Thanks to the advent of the Discovery Channel we have the godlike ability to sit on our couches and watch in amusement as wildebeests routinely get themselves killed by the ever-present crocodiles that are waiting for them just below the surface of the Grumeti River in Africa. Like the hapless wildebeest that keeps forgetting about the lurking danger in the water, there is a highly vocal type of United States citizen that believes everyone in the world is basically good at heart.
I blame Hollywood. When the good guy in an action movie (frequently played by Nicolas Cage) goes rogue, it’s with good reason. We, the trusting, popcorn-munching movie audience, are shown as quickly as possible that our hero is a victim. A terrible injustice has been committed unto him. He’s the victim of a broken heart. He’s trying to save his kid, or get back to his wife, save his family, or avenge a loved one’s death Shakespeare style. The common denominator of all these reasons is that no matter how many rounds he fires, people he kills, how much blood he sheds, cars he crashes, buildings he ignites, property he destroys or innocent lives he puts in harm’s way, our hero’s actions are justifiable. Who cares if a good guy demolishes greater metropolitan San Francisco when he has to get this teddy bear to his neglected daughter? When a guy on our side — good, American, God-fearing, family man, etc. — kills, it is for a socially and morally acceptable reason.
When American citizens extrapolate this “it’s all good” theory into the geopolitical realm, they tend to rationalize the violence of others by adhering to the doctrines of battered wife (or desperate Nick Cage) syndrome. For example, in the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, shrill voices on the periphery of normal America began searching for the “root causes” of the mass murder. Their prejudicial conclusion was that U.S. foreign policy was to blame.
Some of the loudest of these voices came from former friends of our current commander in chief. “America’s chickens have come home to roost!” shouted Jeremiah Wright, in his first post-attack sermon. The pastor’s devoted followers rejoiced with boisterous cries of “Amen!”
It’s comforting to know that President Obama did not really believe any of that nonsense. Perhaps he once entertained such ignorance. However, after examining all of the evidence, it is obvious that our president adopted the same belief that our U.S. Navy SEALs have held throughout all of our wars: When confronted by the enemy, eliminate him and move onto the next mission.
What is the next mission? There seems to be plenty of potential missions left in the chaotic state of the Middle East. Is the movie over? After finishing off the bad guy, can our heroes pack up their gear and head for home?
History indicates that the conflict is far from arriving at the grand finale. Back in the old days when the United States didn’t even have a Navy, let alone Navy SEALs, Barbary Coast pirates operating off the coast of modern-day Libya attacked and enslaved American crews. Our young Congress reacted by authorizing the funds to start a Navy. A few years later they loaded the ships with troops called “Leathernecks.” They landed at a place called Tripoli. There is a song about this that you can find buried somewhere in the National Archives. It starts out, “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli.”
It is becoming increasingly clear that “Catch-22” is probably the most brilliant war book ever written. Osama bin Laden, the evil mastermind of al Qaeda, was discovered and killed living next to the Pakistani equivalent of our military academy at West Point. Pakistan receives billions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States of America, and in return the Pakistanis allow supplies to flow through their country to our troops in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, each spring, thousands of young Taliban fighters cross the Pakistani border to join in the fighting. Does this not sound like we have been funding both sides of a war that seems to have no exit strategy?
Now that the curtain of deceit has been lifted, perhaps it is time to save a few billion dollars each year by only funding one side of the war. Any rational small-business owner can see the potential savings. Unfortunately, small-business owners do not run wars. Big business is in charge and the bureaucratic blind spots are glaring, to say the least. Can we get a mulligan on the New World Order?
Christine Whitmarsh is the owner of local writing firm Christine, Ink. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.