|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Monday, August 16th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|Is true patriotism serving one’s country in time of war – or pinning a little American flag in one’s lapel? So asks David Halberstam in the latest Vanity Fair. Mr. Halberstam was himself a reporter “embedded” with combat forces in Vietnam, accompanying U.S. soldiers on dangerous missions, putting himself in the line of fire to relate the story of the war. Unlike his modern “embedded” counterparts in Iraq, Mr. Halberstam didn’t hesitate to depart from the Pentagon’s official script. That the war was an appalling catastrophe was just as apparent to him as it was to the soldiers with whom he served, and so he wrote.
For telling the truth he was denounced as unpatriotic by the hawks at home, who spoke with the fearlessness of well-fed men sitting in Washington offices. The architects of the war, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his colleagues, Mr. Halberstam notes, had never seen active service. Nor did they know much about Southeast Asia. In her history of the great misuses of military might, The March of Folly, a book that bears rereading, Barbara Tuchman notes that Lyndon Johnson had purged the State Department of most of its Southeast Asia experts. The Texan President objected to the Ivy League demeanor of the experts, and also to their annoying insistence on adhering to the known facts rather than the party line.
Willfully ignorant militarists who attack critics by labeling them unpatriotic and who themselves shirked combat service by every means at their disposal – the description fits Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush as neatly as it does McNamara and company. They wear their patriotism on their sleeves, or rather their lapels. They send young men and women off to die with the same fearlessness that they impugn the courage and service of men who did sacrifice themselves for their country, men like John McCain and Max Cleland and John Kerry. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, said Dr. Johnson. Looking at the present administration, we know exactly what he meant.
The Afternoon Affront
Max Cleland, former Senator from Georgia, won both Silver and Bronze Stars for his valorous performance as a U.S. Army Captain in Vietnam. His successor, Saxby Chambliss, never served in combat. He defeated Mr. Cleland in 2002 with ads portraying the Senator alongside Osama Bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein. Mr. Chambliss won the W. Stuart Symington Award from the Air Force Association, largely for facilitating rich defense contracts as a member of the House of Representatives. You can read all about Mr. Chambliss at www.allamericanpatriots.com. Really.
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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