Sunday, August 12, 2007

Patient Americans

I'm sure you've read by now the crackpot from the Philadelphia Daily News who actually suggested that America needs another 9/11 to bring us together. And that's so obviously whack that I'm not even going to add anything to it. But one thing I wanted to point out was this insult of American "impatience" that I read about too often.

Here it is:
Most Americans today believe Iraq was a mistake. Why? Not because Americans are “anti-war.”

Americans have turned their backs because the war has dragged on too long and we don’t have the patience for a long slog. We’ve been in Iraq for four years, but to some it seems like a century…. Americans are impatient. We like fast food and fast war…. America likes wars shorter than the World Series.

Huh? Is there any country in history that really likes endless wars that waste a lot of money? Hell, England has a constitutional monarchy largely because they had too many kings who fought expensive wars that nobody wanted. And there was more than one occasion that the English got upset at kings for fighting against enemies who really were a direct threat to the survival of England. And times when their armies would just melt away against dire threats, having tired of being away from their farms too long; even though invading forces were approaching.

And Iraq isn't anything like that. Even war supporters are down to arguing that us leaving Iraq only serves as a "moral" victory for Al Qaeda, and there are plenty of arguments suggesting that this is complete baloney. The truth is that Iraq really wasn't all that important to most people. Sure, they might support a short-term engagement with few deaths and little costs. You know, the cakewalk they were promised. But the longer, deadlier, and costlier this gets, the less people will support it. It's not that Americans are impatient. It's that they're not fools.

And so it is throughout history. No country has supported endless, expensive wars without purpose. Even the Spartans would have thrown in the towel on this one. Conquering nations want their military victories to be wipe-outs. They don't want long slogs. They want for their guys to sweep in, conquer, and get the goods. Sure, they'll support a war of survival if they need to. But wars of choice better be quick, or the people aren't going to be pleased. The key to being successful militarily isn't just knowing how to win the battle. The key is knowing which ones not to fight. And this is a battle that people just don't want to fight anymore and shouldn't have been asked to support in the first place.

No Sacrifice

And it's obvious that the Bushies have always known this. Not only do they refuse to use the draft to create the army they need, they wouldn't even go so far as to ask the citizenry to make any sacrifices at all. Because they know that we just wouldn't have it. Not because we're impatient or selfish, but because we just wouldn't like this war as much if we were asked to do more about it. It was supposed to be like a spectator sport. When you go see the Yankees play, nobody asks you to make any special sacrifices. You pay for your ticket, you buy your damn hotdog, and you wait to be entertained. And that's exactly what the Bushies had in mind with this war.

And I'm sure that would all be different, were they to believe that people would really support this war. It wasn't that the Bushies were fools who didn't know that war took sacrifice. It was that they knew this war wasn't worth a sacrifice. So they wanted to use the smallest fighting force possible, for the cheapest amount the generals would let them get away with. I bet they would have gone with a platoon of Girl Scouts with pea-shooters and a credit card, had they been allowed to. Not because they were freaks who didn't know how wars were really fought and thought they could out-plan the "overly cautious" generals (though I suspect there was some of that); but because they knew people wouldn't support an expensive war with a huge army.

And they were right. And now we've sacrificed too much and people are getting damn pissed about it. I'm sure all the war supporters are privately pissing in their pants by now. Even Iron Balls Cheney himself is probably wearing the triple-ply Depends these days. This just isn't how it was supposed to go. Sure, they put on a brave face in public. But all that's just a show. They don't like how the war's going any better than we do. When Bush declared Mission Accomplished, he meant it. That's when the war was supposed to end. That's how long they wanted this to be. Just a few months, then they'd be bringing the boys back home.

By August 2007, we were supposed to be wrapping up our invasion on Iran or Syria, while they prepared for a clean sweep in the 2008 elections; not still trying to close the deal on Iraq. And if they could just make this war disappear and be done with it, they would. But they know this is their legacy, and they'll never hear the end of it if they can't wrap it up appropriately. They're not really waiting for victory. They're just trying to prevent a defeat from being hung around their necks.

And that's only the case because this war isn't that important to us. Were the Iraqi hordes swarming our beaches, I'd fight to the death to keep them out. I'm sure all of you would do the same. But fighting a war to save Bush's ass? I don't think so. Again, this isn't because Americans are different than other people and are impatient and weak. It's that we're just like everyone else and don't like our government doing dumb things. And the only reason people supported this war in the first place was because they were lied to about how dumb it really was.

1 comment:

Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said...

You hit it.
They really believed this would be a fun little war, with maybe a few hundred killed, nothing to get too upset over, and we'd be out in 3 or 4 months.
It was meant to give Bush a near unanimous win in 2004.
Now we have to keep this catastrophe going so Bush won't have to feel like a failure.
We have to stay there so he won't feel bad.