The Latest from the Prospect
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
MARCH 15, 2022
Meyerson on TAP
Our Neo-Guernica Moment
And how we should respond
When, in 1937, bombers from Nazi Germany bombed the Spanish village of Guernica on behalf of Francisco Franco’s fascist forces bent on overthrowing that nation’s democratic government, the impact registered across much of the world. The aerial bombardment of civilian targets—and with the men away fighting, it was predominantly the women and children of Guernica whom the bombing killed—was a new and horrifying phenomenon. It soon became the subject of what is perhaps Picasso’s most famous painting, which, in gray, black, and white, is the color of the newsreels that brought this new horror to the world’s attention. During World War II, of course, such attacks on cities and their civilian populations became the norm on both sides, culminating in the two mushroom clouds that put an end to both the war and upward of 150,000 lives.

Since World War II, aerial bombardment has largely been confined to nations far from Europe and America. Vietnam’s “free-fire zones”—the Pentagon’s term for much of South Vietnam, where U.S. aircraft were given missions to bomb just about anything—saw the forced evacuation of much of that nation’s population, and became our very own killing fields, responsible for a significant share of the estimated two million Vietnamese deaths during that war. Television newscasts at the time did a pretty good job of showing the brutality of the land war we were waging against Vietnam’s civilian populace; the sight on Walter Cronkite’s nightly news of American troops burning down villages as women and children screamed and wept was no small factor in the growth of the anti-war movement. But there was no comparable coverage of the destruction that our B-52s and lesser bombers rained down from on high upon the Vietnamese.

But all that was in distant climes. No Western city, no city of white folks, has been subjected to aerial bombardment since the Nazis surrendered in 1945. Now, it’s back, and plainly visible on iPhones, laptops, and TV. And it’s a shock—a Guernica come again.

What, then, is the proper response? In thinking this through on the eve of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s address to Congress tomorrow, the only clear conclusion I’ve reached is that the one thing worse than a neo-Guernica is a neo-Hiroshima, which the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine could very well trigger. As even a modest acquaintance with human history should suggest, once war starts, rational calculation is often as much a casualty as truth is. And this time, both Russia’s and our powers of destruction exceed those of our Hiroshima bombing a millionfold.

So what then? Doug Feith was one of the neoconservative whiz kids in George W. Bush’s Pentagon who thought up the Iraq War, the most disastrous unforced error of this century until Putin gave him a run for his money (and for now, the toll in Iraqi lives greatly exceeds those of Ukrainians, though Putin may just be starting out). Nonetheless, Feith and John Hannah have an op-ed in, of all places, The Wall Street Journal today, calling for the establishment of a non-military airlift of medicine and food into Ukraine, to be carried out by aircraft of such neutral nations as Egypt and India, though it would disproportionately be the U.S. and Europe that provided those supplies. The flight plans of those flights would be given in advance to Russia.

This isn’t exactly a new idea; Harry Truman ordered an airlift of similar supplies to West Berlin after Stalin cut off all the land routes through which the city had been provisioned in 1948. But it’s a good idea, one that I hope would gain U.N. sponsorship—and should Russia veto it there, that doesn’t mean it can’t go ahead, unless Russia shoots it down literally once it’s begun.

Not a panacea, I readily admit, but in a world of Guernicas, panaceas are in short supply.

A Windfall Profits Tax Would Be an Inflation Rebate
A cash benefit to families as oil prices spike would be more important than how it’s financed. BY DAVID DAYEN
The Great Housing Inflation as a Long-Term Policy Failure
High prices of homes and rental apartments have very little to do with today’s general inflation, but reflect decades of perverse policies that hurt both renters and aspiring homeowners. BY ROBERT KUTTNER
Where the Government’s Environmental Lawyers Stand
The Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department could help protect our planet’s future. BY HANNAH STORY BROWN
Click to Share this Newsletter
The American Prospect, Inc.
1225 I Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
United States
Copyright (c) 2022 The American Prospect. All rights reserved.

To opt out of American Prospect membership messaging, click here.
To manage your newsletter preferences, click here.
To unsubscribe from all American Prospect emails, including newsletters, click here.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign