03 October 2009

"The past isn't past . . "

In his 1983 book, "Writing History and Making Policy: The Cold War, Vietnam, and Revisionism," Richard Melanson wrote this:

" . . . history and policy rarely stand in isolation from one another, and both private and official recollections of the past help to determine attitudes toward the present and plans for the future."

We have a current fascinating example of that in the Obama administration as they contemplate what to do next in Afghanistan. This piece from Frank Rich beautifully describes how an interpretation of Vietnam by Gordon Goldstein ("Lessons in Disaster") is having an effect on the Obama team. As I read the Rich op-ed it was brought home to me again just how pervasive the memory of Vietnam is among those in power and, perhaps, by the general population. Who says that history is a dead subject? As Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead, it isn't even past."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/opinion/27rich.html

2 comments:

tomerona said...

This is a very interesting column and perspective on the parallels between President Kennedy's dilemma with Vietnam and President Obama's conundrum with Afghanistan This is absolutely a case of history repeating itself and a tremendous opportunity to analyze the past to help with making a decision about the present situation.

No matter what decision the president finally chooses, there is certain to be plenty of second guessing and criticizing. In the end, only time will tell whether his careful balancing of the advice, opinions and the ideas from his advisers, will lead to a path out of the quagmire into a stable and peaceful region and a safer geo-political situation.

A we think we have difficult decisions to make!

-Mr. Chambers

tomerona said...

This is a very interesting column and perspective on the parallels between President Kennedy's dilemma with Vietnam and President Obama's conundrum with Afghanistan This is absolutely a case of history repeating itself and a tremendous opportunity to analyze the past to help with making a decision about the present situation.

No matter what decision the president finally chooses, there is certain to be plenty of second guessing and criticizing. In the end, only time will tell whether his careful balancing of the advice, opinions and the ideas from his advisers, will lead to a path out of the quagmire into a stable and peaceful region and a safer geo-political situation.

A we think we have difficult decisions to make!

-Mr. Chambers