Then and Now: Hubris and Bravado

Friday, July 08, 2005

Then and Now: Hubris and Bravado

I've just begun reading Bruce Cumings' recent book, North Korea, and a few paragraphs in the opening chapter made me wonder how much our country's thinking has advanced over the last fifty-odd years.
Back in 1950:

"Americans died in Korea because their commanders had no idea who they were fighting. A disastrous misjudgment of Koreans began right at the top, the day the war began. 'I can handle it with one arm tied behind my back,' (General Douglas) McArthur said; the next day he remarked ... that if he could only put the First Cavalry Division into Korea, 'Why, heavens, you'd see [the North Korean army] scuddle up to the Manchurian border so quick, you would see no more of them.' "

Bruce Cumings, North Korea, 2004, (The New Press: New York)


"George W Bush flew off a U.S. aircraft carrier yesterday straight to another triumphant rally hailing the success of American troops .... His speech at sea was delivered in front of 2,000 sailors whose smiles, cheers and claps were captured on live television .... A banner proclaiming 'Mission Accomplished' hung from the ship's superstructure."

The Telegraph, May 3, 2003

"There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave (Iraq) prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on."

President George W. Bush, July 2003

The Iraqi insurgency is in "the last throes."

Vice President Dick Cheney, May 2005

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