By: E&P Staff
The late David Halberstam, in what may have been his final article, penned an essay on the president, the Iraq war and history for Vanity Fair, now available online.
It’s titled “The History Boys” and opens as follows. The entire piece is now at www.vanityfair.com
We are a long way from the glory days of Mission Accomplished, when the Iraq war was over before it was over?indeed before it really began?and the president could dress up like a fighter pilot and land on an aircraft carrier, and the nation, led by a pliable media, would applaud. Now, late in this sad, terribly diminished presidency, mired in an unwinnable war of their own making, and increasingly on the defensive about events which, to their surprise, they do not control, the president and his men have turned, with some degree of desperation, to history. In their view Iraq under Saddam was like Europe dominated by Hitler, and the Democrats and critics in the media are likened to the appeasers of the 1930s. The Iraqi people, shorn of their immensely complicated history, become either the people of Europe eager to be liberated from the Germans, or a little nation that great powerful nations ought to protect. Most recently in this history rummage sale?and perhaps most surprisingly?Bush has become Harry Truman.
We have lately been getting so many history lessons from the White House that I have come to think of Bush, Cheney, Rice, and the late, unlamented Rumsfeld as the History Boys. They are people groping for rationales for their failed policy, and as the criticism becomes ever harsher, they cling to the idea that a true judgment will come only in the future, and history will save them.