I no longer follow electoral politics as closely as I once did, but one question that continues to interest me is how the Democrats might redefine themselves or sharpen their message. If Nancy Pelosi's "New Direction for America" is any clue, then they still have some work to do. Rather than offering a bland smorgasboard of policy positions, I think they'd be much better served by going after the alternative energy issue full bore. Reducing "dependence on foreign oil" is nice, but reducing dependence on oil PERIOD is not only a saner policy, but one more likely than ever to grab the electorate's attention and revive the can-do spirit that used to characterize our national endeavors. America's future energy is a moral, domestic, national security, and foreign policy issue all wrapped in one, and the sooner our leaders realize it the better. If conservatives won't take a bold lead on this issue, as they ought to, then someone will have to. Nature abhors a vacuum.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I finally finished reading Max Hastings' Armageddon about the battle for Germany in WWII. As always, reading about that horrific conflict gives one some much needed perspective about the current state of affairs in the world. The numbers of soldiers and civilians killed in Germany alone in just the first few months of 1945 is, quite literally, beyond our comprehension today. We are accustomed to thinking of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the ultimate horror of that war, but in fact those two cities--indeed, the entirety of Japan--suffered far less than did Germany, both in terms of civilian deaths and destruction of infrastructure. It's strange to admit, but--had it been possible--it would have been far more compassionate to drop atomic bombs on Germany than to subject them to the horrors of the Allied aerial campaigns and the subsequent Russian occupation.
It's even stranger to admit, considering the popular perception of WWII in the U.S., that no matter how noble our cause in that war, its termination did not in fact mark the triumph of democracy over tyranny, but merely the replacement of one tyranny for another in the entire eastern half of Europe. Without the millions of Russian lives that Stalin eagerly sacrificed on the Eastern front, the Western Allies alone could never have defeated Nazi Germany.
At any rate, I recommend this book to anyone in good need of a healthy dose of historical perspective.