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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Reconstruction - Est. April 9, 1865

Today is the Fifth Anniversary of the Fall of Baghdad to US troops. I just heard that on Fox News Radio. I noticed they didn't bother to cloak it either. The days of referring to "coalition forces" are long gone. Just think, we could have declared victory and left Iraq on April 10th, 2003.

Today is also the date of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, VA.

April 9th, 1865 was Palm Sunday. The Federal Government declared victory and then left all of our people to negotiate what victory meant for the next 150 years.

It's easy to forget that Federal occupation and martial law lasted until 1876 in some southern states. The war ended with no real plan for economic rebuilding of the south (although private capital "investment" from the North was seen as a solution) and there was no Federal plan for freed slaves except - KEEP 'EM IN THE SOUTH!

April 9th was not really the end of the Civil War. More accurately it was only the beginning of Re-construction and the evidence says we're not done yet. The closing military act in our Civil War was not only the first surrender of an American Army, it is an event that is connected to us by parallel lines of American ideology and culture that compete for control of the country to this day.

A huge emptiness - a vacuum - was created by the collapse of slavery and the south.

In Iraq, we've tried to launch Re-construction DURING a civil war. And when we leave, we will leave a new vacuum in a region full of conflict and violence. So how will we leave? How long will re-construction take in Iraq? How will it be accomplished?

This is a huge topic that I think bears directly on the assumptions people have about this war and this election. I hope to explore this more as time allows in future. But I'm in no hurry. This topic will be alive for another 100 years.

But let me close with these thoughts about our country. The difficulty for America isn't just race, it is culture. Obama isn't just Black, he's a Yankee. But if he is able to win the popular vote across most of the states in November it could finally be said that our Civil War is over.

The issues of race, politics and culture will be forever changed.

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