Help me puzzle out Iraq. I’m just a country boy, and don’t understand Advanced Thought, or high strategy, or anything else. I admit it. Tell me about Iraq — quick, ’cause it seems to be blowing itself all to flinders, and it’s hard to study something the which there ain’t no more.
Now, as I understand it from the White House itself, it’s all because of three diehard Saddamites, two terrorists, and an outside agitator. Yes. The White House says ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent of Iraqis love us, and want us to bomb them and invade them, and starve them with embargos, and only a few soreheads don’t like it. And I believe the White House. You can only lie so long before you slip up and tell the truth. I figure they’re about due.
What I think is, those rascally diehards and the outside agitator must be fast. I mean, they get from city to city so quick they make it seem like the whole country wants us to go somewhere else, anywhere else, when really they all love us. If I worked for them Nike shoe people, I believe I’d get those terrorists to sign an advertising contract. Michael Jordan was swift, but compared to these guys he’s a federal program.
But I want to understand about strategy. Yesterday, it said on CNN, the White House bombed a mosque full of people and killed forty of them, to make them democratic. It was because the two terrorists or maybe the outside agitator was inside. Being as I am unwashed and don’t know much, I’d have said it wasn’t the shiniest thought in the idea basket. You got a country full of people who take religion real serious, and so you bomb a church in the middle of services.
But what do I know? Somebody called Mark Kimmitt, a brigadier general, said to CNN, "When you start using a religious location for military purposes, it loses its protected status.” If they hid in mosques again, we’d bomb them again, he said.
Now that he has explained it, it makes sense to me. If bombing one church doesn’t make them democratic, and love us, then bombing some more churches will. It wouldn’t fly in West Virginia, but that’s a different culture. Arabs like being bombed.
Some folks would say Kimmitt has to be dumber than a bucket of catfish. I’m less sanguine. I’ve known catfish. Kimmitt makes a catfish look like Fifth Century Athens. If I were part of the Iraqi Resistance, I couldn’t think of anything I’d like more than some damn fool blowing up mosques. It would save fortunes on recruiting expenses.
When I lived in Alabama, which never invaded Arab countries — we figured it was none of our business — people used to say as how the two greatest Confederate generals were George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside. I reckon the two most effective outside agitators must be Kimmitt and Paul Bremer.
Granted, I don’t know much about the White House. I never get calls from Mr. Bush, or his ventriloquists. Still, I figure he must know a lot about the Middle East. I guess he must speak several languages as well as a little English. General Sanchez in Baghdad and all the American officials speak good Arabic of course. They must. Bush especially must speak Arabic. Why, it’s practically a second language in Texas. It wouldn’t make sense to send people to Iraq who couldn’t talk a lick of the local lingo and barely knew where they were. Don’t you think?
One thing the White House has done real well is housetrain the press. Even I can see that. Reporters today are well behaved suckups, like those fuzzy little lapdogs you could glue to a stick and use for a duster. Notice how we never hear anything about old Saddam? (Note that I’m on first-name terms with him.) I guess it’s not our business, and the papers aren’t going to ask. Ever hear honest interviews with the troops in Iraq? Naw. That’s not our business either. I mean, they’re not our sons, brothers, husbands and neighbors or anything.
But you can bet that ninety-nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent of our soldiers love what they’re doing, and care deeply about democracy in Iraq, wherever it is.
I see hope, howsomever. I have read that we are getting advice from Israel on pacifying Moslems. You know: When we think one of the three diehards, two terrorists, or the outside agitator might own a house, we bulldoze it and punish the entire town. (It’s starting to look as if diehards own most of the houses in Iraq. I guess we’re fighting a war against real-estate magnates. Maybe if we raised mortgage rates….)
Skeptics and other traitors say that the Israelis are the most provably clueless people alive when it comes to pacifying Moslems. They’ve been at it for fifty years and some guy still blows up in a shopping mall every twenty seconds. This isn’t fair. Americans are impatient people. Things take time. Given that there are more Iraqis than Palestinians, I figure we’ll get the job done in about three hundred years. If we send more troops.
Now, some people tell me that I’m all soft and squishy on terrorism and need to learn about realpolitik. They may be right. As best I can see, realpolitik is a mood of self-congratulatory pugnacity accompanied by complete witlessness about how people work. It is usually associated with paranoia and the empathy of a table-leg. And it isn’t spelled well.
Anyhow, realpoliticky friends tell me that what we need to do is teach these people a sharp lesson. If somebody shoots at us from the town of Falafel, we should destroy the city. That’ll show’em, bowwow, grr, woof. There is a certain logic to this. Dead people are inherently peaceful. In classical antiquity armies put cities to the sword, adults, children, dogs, and gold fish. It sure enough pacified them.
Maybe that’s what we’re doing. As I write this, CNN says Mr. Bush is attacking Falafel, or maybe it was Wahabi, with an AC-130 Spectre gunship. Spectre makes a pretty good sword. In another life as a military columnist I flew in those things, then the H model though they’re probably U’s now. If memory serves, they now have a 105 howitzer, 40mm Bofors, and 25mm Gatling stuck out one side. Spray a city with those, and they’ll love freedom, I say. And us, too. I always love people that blow up my neighborhood. Don’t you?
What I think is, the Iraqis need to learn that democracy isn’t easy, and doesn’t come cheap.
Fred Reed [send him mail] is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well.