Michael Kinsley has a way of getting to the heart of the matter that I truly envy, of taking an impossibly complex subject and translating it into bite-sized pieces that even the feebleminded like me can readily grasp:
Like generals, anti-war protesters are always fighting the last war. Or in this case, depending on how you count, the war-before-last. The methods, the style, the arguments, the very language of objecting to war are still stuck in Vietnam. That’s why the protests of the past couple of weeks have seemed so lame and retro. The Vietnam debate was primarily a moral one. Although the cost of victory became an important factor as the years went on, it was not the main factor turning people against that war. Americans ultimately decided it was a victory we shouldn’t even want. In the case of Iraq, by contrast, few people think the goal of overturning Saddam Hussein is immoral. If we knew for sure it would be as easy and cheap as the administration hopes, few folks would object.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.