Bill Kristol Wishes You’d All Just Stop Being ‘Bitter’ About WWI So We Can Get Back to Being Awesome
The Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol seems to really like war.
In a characteristically pompous editorial this week, cable news’ favorite neoconservative lamented how 100 years after World War I, American society just needs to grow a pair and move on from the horrors of that war so we can get back to kicking ass and taking names.
Kristol noted how post-WWI America seems to “live in the shadows” of Wilfred Owen‘s timeless anti-war poem that called Roman poet Horace‘s phrase “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country” an outright “lie.” The Standard editor moaned that after WWI, “the earnestness yielded to bitterness, the respect to disgust.”
But… there’s hope! Perhaps 2014, the centennial marker of that terrible war, will “mark a moment of questioning, even of reversal?” he asked. Maybe, just maybe, he aspired, Americans will ditch the bitterness about war and “acknowledge the meaning, recognize the power, and learn the lessons of 1914 without succumbing to an apparently inexorable gravitational pull toward a posture of ironic passivity or fatalistic regret in the face of civilizational decline.”
Sure, “no sensitive person can fail to be moved by Owen’s powerful lament, and no intelligent person can ignore his chastening rebuke,” Kristol conceded. “But perhaps a century of increasingly unthinking bitter disgust with our heritage is enough.”
YEAH, that’s enough, you weak-kneed Americans. Maybe it’s just time to move on from those horrific images of millions upon millions of dead bodies strewn about bombed-out battlefields. Mustard gas? Pshhh. One of the deadliest conflicts in human history fought over basically nothing? Pshhh.
Move on, wimps, and instead of keeping “fatalistic,” “bitter” poems like Owen’s in the back of your mind, Kristol added, we should heed the lost final verse from our national anthem [emphasis added]:
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Say, does his editorial sound like a transparent plea for everyone to just be okay with rampant American interventionism again, or what? (A.k.a., “Buy my magazine!”)
Hey, speaking of those artsy-fartsy WWI eulogies that cloud the mind and prevent us from recognizing the awe and magical wonder of military power, here’s Radiohead’s heartbreaking ode to the Great War’s last surviving soldier, Harry Patch, who died in 2009 and was known for his ruminations on the futility of war:
[h/t Jesse Walker / Reason]
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