As I've Been Saying ... It's Way Too Soon

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Barry
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As I've Been Saying ... It's Way Too Soon

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:06 pm

CSM
Iraq, five years later – still too soon to judge
It'll take decades to set the record straight. What we need now is the fortitude to win.
By Mark Moyar
March 20, 2008

Quantico, Va. - Today, when only 38 percent of Americans believe that invading Iraq five years ago was the right course of action, it is easy to forget that 72 percent of Americans favored war in March 2003.

The past five years have, of course, failed to live up to many American expectations. Much intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) turned out to be wrong. A postinvasion Iraq that was projected to finance its own reconstruction is now absorbing 12 billion US taxpayer dollars per month. An Iraqi society that was supposed to become a model of liberal democracy is instead torn by insurgent violence and dependent upon a huge US military presence. Insurgents have killed 4,000 Americans and far more Iraqis.

Today, on the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, it's tempting to render all kinds of judgment on critical questions: Is America safer today because of the war? Are we winning? Was the decision to go to war flawed or purposely misleading? What went wrong with the occupation? What effect has the war had on America's allies and enemies? When will the war end? These are natural questions to ask. But answering them would be premature.

That's because conclusively evaluating the war requires much information that is not presently available. Published sources offer conflicting accounts of the Bush administration's prewar deliberations, leaving unclear what exactly top administration officials knew and believed about Iraqi WMD and Iraq's potential for democratization. Thus, we must await the release of classified government documents, several decades from now, to judge the decision on the basis of what was known at the time, which is one way that future historians will assess it.

Assessing the decision with the wisdom of hindsight, as historians will also do, likewise requires a decades-long period of waiting for critical facts to emerge. Reports that Saddam Hussein sent WMD to Syria before his downfall have yet to be verified or disproved. Only time will reveal whether Iraq has served as a magnet for terrorists who otherwise would have gone to the United States to perpetrate the next 9/11.

If Americans were asked on Sept. 12, 2001, what sacrifices they would make to prevent another massive terrorist attack, a large fraction no doubt would have been willing to accept the costs that have been incurred in Iraq. After all, 9/11 killed 3,000 people and caused economic damage that, according to some estimates, exceeded the costs of the Iraq war to date.

At the moment, we lack essential information about the war's impact on the international scene. The extent of foreign support and opposition, in 2003 and 2008, will not be known until the declassification of documents, since the true views of governments often differ sharply from their public postures. Libya and other countries may or may not have become more willing to cooperate with the US after watching Saddam Hussein fall.

In researching Lyndon Johnson's 1965 decision to fight in Vietnam, four decades after the fact, I discovered information that led to a fundamental reassessment of the decision. Contrary to what nearly all historians and journalists had written, every country in Asia aside from China's allies supported American intervention in Vietnam. Many of those countries made hitherto unknown offers of combat troops and military aid. US intervention in Vietnam persuaded the Indonesian military to oust the pro-Communist President Sukarno, one of America's greatest victories in the cold war.

For the US, the fall of Sukarno and subsequent international developments reduced the strategic stakes in Vietnam. In Iraq, by contrast, the strategic stakes have increased over time. An American withdrawal today would likely lead to genocidal violence, the spreading of war beyond Iraq, the conversion of Iraq into an Al Qaeda sanctuary, or all of the above. Such eventualities could compel the US to intervene militarily under circumstances even less favorable than those prevailing.

Most of what Senators Obama and Clinton presently say about Iraq concerns past mistakes. The next president, however, will not be a time-machine operator, but a shaper of the present and future who will need to offer the American people not gloom, but hope.

It is easy to speak of withdrawing from Iraq at a Democratic fundraiser, but very difficult to order it from the Oval Office, where the weight of awesome responsibilities presses down. Watching the Democratic candidates' recent hedging of withdrawal promises, one suspects that they recognize the perils of rapid withdrawal and the impossibility of ending the conflict promptly through negotiations.

Chances are very good, therefore, that the US will mark many more anniversaries in Iraq. The next president will, like it or not, be another war president, and voters would be well advised to bear this in mind.

