Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Do you ever read Ben Stein? The reason Ben's done TV and now writes fairly regularly for the NY Times. A patriotic and always "supporting the troops" sort of guy. His latest article deals with how things have changed in what the military means to people. In the old days, it was something that everybody did: regardless of position in life: rich or poor. Of course, it was WW II but in this latest article he laments what has happened.

The old days, the rich, the famous, they all put it aside to fight. Now who fights for us: "Southerners, Hispanics from New Mexico, rural men and women from upstate NY. Small town boys and girls from the Midwest." No children of the powers on Wall Street go off and fight? They don't fight for the system that made them rich or won't fight for the way of life that made them princes of finance. So says Ben and I agree.

Ben says that Israel possibly should try on this theory: the reason that Hisbollah has bested Israel is that Israel has gotten soft. Israel, the shining light of military might beaten to a standoff by a very motivated and better led thousand or so fighters.

Ben says and I don't think I'm putting words in his mouth. "These people (hezbollah) see it as a privilege to fight and die for their beliefs, even if we think they're insane. And, the rest of them line up to blow themselves up for their vision of heaven. And all the while we are saying "let the other poor sap to it..I've got to make money."

This sounds like a tangent but it dovetails with The Unexcused Absence of the Upper Classes from Military Service. Stein is relentless, "how can we fight this fight with the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to make money. How can we fight this fight with the upper class absent. If Israel cannot muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway, USA will never be able to do it."

He was talking about how much we're in a bind, what about Iraq?Everybody hates us, etc.; then he said the ones that enable us to live such a good life in America are those who fight for us, whether we agree or not. And, this is what worries him most of all, we keep going about our stuff, collecting our goodies without any realization that it could end, that there are those like soldiers who make all the sacrifices.

He's right, we're in a war with people who are evangelized to kill us. I mean, nobody seems to want to admit that the Middle East is a strange, timeless place where nothing has changed for thousands of years. Hatreds that have existed for generations are not going away. These people can't be reasoned with. We will never understand it.

All that said, there are, as someone recently reminded me, as I was railing against our mismanagement of Iraq--there is some encouragement in the world: what? Europe is getting involved in Lebanon in keeping the peace. Finding a nugget here and there is a good thing.