The War, December 2010*
As far as who should be our supreme military leaders, what would we prefer? Lying bastards or dumb motherfuckers who don’t have the slightest knowledge of modern warfare? I suppose there is no reason why they can’t be both and, in fact, this seems highly likely given our current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Way back near the beginning, in those halcyon days of “Mission Accomplished;” back when conservatives were actually calling for opponents of the war to actually apologize for having the audacity to question the wisdom of invading Iraq; back when Fox News was declaring that every ice cream truck found in Iraq was a mobile chemical weapons laboratory; way back in 2003 if anyone were to make a comparison between our military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan and our utterly failed policy in Viet Nam they were practically lynched by conservatives and the war cheerleaders in the press (this was just about everyone in the media). It was a sad moment in America. It was bad then but it’s worse now—the wars are barely mentioned any more.
Back in 2003 I didn’t compare Iraq and Afghanistan with Viet Nam; I said that invading these two Muslim countries presented far greater difficulties. For one, I said that the cultural differences were much greater between the invaders and the occupants in these Middle East nations. This was back when your average slob didn’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite (unfortunately for America, the principal architects of the war didn’t know the difference, either). I remember arguing with a young, pro-war yuppie couple at a bar in Seattle and I told them that they would soon learn the difference between these two Muslims sects—or at least our soldiers would.
After only a few months the war pretty much went completely to shit by any measure any sane person could make. Instead of being greeted as liberators the Iraqis saw it as a good opportunity to loot, and then an even better opportunity to vent a little internecine bloodshed. During all of this our military and political leaders seemed illiterate—at least as far as being able to read the writing on the wall. How long did it take the average, mildly intelligent American to realize that we were never going to prevail in Iraq or Afghanistan? That instead of another VE Day we would be seeing a rerun of our ignominious flight from Saigon only 30 years earlier? One of the few remaining American journalists, James Fallows, wrote in The Atlantic back in 2005 that we were doomed to fail so why not cut our losses, get the fuck out of both of those shitholes (my words), and fail then instead of years later? Because fail we have.
Many years ago, back when horse’s ass William Benet was the drug czar, a journalist asked him to point to a single statistic that hinted that we were actually winning our “War on Drugs.” The journalist warned him not to throw out a bunch of meaningless bullshit about arrests made and drugs seized but to point to anything to show that this thing was, in fact, even winnable. Benet couldn’t supply an adequate response and trailed off, Rain Man-like, in just the sort of shit he was asked not to provide. This is what we have now with Petraeus.
Somewhere in the huge juggernaut that is out military-intelligence industrial wasteland and black hole of tax dollars there must be at least one forward thinker who has had the balls to say publically that there is no military solution for our problems with fundamentalist Islam. Yet after nine years in Afghanistan and almost eight in Iraq were are still being shown PowerPoint presentations on how we will “win” the war. I put win in quotations marks because no one has ever really said what winning will look like. So is Petraeus a fucking liar or a complete fucking retard? And which of these two is the most dangerous for the world considering the might and power of the American military? As I said earlier, he could be both.
I propose a simple solution. I say that we replace our military leadership with American public servants who have actually performed well at their assigned duties and let them run the military. Let’s have the Postmaster General give a go at our military problems. After all, the mail actually works in America. Our elite military academies seem to produce nothing but “yes” men/women and not much in the way of innovative thinking.[i]
*How many more anti-war essays will I have to write? How many times in human history has war been a terrible decision and completely avoidable? If you can remember back that far, Jimmy Carter didn’t commit the United States to a single act of war. I opposed his failed hostage rescue attempt and suspect that he was, himself, held hostage by his military advisors. It was an insane idea from its inception and was obviously an attempt by our bored military elite to have an Israeli Entebbe-type raid to put on their resumes.
[i] I attended a military school with some West Point graduates and more petty and childish individuals would be hard to find. They constantly mocked and made fun of another student in the class who wasn’t a West Point grad. My good friend and I—the only enlisted schlubs in the class—were exempt from their ridicule because we were kicking their asses academically. I’ve also studied with Ivy League students who I found to be whinny cunts probably incapable of handling any sort of difficulty most lower-middle kids like my friends and I dealt with on a daily basis. “My tests are so hard. I have a paper due.” Please. I’ll admit they were smarter than I but I’d like to see them graduate college while working some shit job 35 hours a week or make it through basic training in the military.