Saturday, November 05, 2005

KRISTALLTAG in Argentina

Slap me on the head and call me stupid, but I wish someone would explain to me how the smashing of shop-windows and burning of a telephone booth on the streets of Mar Del Plata, Argentina, constitutes anything resembling a statement about the imagined evils and lies of George W. Bush, much less something resembling action taken to bring the evils to an end.

From my armchair it looked like a bunch of wild animals, too well-dressed to be residents of a local barrio, wreaking mindless destruction upon a fairly upscale urban shopping area-- an act that can have only one consequence, which is to drain the local economy (apparently in some distress already) even further by the cost of compensation and reconstruction for business owners who are not, as best I can tell, George W. Bush or any of his relatives or employees.

There was a time when many people (especially in the western press) were prepared to believe that this kind of madness was founded in genuine complaints about specific issues. But even the media are beginning to notice a difference between the peaceful assembly of anti-war demonstrators (who themselves are comically dissipated into a thousand wacko causes for which peace demo's are magnets now) and the violent rioting-for-fun of itinerant professional anti-globalist anarchists.

The impotence of the Argentinian police in the face of these savages was particularly sad. You would think we've seen enough of this now for local authorities to plan a way to capture the offenders-- like forming anti-riot barricades, of the sort seen in the news video from Mar Del Plata, but placing them at various streets on the perimeter of the action, and then marching them towards each other until the maximum number of rioters are boxed in-- at which point they are fire-hosed and then extracted one by one into waiting police vans. There isn't a single one of them who should be allowed to escape arrest for being accessories, if not perpetrators, of vandalism and assault on a grand scale.
There were any number of media people on the rioters' side of the barricade, who, in my view, were also accessories and probably stimulated the rioters into "performing" before the cameras. They should also be swept up in the arrests, with their fate dependent upon their willingness to contribute, through film and testimony, to the prosecution of the vandals.

People on the political left tend to enjoy indulging in setting up "moral equivalencies" between things that aren't even in the same universe (like Abu Ghraib and Auschwitz), so I'll borrow a page from them and set up at least a theoretical parallel between the automatic-reflex rage and impotent demonstra-stunt of the anti-globalist rent-a-mob, and the invoking of Rule 21 by the Senate Democratic leadership.

Both represent a wildly flailing tantrum by people seriously detached from reality. There are ways to make political change, and the battles can be waged aggressively, with even the occasional whack below the belt-- but it helps to actually be punching at your opponent, using gloves and the muscle you've built from disciiplined training. With their obsessive fantasy that Bush is evil incarnate, that the White House is packed with his satanic familiars, and that Karl Rove carries the One Ring that Rules Them All, the Democrats continue to punch at shadows and waste their energy on mindless verbal vandalism, too absorbed in indulging their emotions to ever marshal their troops or their arguments into marching toward a goal, a program, something, anything!

At what point does quadruple jeopardy kick in? How many times will they investigate the same information in hopes of reaching their desired conclusion about the use or misuse of intelligence, and finding that one scribbled note among the hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper which will send Karl Rove to the electric chair? This is NOT an exaggeration of the state of the Democratic partisan mind at this moment in history. Someone, please, circulate Einstein's definition of insanity -- "doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results" -- among the Senate Democrats and tell them to look in the mirror for further clarification.

And to what end is all this insanity? There is no undoing of what has transpired, there is NO responsible argument to be made for pulling out of Iraq, and out of the wider world which is now exploding in Jihadist wrath (the sole and undiminished rationale for our military interventions) in places where national policy has been consistently friendly to (and profited from) Arab/Islamic interests. And no matter how highly place your position in government, you cannot make it a crime to be surprised by history. It's actually kind of unfortunate that, even with a majority in both houses of congress, most state governments, and the voting public, Republicans cannot make it a crime for Democrats to demoralize and slander our American military in the field. If they could, most of the Senate leadership would be wearing orange jumpsuits.

I had one eye to the television the other night as I was washing some dishes, and tuned in to the last half-hour of the first episode of
"Band of Brothers"-- the brilliant 2001 mini-series that follows the path of Easy Company of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, from their training in England to the Normandy landing in 1944, through the Battle of the Bulge to the capture of Hitler's mountain retreat in 1945. At the end of episode one, a somewhat rag-tag collection of citizen soldiers, drawn from every walk of life, mostly draftees, some barely old enough to shave every day, are boosted into a rattling airplane and fly off to save the world.

Well, what could I do but burst into tears? Partly in the knowledge that thousands-- that's THOUSANDS-- would die in a single day. Partly in the knowledge that they achieved their goal-- they did save the world, each and every one playing his part, even if he didn't survive June 6. (I've walked the cemetery above Omaha Beach -- it is devastating to see how many crosses bear that date.)

But part of what brought me to tears was the knowledge that these men get to be heroes-- these men who were dropped in the wrong place, often to be slaughtered before they hit ground, or smashed up when their canvas-and-toothpicks gliders slid into the fortified bocage hedges that no one had bothered to study and plan for-- these men who signalled each other in the dark with a child's toy, the tin "cricket" clicker-- these men who were sent like a tsunami to wash over enemy territory into they-knew-not-what, for who-knew-how-long and at what cost--
these men get to be heroes. And well they should.

But our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen today -- the most educated, fit, highly trained and disciplined, most flexible, most humanitarian fighting force in human history-- they get to be compared to Nazis;
they get to be embodied in Lynndie England; they get to star (posthumously, and without consent) in a slick tv ad now being run by Operation Truth, dressed only in their anonymous, flag-draped coffins. There are roughly 150,000 troops in Iraq at any given time, with tens of thousands more who have been there and are rotated out. Membership in Operation Truth is about 600 veterans (not all of OIF). Who speaks for our soldiers?

Worst of all, our troops in Iraq get to be commanded by a Secretary of Defense, under a Commander-in-Chief, who both seem completely incapable, and not overly interested, in informing the American public, in any specific and measurable way, that our troops have given their all, and some their lives, for what history will show is a monumental victory on every level. The impotent railing in the mainstream network and print news (the "old Europe" of the information industry), in the streets, and in the Senate, will not win the war against the truth, no matter how much assistance they get from the Bush administration!

Now please go somewhere quiet and read Psalm 90/91 for all our military around the world.

BONUS: Time on your hands? Take the Abu Ghraib quiz.