Santayana said that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, we are currently ruled by those singularly ignorant of both past and present. As the ongoing disaster of Iraq unfolds, fewer and fewer Republicans are willing to stick by the President. For most of them, and many Democrats, this has been a deathbed conversion inspired by November's election results.

One Republican who saw the light early is conservative Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina. James Pinkerton tells his story on the Huffington Post:

"If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied."

Those bitter words do not come from some folk-singing anti-war protestor. They come from a conservative Englishman, Rudyard Kipling, in his collection, "Epitaphs of the Great War." And those same words were heard today on Capitol Hill from Rep. Walter Jones, a conservative Republican of North Carolina.

I urge you to read Pinkerton's story, linked above, but I found a special resonance in another Kipling Poem, quoted by dap in the comments:

Mesopotamia (July, 1917)
They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide -
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us - their death could not undo -
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

I think Mr. Kipling is speaking pretty clearly across 80 years: Impeach Bush. Impeach Cheney. They lied. Over three thousand Americans and countless Iraqis died as a direct result. We should not let them quietly go "with years and honour to the grave".


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