Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Blame Game
I get that it probably isn't the easiest thing in the world to run a war. I know a lot more goes into it than we really give our elected officials credit for.

First there's the identification of a sufficiently menacing yet eminently beatable enemy. It seems simple enough for the most powerful military nation in the history of the world, but finding the right crackpot dictator in the right part of the world (can't have too many twitchy neighbors who might not take kindly to puppet governments next door) whom we can topple fairly quickly and whom we are certain--certain--has no Weapons of Mass Destruction to employ either in their own defense against our invading troops or (worse) in any kind of long-range retaliatory strike against American civilian populations. Collateral damage is something that happens to other countries in the wars we start. Imagine the PR fallout from having to deal with actual fallout. This is why we don't invade Canada. Sure, we could beat them down, but they could conceivably reach us with... something. Well, that and the Canadian Prime Minister simply doesn't have the right kind of mustache to be a credible international villain.

After the enemy is identified, then you have to beat them. And not just regular ole our-army-totally-kicked-your-army's-ass kind of stuff, which is also necessary, don't get me wrong; the other country must be completely and totally humiliated in a series of eminently photographable engagements covered by reporters right there on the front lines whose very survival depends on the successful outcome on behalf of those with whom they travel. You see, if a reporter is "embedded" and thus relies on the military for protection, transportation, food, shelter, camaraderie, military-grade contraception for the victory after-party, they tend to build in an ever-so-slight slant in favor of their lords and masters in their coverage. Sure, they'll cover it if things go badly, but odds are they won't be covering it for long. Yes, it's possible to win a Pulitzer posthumously, but what's the point if you can't go back to DC and enjoy it over daquiries with Bob Woodward and Wonkette at the National Press Club mixer?

Thirdly, I think of the logistical and financial outlay required to coordinate the carrier-deck-landing "Mission Accomplished" phase and I'm just exhausted already. The banner printing costs alone after we've already paid for the "active phase" of the war... When you think about it, that's a $100 billion banner. AND you have to find someone willing to go way up there to hang it. Yeah, it looked cool, but how many Seaman-Third-Classes did we lose in the attempt(s) to hang it? The responsibility behind ordering such a thing is really beyond my capability to comprehend.

What we're finding out now is that the invasion phase can go just fine, with a minimal loss of life compared to other total-conquest-and-seizure-of-nations operations historically and then all the rest of it goes to shit. This is bad news if you're operating a war entirely for the benefit of 24-hour cable news. They're not embedded anymore, so you know they're going to go with the pictures of people with their faces blown off. I get that "people in Baghdad go shopping" is also a story worth telling, but what's the picture you put with it? Where's the sizzle? With the bomb pictures, you get lots of sizzle. Lots of actual sizzle after the explosion but before the burnt shrapnel cools all the way down. Good stuff TV wise.

Taking this all under consideration, I understand and I tolerate the occasional bullshit "good news" story about how we killed the al Qaeda and/or Taliban "Number Three Man" again. We do it every 3-6 months or so, depending on what the presidential approval rating is at.

I get the impulse, like I said, but I'm sorry, the suspension of disbelief is starting to wear thin. I can tell the people in the Bullshit PR Plot Development department of the Pentagon (it's in "C" Ring, right between the Satellite Lasers department and the enormous Sexual Harrassment Response arm of the Judge Advocate General's Corps) are starting to run out of ideas. Like the James Bond people when they got to that last Pierce Brosnan one where he was windsurfing on a tidal wave and Halle Berry was "dangerous". Please.

The latest thing we're supposed to celebrate is that we've apparently killed yet another Taliban "Number Three Guy". This one's name? Mullah Dadullah.

It's like they're not even trying.

Mullah Dadullah. Somebody over there really needs a vacation. That isn't a person's name, that's what Bill Murray's character said the Dalai Lama said to him in lieu of a tip in Caddyshack. It's embarrassing for me, as an American because I can totally tell that "banana-fana" goes in between "Mullah" and "Dadullah". If I can see your process of creation so easily, your writing is lazy, Department of Defense.

What's worse? Here's the picture they released of him:

We fired Rumsfeld finally and this is the effort we get in his place.

At least Rummy I was scared of. And in the final analysis, isn't that a SecDef's main job? Not this "Mullah Dadullah" bullshit. Please. Just stop.

Go out there and get us riled about imminent nuclear annihilation from Iran or North Korea. Or mix it up and convince us someone new is about to kill us all, like Poland or Swaziland. I'm sure someone in Swaziland has to have the right kind of mustache.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.5




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