war to end all war, or?

The only actual rationale for an Iraqi war was recently provided by Richard Perle, a leader of the Administration’s neoconservative hawks. "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism," Perle told the New York Times.

Each of the governments which entered into a World War in 1914 felt compelled to do so largely for the same reason argued by Perle. Each felt that if it did not take action, its legitimacy, its power, would be undermined or dissolved. But that is precisely what their acts of war accomplished anyway, as apparently no one in Washington knows or cares, but only after the end of a world, and the death of about eight million combatants (not counting civilians--and there would be civilians this time). The twenty-year intermission, the second act (World War II) and, finally, the epilogue of the Cold War totally buried the horrible record of even the 1914-1918 production.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.-
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

[The Latin reads, "It is sweet and proper to die for one's country"--Horace]

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Published on August 24, 2002 2:33 PM.

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