freedom fries tower

I often print things I want to read, then put them in The Pile, where they sit until I have adequate time and mental space to give them my attention. As a consequence, I am often reading two- or three-week old stories, but reading them thoroughly, when I can focus.

In that spirit, I finally got around to reading Frank Rich's "Ground Zero Is So Over", which ran two weeks ago in the New York Times (here saved from the virtual trash heap by Common Dreams).

Here's an excerpt:
But what has most separated America from the old exigencies of 9/11 - and therefore from the fate of ground zero - is, at long last, the decoupling of the war on terror from the war on Iraq. The myth fostered by the administration that Saddam Hussein conspired in the 9/11 attacks is finally dead and so, apparently, is the parallel myth that Iraqis were among that day's hijackers. Our initial, post-9/11 war against Al Qaeda - the swift and decisive victory over the Taliban - is now seen as both a discrete event and ancient history (as is the hope of nailing Osama bin Laden dead or alive); Afghanistan itself has fallen off the American radar screen except as a site for burgeoning poppy production and the deaths of detainees in American custody. In its place stands only the war in Iraq, which is increasingly seen as an add-on to the war provoked by 9/11 and whose unpopularity grows by the day.

Take a look at any recent poll you choose - NBC/Wall Street Journal, Harris, CNN/Gallup/USA Today - and you find comparable figures of rising majority disapproval of the war. Or ignore the polls and look at those voting with their feet: the Army has missed its recruiting goals three months in a row, and the Marines every month since January, despite reports of scandalous ethical violations including the forging of high-school diplomas and the hoodwinking of the mentally ill by unscrupulous recruiters. Speaking bitterly about the Army's strenuous effort to cover up his son's death by friendly fire, Pat Tillman's father crystallized the crisis in an interview with The Washington Post last week: "They realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about this death got out. They blew up their poster boy." [Internal links mine.]
Rich runs through the latest issues of the crazy soap opera called Rebuilding Lower Manhattan, noting, "And so ground zero remains a pit, a hole a void. . . . Though the vacant site is a poor memorial for those who died there, it's an all too apt symbol for a war on which the country is turning its back." Read the essay here.


B. W. Ventril said...

I really, really, really like Frank Rich... in fact, he's fast becoming my favourite columnist. I don't have any words of wisdom, but I just wanted to say that!

L-girl said...

He is great. I used to know him when I worked in the theatre and he was a theatre critic for the Times. But he's really come into his own as a columnist. He has that ability to pull together so many disparate ideas around a central point. Lewis Lapham is another who does that incredibly well.

Rich is married to another Times writer, Alex Witchel. Which has nothing to do with anything.