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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Historical Perspective
I have a fantastic link here. But I'm going to set it up first: Perspective is really one of the most valuable things you can have in life. It helps discern endurable or intolerable; bend or break; fight or flight. How else would you know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em? Now, thanks to Jessica's Well, we can apply this magic tool to the situation in Iraq.

Honestly, life in Iraq is not a walk in the park. We've lost too many soldiers, we are bleeding money, we've intensified all kinds of diplomatic stresses. Our military is so heavily committed that we are less able to put pressure on Iran and North Korea. On the other hand, no one said this was going to be easy. And we have eliminated a major dictatorship from the most dictator-rich portion of the globe. If security and the economy improve and if this starts a virtuous cycle of reform in the Middle East, it will be well worth the cost.

Currently, the situation is so complex and fluid and the various reports are so conflicted and incomplete, that it is hard to really, truly grasp the situation. However, this and this at Jessica's Well offer some perspective which suggests America has previously made a smashing success out of a far worse situation. Here is a report from Life magazine on the occupation of Europe in 1946.

The first winter of peace holds Europe in a deathly grip of cold, hunger and hopelessness. In the words of the London Sunday Observer: “Europe is threatened by a catastrophe this winter which has no precedent since the Black Death of 1348.”

These are still more than 25,000,000 homeless people milling about Europe.
[That's the entire population of Iraq. --ed.] In Warsaw nearly 1,000,000 live in holes in the ground. Six million building were destroyed in Russia. Rumania has her worst drought of 50 years, and in Greece fuel supplies are terribly low because the Nazis, during their occupation, decimated the forests. In Italy the wheat harvest, which was a meager 3,450,000 tons in 1944, fell to an unendurable 1,304,000 tons in 1945. In France, food consumption per day averages 1,800 calories as compared with 3,000 calories in the U.S.

Infant mortality is already so high that a Berlin Quaker, quoted in the British press, predicted. “No child born in Germany in 1945 will survive. Only half the children aged less than 3 years will survive.”

[B]lame will fall on the victor nations.


“We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”

Now [liberation] stands in the minds of the civilians for one thing, looting.

Never has American prestige in Europe been lower.

We have swept away Hitlerism, but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease.


This was the running analysis of the post-war efforts in the mainstream American Press in 1946. Nothing in Iraq is that bad. And now Marshall Plan is now hailed as a brilliant success. Sheesh.

Note: Via Little Green Footballs.

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