by Karen Kwiatkowski
I continue to be amazed at the talent and perspicacity of our Great Leaders and their distinguished staffs. Certainly, the outgoing Bush people deserve no end of credit for the job they have done, decidifying, ramificationizing, and war-pacifying the world, all while investing all of their good faith and credit in the American cargo cult at home. I know most of the rest of us certainly wouldn't have been capable of so much, with so little.
The incoming body appears to be fleshed out, plump and gleaming, a holiday goose of a government for the next four years. But who's counting? Clearly, no one in government practices the fine art of mathematics, and indeed Washington, D.C. remains a happy place — compared to places everywhere else that are not Washington, D.C.
While the incoming executive preparing his feast, Obama has decided to keep Secretary of Defense Gates for a year or two. I can certainly see why! The man is a veritable fount of wisdom. Take these recent words, for example:
"The history of foreign military forces in Afghanistan, when they have been regarded by the Afghan people as there for their own interests, and as occupiers, has not been a happy one… And the Soviets couldn't win in Afghanistan with 120,000 troops. And they clearly didn't care about civilian casualties. So I just think we have to think about the longer term in this. I think we're going to be in this struggle for quite a long time, and I think we have to make sure we've got some of the basics right."
Who could argue with this observation? It is generally correct, although as CBS News reported last year, most Afghans disagree that the Russians were more heartless and cruel than the Americans.
Average Americans, like the rest of us, would think that when Secretary Gates makes such a sage observation, that he is really thinking of the long term, and that he really did learn from the long history of ancient and modern invasions and attempted occupations of Afghanistan. They would expect that he is preparing the incoming administration, one even more brilliant and gifted than the present one, for a complete and accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan, and from Pakistan's politics, too. I mean, average responsible people in this country understand that you don't keep throwing good money after bad, that you don't keep hitting your head against a wall, and don't keep betting the groceries that you're going to win the lottery against all odds, because somehow you are deserving of good things.
Because if there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that our government believes it is wise, prudent, and deserving of good things.
Reading Gates' words were almost nearly inspirational! Here was a policymaker revealing that he did indeed get it about Afghanistan.
But just as an inner chorus rose in a glorious Hallelujah, I remembered the title of the article, and its introduction explaining, "Gates said Wednesday he hoped to deploy an additional two combat brigades in Afghanistan by the summer as part of an effort to combat growing violence and chaos in the country. …The reinforcements will increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan to about 58,000 from the current level of 34,000."
Oops. My bad.
It appears that continuity in military operations abroad — and acceleration of them at home — is a key mission, part and parcel to Americana, as least as Washington sees it. And anyway, why bring the troops home and demobilize them when there are no jobs? I'm sure that Obama, Gates, Bush and Cheney all have our best interests at heart.
The article on troop increases in Afghanistan closes on a revealing note. Gates has decided that if the choice is between going to a principals meeting on a less important military topic or attending a planning meeting with Obama and his team, he chooses the latter. After all, the King is dead. Long live the King!
For the rest of us — whether our dismay and disgust is aimed at the transmutation of rule of law in the law of the rulers, the obscenity of Federal Reserve secrecy, the unfunded fiat bailouts of the unwise, unworthy and unproductive, or the hypocrisy of our fascist republic — the nature of the real change at hand should be crystallizing in our respective minds.
Lenin expected a withering away of the state — and clearly, in that expectation he was a genius on par with our Great Leaders today. Instead, what withers is the passive mass of gentle sheep that we recognize as the American populace.
It is our collective tendency to forgive our government its excesses, its incredible stupidity and vice, and to look to it for security and leadership that is withering. For every American who thanks the military for "giving us freedom" or forgives it for destroying their family in a training mission or a selected occupation, there are ten more who are becoming enraged and beginning to stand separate from the flock.
Ron Paul's presidential campaign, this website and many others have produced a subversive yet simultaneously mainstream and popular articulation of real liberty, and its enemy, the state. A new 21st-century body of work, pitting grand government against grand lives, is being written now, by all of us, in our lives, our conversations, our study and our missives.
This is the true American gift, often unheard in this loud season of gilt-wrapped government, and unseen in the blinding communal panic of a world of governments. This is real genius.
December 12, 2008
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.
Copyright © 2008 Karen Kwiatkowski