Americans can also improve the prospects for success in Iraq by setting aside bickering over darts that have already been thrown and cooperating to ensure that the next darts hit their targets. The judgment and fortitude of the American public will probably produce the piece of missing information most important to assessing the war – its outcome.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0320/p09s01-coop.html
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Fugu

Post by Fugu » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:35 pm

So how many more years, Barry? 10, 20, 50? You seem to think it's ok to occupy another country.

Barry
Posts: 10344
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:53 pm

Fugu wrote:So how many more years, Barry? 10, 20, 50? You seem to think it's ok to occupy another country.
As many as it takes, until it's determined that staying is making it worse than leaving, Dan. And I don't believe that it will take decades to get to that point, at least in terms of having over 100,000 troops who are at risk on a daily basis. Either the effort will fail and we'll have no choice but to leave sooner, or it will succeed to at least an acceptable point and we'll be there in smaller numbers for many years, but not in combat (see South Korea, Germany and Japan). If we take any other route at this point, we'd be risking losing the gains we've made since the start of the surge, thrustin the region into chaos and probably ensuring that we'll be back there eventually, only under much more difficult circumstances than we face now.
Last edited by Barry on Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

keaggy220
Posts: 4721
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:42 pm
Location: Washington DC Area

Post by keaggy220 » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:54 pm

Fugu wrote:So how many more years, Barry? 10, 20, 50? You seem to think it's ok to occupy another country.
I think it's best to stay until the job is done. One thing we can agree on is that the job is not done...
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

Barry
Posts: 10344
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:01 pm

Here's a piece with something for both Bush haters and those who say the Democrats are offering a worse alternative than McCain in terms of where to go from here. As I said last week, it's too soon to say what the final verdict on the Iraq War will be, but it's not too soon to point out some of the obvious mistakes in how the war was handled before the surge was finally put into operation:

NY Post
Ralph Peters
SHOCK AND AWFUL
March 20, 2008 -- ON the fifth anniversary of our cam paign to remove Saddam Hussein's monstrous regime from power, it's hard not to despair - not because of the situation in Iraq, which has improved remarkably, but because so few American politicians in either party appear to have drawn the right lessons from our experience.

For the record, I still believe that deposing Saddam was justified and useful. He was a Hitler, and he was our enemy. But I'm still reeling from the snotty incompetence with which the Bush administration acted. Above all, I'm ashamed that I trusted President Bush and his circle to have a plan for the day after Baghdad fell.

All of our other failures in Iraq stemmed from this fundamental neglect of a basic requirement: Our soldiers and Marines reached Baghdad without orders or strategic guidance. We became the dog that caught the fire truck. The tragedy is that it didn't have to be that way: One thing our military knows how to do is plan.

But the relevant staffs were prevented from doing so. Ideologues and avaricious friends of the administration wanted the war for their own reasons, and they didn't intend to alarm Congress with high cost estimates. So they trusted the perfumed tales of a convicted criminal, Ahmad Chalabi, rather than the professional views of the last honorable generals then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had not yet removed.

Even on the purely military side, the White House put its faith in hopeless gimmicks, such as "Shock and Awe," convincing itself that ground troops were an afterthought. Of course, it was the old-fashioned grunts, tankers, gunners and supply sergeants who had to get us to Baghdad.

Iraq just didn't have to be this hard. We made it immeasurably more difficult by trying to make war on the cheap, then turning the war's aftermath into a looting orgy for well-connected contractors.

The fundamental requirement to provide security for the population - a troop-intensive endeavor - went ignored, while grandiose reconstruction projects drained the pockets of American taxpayers, only to come to nothing. Our troops and their battlefield leaders did all they could under Rumsfeld's yes-man generals, but every other branch of our government ducked. The "interagency effort" was a joke.

Back home, Congress indulged in cheap partisanship. The State Department concentrated on building the world's largest and most-expensive embassy - a project worthy of Saddam himself - and let the spectacularly incompetent Ambassador L. Paul Bremer wreck what little hope of maintaining peace remained.

