In 1968, the early days of what became a legendary career as a war correspondent, Peter Arnett filed a story for Associated Press containing a quote that came to evoke the nihilism at the heart of America’s engagement in Vietnam. “It became necessary,” an unnamed US Major told Arnett of a village called Bến Tre in the Mekong Delta, “to destroy the town to save it.”
Flip the year to 2013, the town to Washington DC, and the source to any one of hundreds of “senior Congressional aides”, and those ten chilling words neatly sum up the rationale behind the faction of the Republican Party determined to bring the US government to a standstill on October 1. Whether or not they succeed will determine the shape of US domestic politics for the foreseeable future.
Last week, the House passed a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government in the absence of a proper Budget deal. This in itself is not unusual – in fact, the US government has been lurching from one CR to the next over many years. This year is different because Republicans in the House of Representatives have included in the Bill a provision to defund the implementation of Obama’s signature healthcare reforms known as Obamacare.