September 06, 2007

It is fascinating to me that Bush used Vietnam as an analogy of why we should stay in Iraq, it is evidence of a perspective so completely skewed as actually be fascinating in the abstract. If the reality was not that this man is president of the United States.

This Jeffrey Kimball piece is interesting, about how Bush is now saying that history will vindicate him.
Of course, we all know that those who appeal to The Verdict of History are desperate. Bush is desperate, and that is why he is embracing this historical security blanket. The overwhelming majority of his compatriots do not believe he can or will succeed in Iraq even if the troops stay there for years or decades. They do not even know what Bush means by success. In any case, they question the costs of the war in relation to its putative necessity. His former aides and allies are bailing out or jumping ship. A recent survey revealed that 45 percent of active-duty personnel in America's volunteer army report low morale compared to 19 percent reporting high morale, and an unusually large number have called the war a failure. Bush's poll numbers are also way down. His credibility is gone. Therefore, he tells us—the citizenry and soldiery—to trust him, hang on, and await The Verdict of History. Not only does he take refuge in the future but he may even believe it's true: history will judge him to have been Churchillian; his presidential legacy will be redeemed.

In any case, Bush's invocation of The Verdict of History ignores the history of The Verdict of History. Long ago, observant and thoughtful historians like Bernadotte Schmitt, Pieter Geyl, Thomas J. Pressly, and Page Smith pointed out that the interpretations of the historians who wrote long after the historical event in question pretty much replicated the interpretations of the historical actors in the event and the first generation of pundits, journalists, and historians who originally wrote about the event. In other words, the writing of history is an "argument without end" in the sense that the original arguments or interpretations about a great historical event, such as a war, are fated to be repeated ad infinitum. The debate goes on—and on. So, what is said about George W. Bush's war now—whether pro, con, or neutral—will be repeated in the future. There is no Verdict of History.

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