“Mr. President, I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.” These famous words of support were, of course, offered by Gen. Buck Turgidson, played by George C. Scott, in the classic black comedy, Dr. Strangelove, after a rogue U.S. Air Force general subverted America’s “fail-safe” system and sent a wing of nuclear-armed bombers to annihilate the Russians.
This seemed an appropriate intro to General McChrystal’s meeting today with President Obama, where the general’s attempt to explain numerous slip-ups to his Commander-In-Chief predictably resulted in dismissal. Scott’s line is also the lead-in to my reaction to a piece sent to me by Bob Kincaid, host of our favorite nightly progressive radio show on the HORN, describing our pay-offs to Afghan travel agents–otherwise known as insurgents and warlords–to safeguard passage for our military convoys. In a campaign fraught with mistakes and distorted vision, buying into protection rackets which invariably end up funding our enemy seems like another in a series of tragic slip-ups.
We might as well be fighting space aliens on one of the moons of Saturn. Imagine the weekly briefing sometime in 2410: “Well General, how’s the mission on Titan coming along? What’s your assessment after 14 years of bloody warfare?”
“Well, we’re still taking it to them, although it would be easier if there was anything like a legitimate government or legal system up here. But we’re pressing on, and securing as much crazillium-7 as we can.”
“Sir, we understand United Crazillium is poised to make a fortune with the exclusive rights to sell this amusing and revolutionary energy source. Is that still our goal?”
“God willing. Their contractors have been working with us from the outset. Lord knows, they’ve written enough checks to right people.”
Four hundred years from now, those choosing to review the failed campaign on Titan will no doubt reflect on the history we ignored centuries before–and were thus doomed to repeat – of the conflict on a similarly hostile and formidable world known as Afghanistan.
That's about it. We never learn.