With Tom Ridge following Colin Powell out the White House revolving door, George Bush has finally completed his purge of Vietnam veterans from the Cabinet. Call it the revenge of the Deferment Generation.
In mourning over this latest “spend more time with my family” loss, Americans in airports across the nation removed their jackets, shoes and cowboy belt buckles. Some even consoled each other with quick frisks and pat-downs.
You can tell I find it hard to know whether to laugh, cry, or shout over his departure. Ridge’s Homeland Security Department represented the War on Terrorism in its Dadaist mode: a series of pointless provocations involving color codes, duct tape, suspiciously-timed alerts and endless talk about terrorist “chatter.”
But while Ridge made us feel less secure at home, Donald Rumsfeld and his fellow Chicken Hawks actually did make us less secure abroad with a “fight them over there” strategy that has worked all too well. Two years, 150,000 soldiers, and tens of thousands of American and Iraqi lives later, and we have yet to secure Baghdad’s airport road. Each month the number of casualties rises. November was the worst of the entire war.
What was sold as an easy battle in our latest War On An Abstract Concept has become another dreaded “quagmire”–a black hole for American prestige, treasure and blood. This is tragedy replaying itself as farce. And we have the men who avoided service in Vietnam to thank.