Two Puffs and a Dollop of Indecision

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Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

~ Ecclesiastes 1:17

In one of the more bonehead moves that an increasingly bonehead-looking Obama administration has danced to, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dispatched to America’s rumored ally Pakistan, even though tasked by Obama to “counter rising anti-American sentiment and chip away at mistrust of US aims in the region," decided instead to spend some time letting a roomful of Pakistani newspaper editors know that "it(‘s) hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they (Al-Qaeda, of course) are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to."

Then to make her point a bit more pointy for the current rulers, she went and called on Nawaz Sharif, a current Leader of the Opposition who wants to be Pakistan’s top dog. Between all that and the endless US Predator drone strikes, it’s a complete mystery as to why the Pakistani people aren’t waving American flags, building statues to Bushama, and naming their sons after Hillary. Personally, methinks some people are ingrates; they don’t deserve to be America’s burden.

Repeated blunders of this kind were inevitable, as Hillary’s appointment was granted not due to her temperament, and certainly not due to her intelligence and forethought, but as a purely political appointment, a sordid consolation prize for agreeing to play nice and help make Obama’s ascension into the White House a love-fest.

Yet, she does harbor the one qualification that makes her the perfect chief diplomat for the world’s greatest empire — she’s a bully, a saber-rattling loudmouth stuffed to bursting with donations from America’s weapon makers, so have no doubt war could break out at any moment she’s wandering about. And now she’s delivered, publicly, an imperial tongue lashing to a supposed ally. One with nuclear weapons.

But that’s almost always the endgame for history’s bullies, they eventually pick a fight with the wrong guy, and Hillary’s mouth and lack of brain power has put Obama in a diplomatic bind and our two nations that much closer to war.

Actually, considering all the drone attacks we conduct within their borders, we are at war, but also kind of allies in that confused, Vietnam-like way America has become so fond of.

Meanwhile, the man who was ordered to appoint her to that post is puzzling over yet another far-flung corner of the empire — a mountainous sand spit called Afghanistan, specifically. After eight years, a few score plans, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives thrown into that bottomless pit (all to no avail) it’s plain enough for even a Harvard grad to see; we need a gooderer plan.

So after huddling with everyone worth huddling with for the past many months, discussing what and how and when (with helpful visual aids on PowerPoint to move things along) an underling has been dispatched to a helpful reporter, to whisper that the decider has almost decided.

It’s rumored to be a draw of a plan, as he’s splitting the baby in half and taking two different plans from two different men, one of them clueless as only an expert can be and the other a complete amateur on the subject at hand. Obama will reportedly meld the plan of his Afghan commander, General McCrystal, who says give me more soldiers and I will do thy bidding and Vice President Joseph Biden, who says alright but keep our troops in the population centers, as maybe if we do then the Afghan rebels will be content with the countryside.

So we’re going to stuff Afghan cities with soldiers, and only send them out into the great barrens if needed to rescue the small bands of commandos that we’ll send forth from our bases, just to keep things humming.

The fact that these two puffs are the best Obama can turn to for advice is a stark reminder of how dry America’s well has run. McCrystal is a counterinsurgency expert who is surprised when guerilla forces won’t stand in one place and slug it out with regular troops, and Joseph Biden’s only military experience was getting repeated draft deferments during his chance to fight the good fight in Vietnam. Their two plans, mixed together then combined by Obama with a healthy dollop of indecision, is not a confidence builder.

Meanwhile, back on the home front in our war of terror, my son fell down in the school playground and hit his head. I know this because I received An Alert from the School Health Office, with a helpful "head injury sheet" attached.

Most head injuries do not cause serious problems. However, problems related to a head injury may not always occur right away, so sayeth the school health office. Oh, and keep an eye out for these symptoms, one of which was "change in usual behavior or confusion." That describes every four-year old boy on the planet.

All this official looking paperwork, doubtless designed with the noble intention of soothing my worry, instead made me wonder what was wrong with a simple phone call. He fell. He’s fine. The 2009 version of America has developed taking things too far into an art form.

Maybe one day in a far distant future, after the entire ruckus has died down and the bleeding’s stopped, a noted historian will try to explain all of this. It will take a lifetime of intellectual toil spent but then, stuffed to his gills with information, he will stand before all the other upright, air-breathing fish, each one of them waiting breathlessly for the great explanation to finally be revealed, the answer to one of time’s more puzzling mysteries — what in God’s name got into America at the dawn of the second millennium?

And doubtless, after his decades of scholarly effort, with a shrug of his shoulders he’ll admit that he, like everyone else, is stumped.

Maybe they had a head injury, he might say.

C.J. Maloney [send him mail] lives and works in New York City. He blogs for Liberty & Power on the History News Network website. His first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

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