Ken wrote in a comment on the "Invasion and Occupation" thread,
I don't know what to do anymore. The urge to give up, to not vote, to withdraw is overwhelming. But we can't. Can we? No, we can't give up, which doesn't mean we must go to every fight we're invited to. It also means we don't have the luxury of giving in to that sense of helplessness we all feel.
It may seem to be an incredibly long string of defeats, but it depends on where we start from. If we took it for granted things have mostly been just and fair throughout American History, and the Indochina Wars were an anomaly, it does seem inexplicable. If we accept the cultural myth that ordinary people have power because it's the American Way, we wonder why "our" government is so unresponsive.
It was these questions, in part, which drove me back to the study of American History after I came back to "the World". I am more convinced, after thirty five years as Amateur and Professional, that the U S invasion of Indochina was not an anomaly, but just another damned example, and that ordinary people only rarely and indirectly make political decisions, and don't follow through very well.
My point is, we are not working against forty years only, and a rare mistake, but the American Experience for over four hundred years; Vietnam is who we have always been, and the rest of the world has begun to tell us so, which may be, much as I hate to consider the possibility that there may be one, a positive contribution by Dubya. His callous arrogance has finally pushed the rest of the world far enough to get them to say what they really think of us.
One of the themes that made this history possible was the notion, derived in part from Puritan views of their New World mission, that America was to be an example--"a city on a hill"--for the rest of the world to emulate. Once they meet us, they will do their best to be us--native peoples, exploited immigrants, other countries, etc. Given this belief, it may be difficult for us to hear that they don't want to be invaded, used for cheap resources and labor, etc., so we may continue to lord it over them as "the only Hyperpower".
It may be one of those "camel and needle" jokes, only I'm not laughing. Individually, most Americans are good people you'd like to know; collectively, we are the world's a**hole. So, despair is not an option, even though the job is a little bigger than we allow ourselves to notice most of the time.
Peace and solidarity, all y'all.