September 11, 2007

Senator Diaper Weighs in at the Petraeus Hearings

I thought General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker showed admirable restraint when Senator David Vitter asked them for a "bottom up" analysis of the pacification of Anbar Province in America's 51st and most important state, Iraq. Petraeus, in particular, seems like a classic alpha male, a man among men, a natural leader, and I suspect he fought hard to suppress images of Vitter, as the Senator asked questions in his lisping, simpering fashion, lying swaddled on a bed, kicking his chubby legs in the air while a team of ho's slapped the Johnson's Baby Powder off their hands. Say what you will about the General's political ambitions and his aim-to-please-Bush approach to analysis of Iraq, he showed a lot of class in keeping a straight face despite the contempt that must have roiled his otherwise highly disciplined thinking. The General's name will not be found on the D.C. Madame's list, and I am confident Petraeus changes his own shorts.

So America's strategic defense seems to be in good hands as long as we have real men like General Petraeus willing to serve the country, and his willingness, furthermore, to submit politely to softball questions from Senator Diaper, while causing me to snort coffee out my nose while I watched, assures me that the continuity of this great Republic is a mortal lock. I guess. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the Iraq War has nothing to do with anything, and that General Petraeus presides (by default, since Bush has deputized his Commander in Chief role to his newest favorite guy) over the stupidest, most wasteful, most suicidal adventure in American history. And Congress just cannot stop talking about it.

I suppose Marshall McLuhan had a bead on this a long time ago. We can't even see "Iraq" anymore in its proper context. The constant repetition of the words "Iraq" and "Iraq War," and the endless train of images on television, together with the barrage of news in the big dailies and on the Internet, have created an Entity (The Iraq War) that dwarfs our capacity to conceptualize it. The important subtext of the message in the media is simply that, that Iraq is something we must talk about, all the time, it must dominate all discussions, it must set all our priorities, that regardless of its actual importance to the reality of America, we must continue, for years and years, to live under its tyrannical reign of dominance.

And Iraq, really? It's a country somewhere in the Middle East, east of Syria, west of Iran, north of Saudi Arabia, sharing a border with Jordan. It has a lot of petroleum under the ground. The population is less than the state of California, and seems to be declining steadily. It is a country now in the process of accelerating dissolution. It has evolved, with American intervention, from a police state with basic functionality to an anarchic shooting gallery. If I were an Iraqi, I'm not sure which state of being I would prefer. It's entirely possible I would choose the present over the Saddam years, but I would not see either life course as a lucky accident of birth. But we could leave Iraq tomorrow and the only effects for us would be completely positive. We all know that. We would immediately begin saving money, lives, our sanity. We would lessen the international threat of terrorism. Even the Great American Booboisie know that, which is why 70% of us want it to end. Congress could end it. And it won't. Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, prefer the political calculations of maintaining power and winning the Iraq game, the game called "level of violence" in Iraq. That is what everyone now talks about, what Petraeus testifies about, what the analysts write about. Everything in the United States, the collapse of the housing market, the tanking economy, the falling bridges, the ruined city of New Orleans, the gargantuan national debt and trade deficits, the declining standard of living for about 90% of the populace -- all this is subordinate to whether in fact the monthly body count of Shia and Sunni in four provinces of Iraq is higher this month than during the same period in 2006.

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