The real lesson of Vietnam was that so long as you don’t draft college kids they’ll let you do anything you like. Like we are doing today in heading into Afghanistan. But fires and riots at Kent State, plague in Mexico and swarms of rabbits is not a good sign. This could turn on them yet, and in ways unexpected.

“Has either the great God above or his creatures here below designated us to run the Middle East?” asks George McGovern in an essay in the Los Angeles Times this past week.

In the beginning was Gulf War I, which scared the country half to death. When it turned out to be a cakewalk, aggression rose like a swell. The Clinton/Gore administration initiated moves to push NATO into Russia’s backyard, while it was still weak and 90 senators agreed. The lesson here was that aggression was OK so long as you had a few Czech poets who liked Frank Zappa in your support group. It was left to conservative Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina to lead opposition and some of the best foreign policy minds of the time to call it “a mistake of historic proportions.”

The Clinton/Gore initiative was culled from Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and folded into Robert Kagan’s and William Kristol’s Project for a New American Century. Kagan and Kristol are what we found to replace the old-fashioned State Department. All presidents starting with Clinton do exactly what they say. The Kagan/Kristol plan was Phase 1 of an idea conceived to confirm our country and culture to be primarily Western, European and Christian and to establish this in a new global matrix, so we would not have to worry about those inscrutable Chinese gaining on us. This was the matrix that Clintonism, which used to be called the Democratic Party, thought would be a good thing because Bill would be god king with Al Gore a kind of wuss (William Shatner’s description) sideman talking about global warming as they advanced the sales of millions of Buicks into China.

Then the plan entered Phase 2 with the Bush/Cheney/Wolfowitz invasion of Iraq in the wake of Sept. 11. This month, April 2009, when Helen and Harry Highwater’s Unknown News claims that at least 723,206 people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since the U.S. and coalition attacks, based on the lowest credible estimates and as the largest American embassy in the world opens in Iraq, President ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE, gilded by an astonishing crop of hagiographers and proselytizers who present him to us as an absurd composite of Kennedy, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Jesus — and unfortunately, he plays upon this formula himself — brings Phase 3, when he advances the same systematic aggression into Afghanistan and the Upper Dir in Pakistan.

”Our policymakers in Washington contend that we must maintain U.S. troops in the Middle East to curb terrorism. I strongly believe that it is our military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East that is driving terrorism against the United States,” writes McGovern. “No country that longs for national sovereignty wants a foreign army in its midst.”

Barack Obama is Kagan’s dream come true: a happy-face version of Dick Cheney.

It was the innocence and naïveté of the new Irish Catholic president that advanced us into an intractable situation in Vietnam in the early 1960s. The same tragic innocence drives us again into the Punjab.

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