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Sales Call

By way of MK: Mark Fiore’s “My Pet Legacy.”

Stop holding your breath: Make sure you talk to your kids and grandkids about Iraq, because someday, they’ll have to talk to their kids and grandkids about it; it would be great if they could understand how we allowed this whole thing to get started. So now we’re waiting for The Report on how things are going Over There. It’s another exercise in our national game of “who are you going to believe — me or your own eyes?” We’re not having a national debate or even a discussion about this anymore. We’re the captive audience for a national sales pitch. The war’s proponents are marketing the war to the rest of us, the reluctant buyers, with the underlying argument that they’re selling the only product we can possibly buy and that, even if it looks, smells, and tastes awful and the price is outrageous, we’d better sign up for a lifetime supply if we know what’s good for us. And besides, interest-only financing is available. So sure, let’s go ahead and do it; it’s an investment in the future, we hope, and maybe we can refinance next year.

Low, low easy payments: Like most buy-now, pay-later schemes, this one’s the gift that keeps on giving. Somehow, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get ahead of the payments and the upkeep. How long can this go on? Well, you might ask Israel. Mighty on the battlefield. Stalwart for democracy. Prosperous and inventive economically. And utterly unable to free itself from the deserts of its victory in the Six-Day War (if it took six days, why is it still going on?). That has all worked out beautifully for everyone, including we, the people who have dumped more than $100 billion into the Israeli project in the last 40 years. The Palestinians have rubble aplenty to go with a feeble, corrupt and blinkered leadership, and the Israelis have a militarized “democracy” that can only limit the unrest on its fringes by isolating the Palestinians with walls and separate highways. It’s a beautiful picture. Consider us sold.

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“Remember, this started, this crisis started when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. They were unprovoked — Hezbollah were unprovoked, and they then took hostages. Imagine how the United States would react if somebody provoked us with that kind of action. And secondly, started firing rockets. And it’s this provocation of Hezbollah that has created this crisis, and that’s the root cause of the problem.”

That was our president yesterday, with his pithy and morally certain summary of how Lebanon blew up. His third sentence got me: “Imagine how the United States would react if somebody provoked us with that kind of action.” The kind of action he’s talking about is the Hezbollah attack during which seven Israeli soldiers were killed and two taken captive.

We all know about Israel’s response: In a different time — maybe before Iraq, maybe before 9/11 — it’s hard to imagine that Israel’s orgy of destruction and killing would have been anything but shocking. Now the president is telling us not only that unrestrained violence is the way of the world, he is, in effect, endorsing it.

I’m not cayrring any water for Hezbollah or others who appear so willing to murder for their causes. The point is we’re supposed to represent the alternative.

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Fugue State

It’s getting into the warm season again in Iraq. And, if military commanders The New York Times cites are to be believed, it’s far from the last summer our troops will spend chasing insurgents, building Mesopotamian democracy, and cleaning up after our Great Architect of World Liberty:

“In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last ‘many years.’ ”

“Many years.” Profoundly sad. Profoundly depressing. But not really surprising.

I remember Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, how glorious that was, what a thorough vindication of its boldness and military superiority. I don’t recall anyone talking in the immediate aftermath about “Palestinians” or “occupied territories. That came later, and it came to stay. Thirty-eight years after its triumph, Israel is walling itself off from its conquest.

Thirty-eight years. I wonder how long it will take us to get home from Iraq, or whether we ever really will?

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