Sunday, December 14, 2003

Back in the USSA

I haven't had television for two years, but since I'm over here for three weeks I got to see Operation Red Dawn in all its hyperreal splendor. Fox News kept showing footage of Iraqis celebrating, apparently oblivious to the fact that they were communists. Too funny. I'm not sure whether there's fixity in the pictures, but at the moment there's a photo of them next to this story, lower-left quadrant. On television one can see that some of the red flags are adorned with the hammer and sickle. From the Department of Ironic Contrasts, here's how their comrades flaunted it in Florence.

Salam Pax says that the Iraqi communists "have their hearts in the right place" (scroll down to Wednesday, May 07, 2003: "A Post From Baghdad Station").

UPDATE: Oliver Willis has also commented on some of these same features, and he links to Shock and Awe, who's got lots more pictures.

Monday, December 01, 2003

In the meantime, an instructive contrast

This is how George W. Bush -- who speaks often of humility -- described what some are calling The Hundred Years War:
The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain.
I don't know how long this war will go on, but I do know this: However long it takes, this nation will prevail.
Abraham Lincoln struck a rather different tone when speaking of the future course of the Civil War in his second inaugural address. Atlanta had already been captured. The Union forces had been triumphant at Nashville. Sherman had had Atlanta burned before marching to the sea. Charleston and Columbia had also fallen, and Sherman was headed for Virginia. Exactly one month later Lincoln would be sitting in Jefferson Davis' chair in Richmond, and shortly thereafter Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House.
The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
Both of these two Republican presidents engage in God-talk, and both relate their nation's conflicts to the agency and judgments of the divinity. For Bush, there is little doubt about what God thinks:
Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.
But here's what Lincoln said of the two sides in the war that he was fighting:
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!" [Matthew 18:7] If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." [Psalms 19:9]

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