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The Irrelevance of Twain


Wills’s essay ends with Mark Twain’s much-quoted—overquoted, actually; I’m surprised Wills did not seek to avoid the cliché—“War Prayer.” “O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells. . . . help us to turn them out roofless with their little children. . . .” If we were going to war only for material gain, or were motivated by bloodlust, the critique would be apt. But I’m praying for a quick American victory in order that there be less death and destruction. I’m praying for the liberation of Iraqis. I expect most Americans praying about the war are asking for similar things. Neither the actual conduct of this war, nor the spirit with which Americans have gone to it, justify Wills’s accusation.


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