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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, November 24, 2003


Welcome home, Charlie

posted by annatopia at Monday, November 24, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The remains of Charlie Dean were returned to the United States earlier today, and are currently awaiting positive identification in Hawaii. In a departure from current policies, this repatriation was captured by AP photographers:

Let it be clear that I am not posting this picture to exploit Charlie Dean or cause pain to the Dean family. I am posting this picture because it's news and because the image really got me thinking. We've brought three more Americans home from Asia, but there are still (according to DoD figures) 1,875 families who's loved ones are still unaccounted for.
The anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, Charlie Dean's homecoming, Howard Dean's run, and Gulf War 2 converging along the same timeline really got my gears grinding this weekend. While I will not make a direct Vietnam-GW2 comparison, I will say that I can't help but draw some parallels. With Charlie, we have pictures, we have stories from the grieving family, and hopefully the Deans will have closure. But I must ask: where is this same treatment for the 400+ Americans who've perished in the middle east? Why haven't we been told the story of these brave men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice? Where are the injured and maimed? Why haven't we witnessed a national outpouring of sympathy like what happened in Italy recently? Because we haven't been allowed to mourn! Remember, we're supposed to be shopping. /sarcasm
It seems to me that our losses are being swept under a rug, hidden from view, lest the American public finally wake up and demand a solid exit strategy that preserves as many lives as possible while fulfilling our obligations to the Iraqi people. Something similar happened during the Vietnam era. When the body bags started coming home, people began demanding an end to the conflict. And since this war started, I've wondered what the breaking point would be. It wasn't the Chinook, it hasn't been the blackhawks, so I wonder how much death we'll tolerate before the majority of the public demands accountability and a successful repair and exit strategy. Are you aware that we've lost 94 soldiers this month?
And the Kennedy thing... I live in the Dallas area, and there was a large spontaneous gathering of thousands of people in Dealey Plaza this weekend. The conspiracy theorists were out in full force, but so were surviving witnesses and anti-war protesters (lots of anti-Bush signs out there). To think that Kennedy laid out an exit strategy a month before his murder is mind-bloggling. One can't help but wonder how many lives could have been saved if we'd made a clean break. And one can't help but wonder today how many coalition lives could have been saved had we actually had a post-war plan. But to illustrate a key difference between Vietnam and Iraq, we're not exactly holding back communism by occupying Iraq. We're not even holding back Al Quaeda (unless you believe in the "flypaper" theory). From what I understand, there weren't any overt statements in the sixties linking the Vietnam conflict to the domino theory (if I'm incorrect feel free to point that out in the comments), so perhaps the Vietnam protesters used to ask the same questions. What exactly are we doing there, and when will we be able to bring our troops home? That question is certainly appropriate today, what with Bush crafting a lovely little cut-n-run strategy (note that "cut and run" and "exit strategy" are two completely different things).
Okay, perhaps I'm rambling now. But what I'm trying to get across to you is that we seem to once again be at a critical point in our country's history right now just like we were when Kennedy was murdered. We find ourselves embroiled in a burgeoning quagmire with no well-planned or successful end in sight, and Kennedy was trying to avoid getting bogged down in Vietnam at the time of his death. Kennedy swept into the White House on a tide of hope and optimism, and he turned out to be quick hawkish on national security (after all, he's the one who called Krushchev's bluff and saved us from WW3 twice). Howard Dean's campaign is the embodiment of hope and optimism, and he is no dove. He'll do his best to protect us from the global threat of terrorism while enacting progressive reforms here at home. During Kennedy's time, the people still trusted their government. Arguably, his murder was the beginning of the end of that trust. With Howard Dean, we have an opportunity to restore that trust. So yes, in a way, these times are like the sixties all over again. I just hope we get it right this time.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.