The administration's solution to worsening conditions was to send more compliant generals, to continue listening to think-tank "experts" who had never served in uniform, to keep cutting fat checks for contractors and to let our troops bleed between photo ops.

None of us should mistake the fundamental truth: The only reason our efforts in Iraq have not failed completely has been the sustained valor and commitment of those in uniform. Our military was the only government entity that did its job. Its thanks have been betrayal by the political opposition at home, a rash of movies portraying our troops as psychotics and crocodile tears from protesters who secretly delight in US casualties.

In 2007, after four bloody years of denial, a desperate administration finally got serious about military requirements, sending the additional troops (now weary) who should have been deployed in 2003. With the wretched Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld headed out the door, the president also permitted a serious soldier, Gen. David Petraeus, to take charge in Iraq.

We got lucky, too. Our global enemies in al Qaeda alienated Iraq's Sunni Arabs in record time, indulging in grotesque forms of oppression and terror even Saddam and his sons had never dared to inflict. Those who recently had sided with al Qaeda against us found that we were their only hope to be rid of al Qaeda. The Sunni-Arab flip in Iraq has been a great strategic victory that resounds throughout the Muslim world.

The troop surge also had a powerful psychological effect, convincing enemies, fence-sitters and local allies alike that we weren't quitting - despite the results of the US midterm elections. And the Iraqi people were just sick of the violence. By 2007, most had gotten the worst bile out of their systems and wanted normal lives.

Even the often chaotic, corruption-addled Iraqi legislature managed to pass more major bills in 2007 than the US Congress sent to the president's desk.

The situation in Iraq is improving, as I've seen with my own eyes. Despite our cavalcade of errors, there's hope (no audacity required) for a reasonable outcome: an Iraq that treats its citizens decently and that neither harbors terrorists nor menaces its neighbors.

We'll need to sustain a longer commitment than would have been the case had the administration's know-it-alls not regarded our best generals as fools back in 2003. The administration's disgraceful treatment of then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki was paradigmatic of its arrogance.

Meanwhile, those who held power over our military and misused it so disgracefully will never suffer as our military casualties and their families will for the rest of their lives. At most, those privileged men will experience disappointing sales of their self-serving memoirs. Cowards sent heroes to die.

I cannot help repeating the heartbreaking truth that it didn't have to be this hard, this bloody, or this expensive. This is what happens when war is made by amateurs. Has anyone in Washington learned that lesson?

It's a lesson that the left, as well as the right, needs to take to heart. While the Bush administration deserves every lash it gets, domestic opponents of the war have been hypocritical, dishonest and destructive. As this column long has maintained, had President Bill Clinton sent our troops to depose Saddam Hussein, Democrats would have celebrated him as the greatest liberator since Abraham Lincoln.

The problem for the left wasn't really what was done, but who did it. And hatred of Bush actually empowered him - the administration had no incentive to reach out to those who wouldn't reach back, so it just did as it pleased. Today's "antiwar" left also contains plenty of politicians who backed interventions in the Balkans and Somalia, who would be glad to send American troops to Darfur today and who voted for war in Iraq.

Both parties are quick to employ our military. It's the only foreign-policy tool we have that works. Neither party is a peace party - each just wants to pick its own wars. The hypocrisy in Washington is as astonishing as the dishonesty about security needs.

Through it all, amazingly, our young men and women in uniform continue to serve honorably and skillfully, holding together not just Iraq but a fractured world. We whine and bicker. They re-enlist and go back to Iraq and Afghanistan. Where they're targets of scorn for our elitist media.

Given all our mistakes and partisan agendas, it's amazing Iraq is going as well as it is today. The improved conditions in Baghdad and most of the provinces verge on the miraculous, given the situation a year ago. But we've paid a needlessly high price.

As for President Bush, let's face it: He's been our most-inept wartime leader since James Madison fled the White House, leaving his wife behind to save what she could before the British troops arrived with torches.

That said, Bush has displayed one single worthy characteristic (one he shares, oddly enough, with Madison): He won't surrender.

