"Things are as they are, and their consequences will be what they will be. Why then should we seek to be deceived?"
Columnist Stewart Alsop, dead now these 30 years, once closed a column with this quote from the philosopher Bishop Berkeley. His column, I believe, was about Vietnam.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we, too, can see the shape of things to come.
In the ideology of "democratic fundamentalism" to which George W. Bush converted after 9/11, we are simply in a rough patch on the glory road to a democratic Middle East and "the end of tyranny on this earth."
In reality, our situation has never been more grim.
The successful experiment that featured the "freest, fairest elections ever held" in Palestine is dead. Over 125 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. The Gaza Strip is a shambles. The terror wing of Hamas will have no trouble recruiting in the rubble.
The same is true of Lebanon. The "Cedar Revolution" was a Bush success, a beacon of hope. That Hezbollah won a dozen seats only seemed to prove that the elections had indeed been free, fair and open to all.
Now Lebanon is in ruin. The 900 dead, thousands wounded, the million refugees, the smashed infrastructure and the scores of thousands of Westerners who have fled means years before Lebanon recovers, if ever she does. Arab hatred of Israel and America is pandemic.
Hezbollah ignited the hostilities. But it was Israel that escalated to rain destruction on a people and nation that had not countenanced or condoned Hezbollah's provocation, but condemned it.
Think back. Had Reagan done to Lebanon, when half a dozen Americans were seized as hostages, what Israel has done, when two soldiers were taken hostage, Democrats would have denounced Reagan as a war criminal. Conservatives would have begged him to ease up.
Yet, almost to a man and woman, our politicians are falling all over one another to express their 100 percent support of what Israel has done to Lebanon. Even Israelis must feel a measure of contempt for this kind of groveling.
Indeed, in Israel, dissent against the blitzkrieg is rising, and the Olmert regime is being challenged and even condemned by courageous Israelis for letting the air force have a free hand to smash Lebanon.
Moving on to Iraq, where the war has lasted as long as our war on Nazi Germany, Gen. John Abizaid is warning that a descent into civil war is now possible, and Bush concedes that, three years and three months after "Mission Accomplished," the situation in Baghdad is "terrible."
Questions now on the table are: Will America let go? Will Iraq break apart? Americans are not all that far away from a strategic disaster.