Two pieces deal with the likelihood that rightists will spend the next few decades trying to convince themselves and the voting public that the reason the war in Iraq was such a disaster was that the left stabbed America in the back. A column by Eric Alterman compares the rumblings to this effect that we have already heard to the Nazi movement’s claim that Germany’s defeat in the 1914-1918 War was due to a Jewish plot to stab the country in the back. A review essay by Rick Perlstein takes on recent books claiming that the USA was at some point close to success in Vietnam, dismantling the scholarly pretensions of these books and using Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ theory of the stages of grief to argue that when an American military intervention turns out badly, hawks “begin with denial, anger, and bargaining, just like you and me. And that’s where they stay- forever paralyzed by a petulant refusal to acknowledge their fantasy’s passing, a simple inability to process reality.”
The article that made me the angriest documented a systematic effort on the part of the army to pressure doctors to misdiagnose wounded Iraq vets so that they would not qualify for disability benefits. Hardly less angering was an article about the immunity that mercenary gangs like Blackwater Corporation enjoy for murders and other crimes committed in Iraq.
The closest thing to light entertainment in the issue was Jane Smiley’s review of the memoirs of Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, two of the founders of the contemporary Christian Right. Schaeffer’s rebellion against his parents’ beliefs and his horrifying descriptions of the personalities of leading evangelists seem to be part of a lively, interesting personality.