Cultural Revolutions

A Replay of the Spanish-American War

The Persian Gulf was recently the scene for a replay of the Spanish-American War. This time our "Manifest Destiny" was the "New World Order." Our Teddy "Rough Rider" Roosevelt was "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf Our "Butcher" Weyler was "Hitler" Hussein. Our Frederic Remington was Peter Arnett. Our "Cuban sugar" was Kuwaiti oil. Both wars were crusades for the liberation of a small and defenseless country from an oppressive, "inhuman," but weak and financially drained power, and both wars were immensely popular, shockingly short, and studded with decisive victories and few battlefield losses.

The analogy of choice, however, remains World War II. The national press continues to compare the ending of the Persian Gulf War with the euphoric defeat of Germany and Japan. As David Brinkley put it, "World War II is no longer America's 'last great war.'" Never mind that our involvement in that war lasted four years, that we entered it because American personnel and materiel had actually been attacked, and never mind that the American Army didn't have to issue "Why We Are Here" cards to our soldiers in the Pacific.

Never mind all of this, because it merely gets in the way of our new national pastime, gloating. Everyone's doing it—the President, the press. Congress, the Army, and apparently every barber and...

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