INGRATITUDE….Most of the books publishers send me turn out to be fairly routine political tracts, but every once in a while I get a pleasant surprise. Last week it was The Best of I.F. Stone, a collection of Stone’s essays from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. They are just plain fun to read.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1966 essay written after a visit to Saigon. Stone is talking about the attitude he found among the cold warriors responsible for prosecuting the Vietnam War:

They place a very high value on the purity of their intentions and a very low estimate on the motivations of the Vietnamese.

….Our capacity for overlooking the obvious is enormous. Even one of the best and most independent reporters here was shocked by the anti-Americanism of recent demonstrations in Saigon and in Hu? and Danang. He shares the naive view that we are there to help the Vietnamese and regards the demonstrations as sheer ingratitude. The simple fact that occupying armies, whether allied or enemy, always become unpopular hardly ever figures in official calculation.

Compare this to the attitude expressed by President Bush in a recent private meeting at the Pentagon:

More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. ?I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,? said another person who attended.

The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same.