If Rip Van Winkle

If Rip Van Winkle had fallen asleep under a cedar tree in Lebanon in 1982 and awoke today, you could hardly blame him for thinking he had snoozed for only a few minutes.

Israel is still in Lebanon. Iran is America’s great nemesis. Russia-U.S. relations remain tense. An imperial power (Britain/U.S.) is conducting a military campaign in a farflung locale (Falkland Islands/Iraq) in what is maybe its last gasp of imperialism. There is a gathering threat in the East (Japanese economy/North Korea). The news even includes mention of the death of a popular princess (Grace Kelly/Diana) in a car accident.

The only things missing are Survivor, Toto, and Air Supply.

When critics of the Iraq War suggested it would set back progress in the Middle East for a generation, I didn’t take it to mean we would revert to a generation ago.