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Homage to a Government (Part 2)

4:05 PM, Nov 14, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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About six weeks ago, as Obama was dithering over Afghanistan, I reported that he worried, at a meeting with congressional leaders, about the cost of sending reinforcements. And I wrote that "this particularly pathetic excuse for ducking his responsibility for doing the right thing in Afghanistan put me in mind of the brilliant, and mordant, 1969 Philip Larkin poem, ‘Homage to A Government.'"

Well, Obama is still dithering, and the New York Times reports today that, according to senior administration officials, "http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/politics/15cost.html target=_blank>High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War." One definition of a classic is that it's always relevant, and Larkin's poem is a classic. So here it is again, in the hope that it might spur President Obama--who, we know, is something of a poetry lover--to act like the leader of a great nation.

Homage to a Government

Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.

It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.