Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

In the name of the father . . .

Happy Christmas.

Today's holiday edition of the WaPo leads with a cheerful piece on how we failed to come up with any kind of Phase IV (i.e., after the fighting) operational plan for Iraq. How could such a thing happen? you ask. Well,

Wilson's essay amounts to an indictment of the education and performance of senior U.S. officials involved in the war. "U.S. war planners, practitioners and the civilian leadership conceived of the war far too narrowly" and tended to think of operations after the invasion "as someone else's mission," he says. In fact, Wilson says, those later operations were critical because they were needed to win the war rather than just decapitate Saddam Hussein's government.

There's a difference, you see, between "taking out" Saddam Hussein--which, as long as there is a world-class military force at hand, could be accomplished by any moderately competent chief executive, or even a reasonably intelligent German Shepherd, probably--and conducting and winning a war that results in a stabilized country. And I don't mean "results in a stabilized country thirty years from now after all the oil dries up." No, I mean "results in a stabilized country before the country devolves into chaos, destroying the lives of the people you are ostensibly liberating." That George W. Bush, the man who offered to go "mano a mano" with his own father when accused of being a drunken lout, could not discern the difference, hardly suprises. What's a little more disheartening is that evidently most of our senior military staff were happy enough to go along with the plan of dethroning Hussein and switching immediately to chest-thumping, flightsuit-wearing, all-hail-the-conquering-hero mode. All that messy cleaning-up-after-yourselves stuff, the stuff that happens after the credits have rolled in the movies, just didn't interest enough of them. They wanted to blow up stuff, have everyone tell them how cool they were, and take their victory lap. This is our vaunted professional military leadership?

I don't remember if it was Atrios who said it first, or Oliver, or someone else, but "Hulk smash!" is not a foreign policy. Watching W. play out his petty bloodlust/Oedipal urges at the cost of 100,000 innocent lives is bad enough. Aren't there any grownups around who have noticed that this kid breaks every toy he plays with?


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