Why would We keep this up? The whole thing begins to look like what Gladstone called the British occupation of Cyprus in 1878: “this insane covenant” (which might also describe Our welding Ourselves to the State of Israel, but that’s for another Post).
Some thoughts come to mind, as to why Obama might have to keep this up.
One, the American position in the world: We have made a hash of Iraq. And on top of that, We will be staying there because the plan now is to simply rename the ‘combat’ troops ‘training and administrative units’. This is a perfect example of how the verrry bad and crazy-making habits of postmodern academic ‘discourse’ can ‘creep’ into areas beyond the ivy walls into the ‘real world’ where very serious consequences must be dealt with effectively. The old Political Correctness approach was grounded in the idea that ‘nothing is really ‘real’; it’s all a matter of how you ‘think’ or ‘feel’ about it'; this bit of pop psychology bumper-sticker stuff may work for the occasional person having a bad day, but it’s no basis for a system of national policy, foreign and domestic.
And you have to ask yourself from a military point of view: if you re-title ‘Brigade Combat Teams’ as ‘training and administrative teams’ then you are going to do serious damage to your military capability. Either you actually are going to force those units to get used to pencils and PowerPoint presentations, or you are going to ‘keep a secret’ from the American people: namely, that the troops are actually combat troops and they’re still there doing what they do best. Of course, as the Beltway is starting to find out, you can hide something from the American people through ‘secrecy’ or ‘spin’, especially with the help of an indentured media, but you can’t hide it from the rest of the world’s governments, militaries, and peoples … and you can’t hide it from the troops themselves.
But I digress.
If Obama pulls out now, the rest of the world – it may be imagined – is going to see the US as what Mao always said it was, a “paper tiger”. But then, this was part of the ‘reasoning’ that led LBJ and Us into Vietnam bigtime. Oh my.
And if the rest of the world starts to see that We no longer have any clothes on, then We are going to have a lot more trouble. Militarily, but also in terms of everything else. The days of the 1950s and 1960s, when an American could go to Japan or any of the defeated Axis countries of Western Europe and be treated with a certain awe because of the ‘superiority of American culture’ … those days are gone, baby, gone. Those countries have been getting stronger while We have been declining: relatively, in the sense that those other countries are now ‘catching up’. But also absolutely, in the sense that a) We have no more industrial chops and We have no more financial chops, and b) the ‘deconstruction’ that has been the main thrust of ideological feminism and its cohorts has served to announce to the world that American culture is (fill in the blank) but in any case baaaad and eeeeevilll.
So if We pull out of Southwest Asia now, then We look weak and that will invite more ‘assaults’, on Our pride if not also on Our ‘national interests’ – however those might be defined.
But that brings Us to the second consideration: We need the chance to stay in the Game and recoup Our losses. I had previously Posted that the whole Bush scheme of invasions (there were to be five countries earmarked, if memory serves, with Iraq being the first) was to get Us a ‘land-based aircraft carrier’ right smack in the middle of, even on top of, the last and largest oilfields on the planet, which happen to be situated in the heart of the Eurasian landmass. Iraq, you might say, would be another ‘Israel’, Our ‘faithful ally’ in the middle of a huge and important piece of real estate. Hell, instead of Israel pulling Us around by the shorthairs, We would ‘own’ Iraq for all practical purposes. What was not to like?
And We needed the oil, but also the cash value that the oil would represent – it was one of America’s ‘last’ and ‘final’ assets (so much having been ‘offshored and outsourced’ since Clinton’s first Administration). And it would give Us that ‘seat’ at the ‘Table of the Great Game’. The world’s new economic honchos weren’t going to leave Us behind, by jingo! Our troops would be all over the center of the board.
Without that ‘asset’, folks might get to thinking that the US had spent itself flat and was – Mao again – that ‘paper tiger’.
And if you think it’s embarrassing being an emperor seen to have no clothes on, imagine what it’s like to be that emperor after you’ve gone and made a whole bunch of enemies for yourself while everybody thought you were dressed in Cloth of Gold. They’d soon graduate or escalate from laughing at you to tossing stuff at you – and maybe worse.
And thirdly, the military adventuring is one of the last things American still ‘has’. The Pentagon is the funnel for huge amounts of tax dollars to corporations, the corporations of that military-industrial complex that is one of the last functioning elements of the ‘economy’ (as it were). And the military provides employment opportunities for bunches of young folks, as well as being ideological feminism’s showpiece ‘victory’ for its extraordinary insistence that ‘women’ are ‘just the same as men’ when it comes to combat and military stuff. And for decades now the pols on both sides of the Beltway Party divide have been holding things together by pandering to the ideological feminists while also collecting cash from the military-industrial corporate PACs. Not many ‘Honorables’ in the Beltway are going to have the chops to let go of all that.
But also, fourthly, America is not a Western movie: Obama can’t just ride into town and on the strength of his own personal power and his skill with a gun make all the town honchos do what he wants them to do, even if he wanted to. JFK’s untimely end can’t be far from his thoughts. And since – with some genuine shrewdness – he’s surrounded himself with the ‘old boy’ (no genderism intended) network, then if he were suddenly ‘no longer around’ the business-as-usual Beltway could move right in and continue doing all the stuff that has gotten Us into this present catastrophic train-wreck of a mess in the first place. It will be as if the command staff of the Titanic decided that the best thing to do would be to turn around and ram that iceberg a few more times; and don’t ask why - because trying to think like that would be ‘abstract’ and ‘elitist’ and sooo ‘male’, and it would lack ‘optimism’. Oy. Oy gevalt.
Obama is a man on a hugely delicate and downright dangerous tight-rope now. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – that maybe he’s taking just the right half-step in a new direction even if he has to take a couple of full-steps in the old (and wrong) direction.
But even if that’s what he’s up to, and even if he might have the chops to pull it off given enough time, there may not be that much time left.
We are cursed with living in interesting times indeed. But it has to be admitted, and We have to admit it: We Ourselves have made the times so ‘interesting’.
So, fellow (and sister) Citizens, We are going to have to buckle down to giving some serious thought and deliberation as to what We might do to help him.
America is no longer in the position of being soooo big that no matter how the Beltway screws up, We the little folks can just get on with Our individual lives and day-to-day problems, adventures, and amusements. We, even more than Churchill’s Britons of that storied bygone era, are all in this together.
We’d better have the chops of a second ‘Greatest Generation’ (maybe ‘third’ – that Civil War generation put up with a hell of a lot).