I was very much struck by his final three paragraphs, which I will quote without interruption before I offer my thoughts below the fold.
In the flood of anniversary commentary, notice how often the term "the lost decade" has been invoked. We know now, as we should have known all along, that American strength always depends first on our strength at home - on a vibrant, innovative and sensibly regulated economy, on levelheaded fiscal policies, on the ability of our citizens to find useful work, on the justice of our social arrangements.
This is not "isolationism." It is a common sense that was pushed aside by the talk of "glory" and "honor," by utopian schemes to transform the world by abruptly reordering the Middle East - and by our fears. While we worried that we would be destroyed by terrorists, we ignored the larger danger of weakening ourselves by forgetting what made us great.
We have no alternative from now on but to look forward and not back. This does not dishonor the fallen heroes, and Lincoln explained why at Gettysburg. "We can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground," he said. "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract." The best we could do, Lincoln declared, was to commit ourselves to "a new birth of freedom." This is still our calling.
We can sugar coat it, or face the truth. We can learn from history, or not. The course we choose will determine our future in ways we can hardly imagine. And, yet, as I write this, our nation persists in a version of Fantasyland, unencumbered by history. The current American Prospect contains an article taking on what Wall Streeters call "talking your book." According to the article here, talking your book means: "trying to get events to match up with the bets on your balance sheet." We're very familiar with the tactic in Washington, where we call it "spinning."
Our lives are saturated with such spin. Outside of Wall Street, some of the most egregious examples include the military contractor speak which embraces terms such as "spreading freedom" (though war); "democracy in a box," and "grand strategy," (as if all the variables in the world could be captured in one model). Today, in Part 1, I address the hazards of the first of these. I contend that we in the US cannot spread democracy by bombing another country, especially when that country did not attack us. Many of us have argued this point till we are "blue" in the face. But hegemonic-, military-, and military contractor- speak try to persuade otherwise. And, despite the evidence, many still buy what the talking-your-book spinners tell us.