As horribly as Bush performed for our first four years in Iraq, it's still possible to do worse. Both of the Democratic Party's presidential aspirants believe that the answer is to flee, handing the terrorists we've defeated a strategic victory, inviting a genocidal civil war, further destabilizing the Middle East, and sending the message to the world that Americans lack the courage and staying power of our enemies.

Declaring failure isn't the correct re sponse to failure narrowly avoided. Both Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would kill a struggling convalescent. Bush's shambles would become the next administration's catastrophe. As president, Obama or Clinton would finish with far more blood on his or her hands than President Bush has on his.


Was deposing Saddam Hussein a good idea? Yes. I still believe that. It was an act of vision and virtue. It's only a shame we didn't do it competently.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Fugu

Post by Fugu » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:18 pm

Barry wrote:
Fugu wrote:So how many more years, Barry? 10, 20, 50? You seem to think it's ok to occupy another country.
As many as it takes, until it's determined that staying is making it worse than leaving, Dan. And I don't believe that it will take decades to get to that point, at least in terms of having over 100,000 troops who are at risk on a daily basis. Either the effort will fail and we'll have no choice but to leave sooner, or it will succeed to at least an acceptable point and we'll be there in smaller numbers for many years, but not in combat (see South Korea, Germany and Japan). If we take any other route at this point, we'd be risking losing the gains we've made since the start of the surge, thrustin the region into chaos and probably ensuring that we'll be back there eventually, only under much more difficult circumstances than we face now.
Totally naive, especially the part that you think the people in Iraq would allow us there like Germany, South Korea, or Japan.

Barry
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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:22 pm

Their leadership will be signing an agreement with us in the near future that sets up the arrangement. If you think they want us to leave at this point, you're worse off than I thought (and that's saying something :wink: ).

In addition to their disgust over the barbaric behavior of Al Quaeda in Iraq, another key reason many of the Suni tribes switched sides and started fighting with us instead of against us is because with the surge, they finally saw that we were in this to win and weren't preparing to cut and run.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Fugu

Post by Fugu » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:26 pm

Barry wrote:Their leadership will be signing an agreement with us in the near future that sets up the arrangement. If you think they want us to leave at this point, you're worse off than I thought (and that's saying something :wink: ).
The chaos that would ensue if we stayed (where if too long would make most think of us as occupiers--actually they do already) is too great to imagine. Sure, government officials may sign some kind of agreement, but in that agreement there will be a definite point at which the US will not be wanted in-country and will be asked to leave. And that won't be 10, 20, or an infinite time. We never belong there and we don't belong there in the future. Obama or Hillary will get us out within a set time frame. BTW, 2/3 of the US population thinks Iraq was a bad idea. You are in the minority.

Barry
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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:32 pm

Fugu wrote:
Barry wrote:Their leadership will be signing an agreement with us in the near future that sets up the arrangement. If you think they want us to leave at this point, you're worse off than I thought (and that's saying something :wink: ).
The chaos that would ensue if we stayed (where if too long would make most think of us as occupiers--actually they do already) is too great to imagine. Sure, government officials may sign some kind of agreement, but in that agreement there will be a definite point at which the US will not be wanted in-country and will be asked to leave. And that won't be 10, 20, or an infinite time. We never belong there and we don't belong there in the future. Obama or Hillary will get us out within a set time frame. BTW, 2/3 of the country thinks Iraq was a bad idea. You are in the minority.
Yes, and in the most recent poll, over half of Americans now think we'll meet our goals there. But I'm not interested in determining foreign policy by poll numbers. And again, you have it wrong. While it will likely be in significantly smaller numbers than our current troop force in Iraq, we will be there much longer than you think in the tens of thousands; as we've done in the other countries mentioned (if not, it will likely mean we've been defeated or withdrawn prematurely, both of which would be disasterous).

