A Long Hallucination of War

As TV broadcasts battle preparations, Americans ponder the moral case for war

Two military precedents flicker almost subliminally through the mind when Americans imagine war with Iraq: the conflict might look like the Six-Day War. Or it might look like Vietnam.

Those are the hypothetical extremes: best case, worst case. Americans in a muscular frame of mind (not quite trusting it, however) like to think that they might repeat Israel's 1967 victory: the brilliant lightning strikes, the armies flashing across the desert, the war over quicker than Saturday-morning cartoons.

At the other emotional pole, the depressive version presents itself, all darkness: a memory of Vietnam's self-delusions and waste, its follies on an epic...

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