I would like to direct your attention to a post on my friend, and fellow 3quarker Josh Tyree’s, column at Old Town Review, American Notes for General Circulation. I think it is an important piece of writing. It attempts to stake out a position that I would, personally, be honored to associate myself with. Probably I am not intellectually careful or honest enough to do the position justice but Mr. Tyree is.
Tyree is trying to find a way to be anti-war without repeating the failures of the New Left during Vietnam.
It has become clear to me and becomes clearer with every passing moment that serious thinking about Vietnam is the most important thing in the world right now. The trick is that such thinking is more complicated than one might assume. The Hard Left had the moral clarity to be against the Vietnam War. But they got almost everything else about Vietnam wrong. I’m currently reading Mary McCarthy’s book Hanoi and Susan Sontag’s A Trip to Hanoi, which she has since renounced [correction: this is too strong, she stands behind the book but has since decided that third world communism failed in most of its promise. 12/2/04]. Parts of a very interesting exchange between Diana Trilling and McCarthy from the New York Review of Books in 1968 are published in McCarthy’s Hanoi. It is clear from these works that we’ve been through all this before. And it is clear that it is very difficult to tread the path that Tyree is talking about.
But I think he is absolutely right that we have to try.