Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sac à Merde

I don't watch much opinion laden television these days, but, one aspect of my self-improvement meander is to get to bed at a decent time, and so I found myself having been awake for two hours at 6:00 am and resorting to some semblance of entertainment that doesn't involve the eye strain of another sudoku marathon. Hence the Imus show, and the unpleasantness of an interview with John McCain, heir apparent to the Imperial Throne. That's he, on his high horse. When he gets a little crazy, it's pretty hard to tell him from Bush the Lesser, isn't it?

His screed? Damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead. Oh, he knows there is chaos in Iraq. And he's aware that Afghanistan is worse than when we found it. He knows better than you or I, he has better sources. Yet he shills the absurdity that 20% more troops might turn chaos into security―might tip the scale toward victory, as if the balance of human survival might swing on such a fractional effort.

You might be tempted to attribute McCain's escalatory attitude to a political manouvre―a ploy for consolidation of all those who would rather sacrifice a few thousand more lives than to accept that we might have made an error in Iraq, and there is no doubt that McCain is ready to parade his lightning steed right down the center of Main Street to invigorate those bastards. But to attribute such a position to mere pragmatism, despicable as such a possibility may be, falls dangerously short.

McCain's apparent blindness isn't Presidential fever. His infection is militarism. He started this morning's interview with a discussion of his favorite Herman Wouk and Hemingway novels. This is how it is with warriors, who tire quickly of peaceful scenarios. Even their recreation must be steeped in the gloriousness of soldiering. Though he dusted off the old saw, "We must learn from our history, or we are doomed...," he clearly is just reveling in the heroic, rather than absorbing the big picture.

The reality is that Napoleon met his Waterloo, Hitler his Stalingrad, Hannibal his Metaurus, and Harold K Johnson his Tet offensive. Invasions are expensive, messy and, if of any ambitious scope, generally (so to speak) unsustainable. How can McCain miss that point?

Yet he drones on about the preposterous goal of a Vichy Iraq, as if he'd never seen Casablanca. Is he dissembling? Yes. But the truly frightening aspect of all this is that he believes himself, in spite of the evidence. It's irrational. Delusional. He is a dog of war.

And this is what passes for sensibility in such a mindset:

When I was a young man, and all glory was self-glory, I responded aggressively and often irresponsibly to anyone who questioned my honor. I still remember how zealously a boy would attend the needs of his self-respect. But as I grew older, and the challenges to my self-respect became more varied and difficult, I was surprised to discover that while my sense of honor had matured, its defense mattered even more to me than it did when I believed that honor was such a frail thing that any empty challenge could threaten it.

The courage of the living and the dead taught me that. They taught me to dread dishonor above all other injuries. They taught me to be afraid of shame.

The Honor. After all the strategic analysis, punditry and positioning is through, the argument of the aggressor always comes down to this stalwart. The point is not the debilitating effect on a society that endures or wages war. It's not that the loss of young men and women is a tragedy. No, the point is that this loss might become a shame.

The Honor and the Glory. I don't intend to diminish the heroism of the defender. This is important illumination of those selfless deeds.

But let's not be unwary of those who might be staring into that sun a bit too intently.


Post a Comment

<< Home