Booknotes is at the Chicago Tribune book festival; Richard Engel’s lengthy time in Iraq is recorded in My Five Years in Iraq. (Rerun tonight after midnight.) Five years matured his sense of the war; he gives a broader and longer perspective than we see from many seasoned reporters. (His analysis of the last year supports Shannon’s argument below.) Federick Kagan’s “Voting for Commander in Chief” takes the movement over the time Engel describes and weighs it against speeches by the candidates.
He pierces the ploy of childhood games, where a “redo” might freeze us at an earlier moment in time: when, say, the Ottoman Empire included Spain or when, say, Iraq was falling apart in sectarian violence and Obama’s position seemed (somewhat) sound. If we were living in an alternate universe, this might work. For many reasons, most of us are thankful we haven’t dropped into that dimension.