Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Wars End

Jeb Sharp looks at Iraq through the prism of the American Civil War, as part of her amazing radio series for PRI on "How Wars End".

This 12-minute segment blew me away. It carefully covers the ground most American kids learned in grade school and then, bam, before you know we're going from Appomattox and the American Reconstruction to reconstruction in Iraq.

Most impressive of all, it leaves you thinking, "Wow, why didn't anyone make that connection before?"

You can also read the transcript but the audio had a much greater impact on me.

Here's a taste:

Sharp: Ayers thinks the messy struggle that followed the war is one reason Americans cling to the story of Appomattox. He says the gentlemanly handshake between two great generals gives us the illusion of a clean ending.

Ayers: “We just love that story, not thinking about days after that Abraham Lincoln's assassinated, two years after that military reconstruction begins, a decade after that Reconstruction finally comes to an end. Americans are most uncomfortable with the period of Reconstruction of anything else in our history, because it's not a story, it doesn't have any kind of shape to it, it just kind of explodes.”

Sharp: After the invasion of Iraq, Ayers was dismayed that in all the public debate over post-war reconstruction in 21st century Iraq, no one bothered to look at post-war reconstruction in the 19th century American South. After all, it involved many of the same elements: military occupation, democracy-building and economic development. But administration officials and pundits alike ignored it.

1 comment:

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