hunt05's daylog, above, points out the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the national policy behind the Iraq war. My Republican friends are quick to say it's not a war, it's a peacetime stabilization effort. Huh. Tell that to the servicemen's families. It is a distinction without a difference.

riverrun's homenode should make you upset at the leader of our country. He's an idiot. He's a truculent little boy who's been placed in a suit and told to act as if he was the president of the most powerful country in the free world. The suit and the trappings of power don't change a thing: he's still an idiot.

Now in the maelstrom of everyday life, idiots are usually boulders around which the water flows rather easily. But this idiot affects every single American citizen. He also affects the lives of people living in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea...

My wife and I participated in a candlelight vigil two weeks ago, a silent protest against the United States' wrongheaded involvement in Iraq. There was an air of unreality about it, for me. I've been involved in military and state affairs for a long time - most of my professional career, though never as a soldier. My view of democracy, as practiced by the western liberal democracies of our time, are generally positive. These views have been shaped by the long views afforded us by history. Having read Plutarch and Caesar and St. Augustine of Hippo and modern histories too countless to name here, I'm aware of how precious and fragile a thing democracy is. The Chinese are absolutely right to regard democracy as an experiment in the history of human self-governance - an experiment which has not yet come to an end. Fukuyama is wrong: this is not the end of history, if history is considered as a laboratory experiment ending in a final report. It's still very much at the petri dish level. It may be somewhat of an understatement to say that I am not a naive believer in western liberal democracies. I believe this experiment is worth fighting for, and I believe that thousands of years of human history bears out this view.

I am troubled at the leadership of this country. These views are shared by many in the government and the Dept. of Defense who cannot vocalize their views without harming their careers. It is especially troubling to those of us who vividly remember another terrible president: Richard M. Nixon. In some ways it is an unfair comparison, since Nixon was a small venal man, corrupt to his core, whereas even W's staunchest critics do not doubt Bush's inner core of goodness and sincerity. But what we remember so vividly about the Nixon White House is its closed ranks, its us-versus-them mentality, and its willingness to punish with breathtaking ruthlessness American citizens willing to stand up to corrupt Nixon policies in the name of the higher ideals of democracy. We remember that, because we're seeing it all again, right here, right now.

We wish we could shake this country and say, "Don't you remember the terrible lessons of Vietnam?" "Don't you remember what Nixon taught us?" This will all end badly.

I held a candle, that evening two weeks ago, while cars were driving by and kids were honking to show support, or perhaps just to express their exuberance with life, it's so hard to tell. Most of the candleholders were older. Most of us remembered Nixon. Most of us remembered Vietnam. Many of us know children or grandchildren who are involved in today's war, or who know children who have grown up on our suburban streets, whom we have coached in soccer or baseball or basketball, who are now serving under arms in a very hostile part of the world where the rules of engagement are confusing and change with the sands. We want them to come back, safely, to their sweethearts and to their extended families.

Truth be told, many of us were feeling like relics. How silly we looked holding candles. How silly, unless you knew how many of us were patriots. How silly, unless you saw my wife in pearls and patrician stare, the unwavering gaze that have made generals blink. How silly, unless you've ever rubbed your fingers against the lettering of the name of a relative on the Vietnam War Memorial wall. How silly, unless you've ever attended a funeral at Arlington National Cemetary.