In search of monsters to destroy
'Fiasco', 'The Forever War', 'Descent into Chaos' - the titles of recent books capture the consensus on the US entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pankaj Mishra asks whether a new president will change the crazy logic of American militarism
Pankaj Mishra The Guardian, October 4 2008
We are winning in Iraq, John McCain declared in the presidential debate last week, "and we will come home with victory and with honour." This may sound like some perfunctory keep-the-pecker-up stuff from a former military man. But the Republican candidate, who believes that the "surge" has succeeded in Iraq, also possesses the fanatical conviction that heavier bombing and more ground troops could have saved the United States from disgrace in Vietnam.
On the same occasion, Barack Obama, who seems more aware of the costs of American honour to the American economy, claimed he would divert troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and, if necessary, order them to assault "safe havens" for terrorists in Pakistan's wild west. Both candidates sought the imprimatur of Henry Kissinger, the co-alchemist, with Richard Nixon, of the "peace with honour" formula in Vietnam, which turned out to include the destruction of neighbouring Cambodia.
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