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The Old Republic

Americans and War

World War II seems to be getting a lot of what might be called revisionist treatment these days.  Such rethinking of history is, on principle, a good thing, although sometimes it does little more than revive old propaganda and partisanship.  It is good, for instance, that people who are concerned by the overgrown and uncurbed monster that the U.S. government has become are taking another and less worshipful look at the motives and accomplishments of Lincoln, where it might be thought the current evil trend began.  Good, too, that the horrible reality of the worldwide conflagration of 1939-45 is making some headway in the public consciousness against the romantic fable of the “Greatest Generation.”

Decent people are quite right to feel that war, which makes up so salient a part of history, is an awful thing, fraught with destruction, death of the innocent, and disastrous unintended consequences.  There is much sobering truth (and shattering of cherished ideals) to be gained by looking anew at the revered statesmen who led their people to war, though societies seldom take the right lessons from history.  Very successful politicians are usually sociopaths.  They believe nothing and say whatever they think it is to their advantage to say.  This description most certainly fits the executive officeholders and senators who are currently plotting war on Ukraine, Syria, and Iran.  The description,...

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