Thursday, June 23, 2005

Where Seldom Is Heard A Discouraging Bobo

Shorter Bobo: War is heck, and to paraphrase a great orator/disassembler, the course should be stayed. Preferably without having to risk any Bobo Junior skin, he of cloven hoof and prognathous jaw.

On the good foot, it appears Bobo is swiping from yours truly, albeit ineptly:

One of the many problems with fighting an insurgency is that it is nearly impossible to know if we are winning or losing. It's like watching a football game with no goal lines and chaotic action all over the field.

My original version was better, and more accurate. Bobo's simile, like most of the intellectual hairballs he hacks up, means nothing -- "a football game with no goal lines and chaotic action all over the field" is not a football game. It may be soccer, or lacrosse, or whatever, but it is no longer a football game.

The real nut of the problem, as I presciently wrote several months back, is that we still think roughly in football terms, as far as appropriate cultural metaphors for war are concerned. But this is not football at all, nor was it ever. There will be no "hail Mary" plays, because there are no plays at all, there are no formations, there are no static points of reference, there is no delineation of field of play. Football is very tightly regimented; this is a free-for-all.

There are cities, and there are the people who live in the cities, and then there are the insurgents that weave throughout that cultural framework. Some use civilians as human shields or forced safe houses; some are the regular citizens' unemployed brothers or cousins who have given up any other hope of regaining a normal foothold on what life they had before Bush and Rumsfeld decided that they were smarter and knew more than the rest of the world.

That's why we're losing traction on this thing, because we keep looking to morons like Bobo to explain shit to us, when he has no clue.

It's just wrong to seek withdrawal now, when the outcome of the war is unknowable and when the consequences of defeat are so vast.

Sadly, he's right about this, but only telling half the story, as usual. For one, he refuses to draw or even mention any sort of hypothetical line where it would no longer be "just wrong to seek withdrawal". At this point, my serious guess would be that if Iraq continues to devolve towards civil war, we're outta there. The alternative would be re-instituting the military draft, and that would seal certain doom for the Republican Party in '06 and '08, and they know it.

So we'll probably do a serious drop-down in troop levels by next spring, secure our 14 new bases and the $1 bn embassy, and call it good, while the Iranian-backed Shia in the south move in and pay back the minority Sunni for several decades of grief under Saddam.

But hey, Bobo's read about George Washington and FDR and shit. So there's that.

Some of you will respond that this is easy for me to say, since I'm not over there. All I'd say is that we live in a democracy, where decisions are made by all. Besides, the vast majority of those serving in Iraq, and their families, said they voted to re-elect President Bush. They seem to want to finish the job.

Well, you can't knock people for having pride in their job and family and country. And even people who oppose the war -- contrary to the propaganda flatulating rhythmically from the sphincter of the Party of Bobo -- want to do right by the troops, to make sure that lives were not wasted, not given in vain.

But to paraphrase a smart guy, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake (or a lie, take your pick)? Even a Bobo oughta know when to say when.

I wish I had the answers; I wish I could unveil some big obvious master plan that somehow magically escaped the attention of the rest of the world. But I do know that what we're doing hasn't been working, isn't working, and I'll be damned if the people who were entrusted with having the master plan seem to have any clue what they're doing. They seem perplexed by anything more complicated than catapulting the propaganda, and that's something that Bobo, in all his faux evenhandedness, seems only too glad to studiously ignore.

Would we cheat all those purple fingers by cutting and running? Yes. Are we doing them some sort of huge favor cordoning them off in their towns with razor wire, to sit in 130ยบ desert heat with 8 hours of electricity a day and no jobs, for an indefinite period of time? Not really.

So the first thing to do is to shatter the rickety false dichotomy treehouse that Bobo and his pocket-protector ilk have erected in their intellectual backyard. There is more to choose from than "stay" or "go", just as there was always more to choose from than "invade right now". I don't know if Bobo is just willfully stupid, or just blinded by the swinging ball-sacks of those he teabags in print for a living, but it's a rather selective view of possible futures, colored by wishful hindsight of possible pasts.

1 comment:

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