Sometimes, just when you least expect it, symbolism steps right up and coldcocks you. So how about this headline for – in the spirit of our last president – ushering America’s withdrawal from Iraq right over the nearest symbolic cliff: “U.S. empties biggest Iraq base, takes Saddam’s toilet.” They’re talking about Victory Base, formerly – again in the spirit of thoroughly malevolent symbolism – Camp Victory, the enormous American military base that sits at the edge of Baghdad International Airport and that we were never going to leave.
For as long as I could remember, the Brandenburg Gate had been the preeminent symbol of the age and Berlin the epicenter of contemporary history. Yet by the time I made it to the once and future German capital, history was already moving on.