the senses, the mollifying of guilt, of 'the expense of reason in a waste of shame.'"

Five years in and the fools in the streets multiply. They are tired of the war, but full of themselves.

Hear me now. This is my answer to you. This is my answer and this is my prophecy.

It is taking too long. It will be with you, blowing hot and cold, for decades yet to come.

It is costing too much. How much will it cost to rebuild a burned and irradiated Los Angeles?

Too many soldiers have died. Even one soldier's death is too much. What is the nature and duty of a soldier? Is a soldier there only to come in and sandbag a flooded New Orleans? Bring you a Red Cross sandwich and a cup of weak coffee after a tidal wave?

We shall overcome. Overcome who? Your fellow citizens? Certainly not the enemy. You'll not get over on this one with your Ghandiesque platitudes, unless you are ready to all go like lemmings over the cliff and onto the spikes. You don't strike me as the kind of people with that level of commitment. You strike me as the kind of people who like to prance, rant, and chant, and then go home for a nice chilled Chardonnay and a slab of grilled tofu. Then you spend an hour bitching about Bush before taking a bong hit and sucking up some MTV. I know you well. I was you.

We shall take our no balls and go home. You will return when your children are slaughtered in their schools. You will return when one of our cities burns. You will return when your cities freeze in the winter, your drinks warm without ice in the summer, your iPods go flat as you walk streets with few lights, when your electricity is rationed, and the shelves of your store are bare. You will return when the crops fail and the trucks cannot run.

Look around you. Everything you have, everything, is there because of oil. The brute fact of the planet right now and into the next few decades is that without oil, the machine that enables you to be you runs on oil. If that oil runs out, your nation, any nation, will do all that it can to get it back. And you will be back not "with peace, but with a sword" of a terrible fire. In your name. In all our names.

It will not be our fault because we marched and spoke up. We moved on. You have made a festival out of your foolishness if you are young, and, if you are old, out of a yearning for a lost youth you left behind on the last day of 1969. You have carried that yearning forward all your life. You re-enact that foolishness again because you know no other, and you know no better.

"We shall not/ We shall not be blamed." If we leave because of your pouting and pique, we will return because of your stupidity. There will be blood after and blood later and fire to follow. That war will not take Five years. It will take an afternoon at best, but decades of digging out will follow. A million may die here but many millions will die there.

What follows will make the Great Depression seem a mild recession. History will unfold in ways we cannot now fathom. The American experiment, still young, may falter -- may fail.

Should America falter or fail other forces, not so sweetly congenial to freedom, shall rise. The utopian world you seek will be set back a century at the least. We will all have to bear the brand of that fire, but on your foreheads the mark will be sharp and deep. And we will know you for what you are. Worse still, you will know.

Five years in and the only way out and out now would be to quit. Capitulation is not a policy. It is procrastination. There is a way out, but it is years away and many people, people who swoon easily in the sunlight of this "war lite," do not have the ability to endure any war; even so tepid a war as this. They do not have the simple patience.

It is in patience alone that our enemies outstrip us. After all, when you look at what they have made of their "civilization" what indeed do they have to lose?

Five years in and what do we have to lose should you force us to lose?

In time, everything."

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