As to you thinking there will be greater chaos if we stay than if we leave in the near future, that's your opinion, and it's not backed up by the weight of military analysis. It would be silly of me to take your word over that of Petraeus and the many analysts I've seen say that a withdraw in the near future would likely make the situation there worse, as opposed to better.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Darryl
Posts: 140
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Location: Dallas, Texas

Post by Darryl » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:38 pm

Barry wrote:..."As for President Bush, let's face it: He's been our most-inept wartime leader since James Madison fled the White House, leaving his wife behind to save what she could before the British troops arrived with torches"
Hey Barry, something in that for everyone, right :wink:

My vote for most-inept goes to another Texan -- LBJ.

Barry
Posts: 10344
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:40 pm

Darryl wrote:
Barry wrote:..."As for President Bush, let's face it: He's been our most-inept wartime leader since James Madison fled the White House, leaving his wife behind to save what she could before the British troops arrived with torches"
Hey Barry, something in that for everyone, right :wink:

My vote for most-inept goes to another Texan -- LBJ.
They both did a lousy job in managing their respective wars, Darryl. I agree. At least Bush eventually switched course and did what he should have done several years earlier.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

keaggy220
Posts: 4721
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:42 pm
Location: Washington DC Area

Post by keaggy220 » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:12 pm

Barry wrote:
Darryl wrote:
Barry wrote:..."As for President Bush, let's face it: He's been our most-inept wartime leader since James Madison fled the White House, leaving his wife behind to save what she could before the British troops arrived with torches"
Hey Barry, something in that for everyone, right :wink:

My vote for most-inept goes to another Texan -- LBJ.
They both did a lousy job in managing their respective wars, Darryl. I agree. At least Bush eventually switched course and did what he should have done several years earlier.
And that is extraordinary for Bush because he is a stubborn man.
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

RebLem
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Post by RebLem » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:30 am

Rummy said it would be six months at the outside. Now, Barry is saying that 13 times that isn't nearly enough. Remember that next time he--or anyone else--recommends going to war. Its just another old fashioned consumer fraud called "bait and switch."

Posted on March 21, 2008, the 305th day before the end of the Cheney Administration. RebLem
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

Barry
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Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Post by Barry » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:11 am

RebLem wrote:Rummy said it would be six months at the outside. Now, Barry is saying that 13 times that isn't nearly enough. Remember that next time he--or anyone else--recommends going to war. Its just another old fashioned consumer fraud called "bait and switch."
Rummy was an idiot who McCain (and I) have both criticized for his lack of planning and the way he handled the war for quite a long time now. The problem with your above statement is that you're saying whenever anyone recommends going to war in the future, we should assume they're lying about the need to do so and the circumstances under which we'll be there. That's nothing short of recommending national suicide at some inevitable point down the line. A woman who I work with who is from the Vietnam/Watergate generation during the Petraeus Congressional testimony in September told me she knows Petraeus is nothing more than a Bush stooge and isn't telling the truth because she knows never to trust anything from authority figures. Some degree of skepticism is fine, but taking that attitude to the extreme like you and this other woman do is remarkably shortsighted and, as I said, a recipe for eventual disaster of the highest order. I see what Corlyss means by some of the comments she makes about the boomer generation (and actually, I'm not sure if you're officially a boomer, but I know it's close). I can imagine what would have happened if people felt that way in 1776, 1861, 1942, etc.
Last edited by Barry on Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

keaggy220
Posts: 4721
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 8:42 pm
Location: Washington DC Area

Post by keaggy220 » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:56 pm

Barry wrote: I can imagine what would have happened if people felt that way in 1776, 1861, 1942, etc.
In can tell you...

21st century liberal mindset in:

1776 - There never would've been a war - taxes are a good thing...

1861 - We'd be working on our 147th year of useless sanctions on cotton.

1942 - We wouldn't have had military in Hawaii and Hitler is Europe's problem.
"I guess we're all, or most of us, the wards of the nineteenth-century sciences which denied existence of anything it could not reason or explain. The things we couldn't explain went right on but not with our blessing... So many old and lovely things are stored in the world's attic, because we don't want them around us and we don't dare throw them out."
— John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent


"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
- Micah 6:8

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