I find your government dreadfully difficult to understand. Can you answer a
few questions for me?
Why did the government have your own people's monks killed? Why does your
Army support your Dictator instead of joining the people in establishing
freedom, the way we won freedom in our country, years ago? Why do your Dictators
not want you to have freedom? Why, of all things, did they insult the heritage
of your people by changing the name of your own country? And why did they change
the name of the capital - and then change the capital itself?
I suppose your Dictators will not allow you to answer these questions.
That's how Dictators are - Stalin, Hitler, and that silly Dictator of yours who
was on TV inspecting an umbrella factory, of all the silly things, while monks
were seeking freedom.
"No lie can live forever," Martin Luther King said. Freedom WILL come to
your country, as it has to other oppressed peoples, and your Dictators will join
the likes of Mobutu and Conescu in the dustbin of history. I hope and pray you
will not have to wait too long. In the meantime, be assured that throughout the
world, all right-thinking people are on your side, as you seek to rid yourselves
of these evil Dictators who keep you in bondage.
Ken Burns "The War," about World War II, is pretty intense, with no punches pulled - about the Bataan death march, concentration camps, Japanese POW camps, all the horrors - men speaking of horrors they experienced.
My favorite person they kept interviewing was a lady from Mobile, Alabama, who was a college coed during the War. She had a quiet but uncannily precise way of putting into words what everybody felt but nobody could have said quite as well, whether it was the feeling about Pearl Harbor, or hearing FDR on the radio, or FDR's death. Of course, she loved FDR.
(Another great moment on the show was hearing one vet say, "You know, my parents were Republicans, and they HATED FDR, but we young people all loved him, because he spoke of what America's possibilities were, and he gave us hope.")
The series was uneven. I didn't watch all of it. Sometimes, I found it boring or uninspiring; other times, I found it way too intense - there is only so much human suffering I can be a first-hand spectator to. I understand better now why my father (whose most intense experience, the amphibian landings at Anzio, where he was recognized for heroism as an ambulance driver who kept going after 2 of his ambulances were hit by shells as he drove them, not only was highlighted, but they actually had interviews with a fellow-medic in his platoon) was so shaken by his war experiences. Being strong, he didn't suffer the post-traumatic stress disorder others did. Rather, it affected him at a deeper level of his soul - for a time, it caused him to lose his faith, but ultimately, like Dostoievski, the experience of losing it caused him to find it, and commit himself to it, on a deeper level.
Particularly intense and horrific were the scenes of the Nazi death camps, and the interviews with GI's who helped liberate them. I wish Holocaust deniers could be made to watch those scenes; I was particularly struck by the white Alabaman with a thick Southern accent, who addressed himself directly to "people who say it didn't happen" and told them, "Well, it happened."
One of the people I respect most in the United States Senate, Richard Lugar, has broken with President Bush on Iraq, feeling he needed to do so publicly before the President prepares his own evaluation. Senator Lugar said that we are not achieving good results in Iraq, it is putting our foreign and defense policy as a whole on the defensive, placing a terrible burden on our armed forces, and making it tough for them to fulfill their missions elsewhere, including Afghanistan.
Apart from the fact he makes sense, my respect for him crystallizes my own view. While Lugar does not call for full-scale withdrawal, he thinks the time has come to begin to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq. I think he is right. While I was inclined to wait till September, like Congress, to see if the surge works, guided by Senator Lugar, I am inclined now to support reduction in troop levels and a gradual "Iraqization" of the war.