Sunday, March 04, 2012

Nutjob Rules

OK, so enough with the garment-rending. Time to get back to the wider world.

Oh - first, a question for the readership; this months' battle is either going to be the Reoccupation of the Rhineland (1936) or the Battle of Adowa (1896). I'm leaning towards the latter just because it's more interesting and less known. But in pure "decisiveness" terms the Rhineland was the more critical event. Any strong feelings one way or the other?And this morning I was scanning through the news and one thought kept sticking in my head; why does it seem that my country seems to be stuck on the notion that the world "should be" something other than it is?

One example is this year's ridiculous presidential campaign, which - in the middle of some truly spectacular economic and geopolitical fuckups - seems to be mainly about what women do or don't do with their genitals.


One of the other examples is summed up in my friends jim and Lisa's post about the recent "Koran burning" controversy. Their money graf is:
"The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is not about liberal democratic values and has nothing to do with the welfare of the Afghan people. The entire philosophy of Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24 was based upon a simulacrum of truth, and the burning (as with previously reported incidents of Koran desecration) proves the point to the citizens of Afghanistan."
Which is absolutely true.

But IMO the greater point is; we knew that the central Asian plateau was chock full o' religious nuts when we went in there. We had a ringside seat for Charlie Wilson's War, watching the Soviets try to turn the Afghan Allah-pesterers into good little Young Pioneers and failing bloodily.

Why the hell - why the HELL - would we think otherwise?Here's my opinion; it's because we as a people, we as a polity, are eaten up from head to toe with magical thinking. We believe wholeheartedly that if we just WANT it bad enough that the world will be what we want it to be. That we have the Awesome Yankee Doodle Dandy Power that will make Afghans become suburban Maryland Presbyterians, make piles of corporate money do something other than turn our electoral process into a pimp-and-ho show, make individuals and corporations act prudently, sensibly, and other words, make the world into a rational and sensible place rather than the monstrous concatenation of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision we should know by now that it is.

And, specifically, in Afghanistan we the U.S. chose to go into the religious nuthouse and play with the religious nuts. Inside Chock Full o' Nuts you either play by the Nutjob Rules, you lose, or you don't play. All the power and money in the world won't change that, because you're dealing with religious nuts; they don't care about power and money - they're doing what they truly deeply believe their Invisible Sky Daddy wants.Their magical thinking is always going to be stronger than your magical thinking. It's really that simple.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

It seems that it is.


Lisa said...

What a terse distillation of our predicament:

We do want to "make the world into a rational and sensible place rather than the monstrous concatenation of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision we should know by now that it is."

And, we fail to see our own irrationality, both in our wishes and our conduct.

Yes also to this:

"Their magical thinking is always going to be stronger than your magical thinking. It's really that simple."

It does seem to come down to Sky Daddy arrogance. Maybe we should not chortle at GWB's desire to avenge his worldly daddy, HW. Showing virility to gain approval and gain validation seems hard-wired. Maybe all who believe in their Sky Daddy are seeking his approval, too, and thereby their own validation.

It seems to be the lead motivator to drive men into the jaws of death.

Leon said...

Looking forward to the next battle, regardless of which it will be I know you'll make it interesting.

Have you done any on the Franco-Prussian war? Seems a pretty significant war but little talked about.

FDChief said...

Lisa: ...and the other thing we should keep in mind is that "rational and sensible" usually means "thinking how I think and wanting what I want". So the idea that some Afghan might be really, REALLY angry because Joe American soldier is running around his country armed just doesn't "make sense" to Joe American Six-Pack. That there soldier is there to HELP that iggnerent raghead! Why does the goofy camel-jockey get all fussy about a little book-burning and a few stray rounds? Geez...

Leon: That'd be Sedan, but I hesitate to tackle it just because there's been so much done so well already. Although Gravelotte/St-Privat might be good for August, where I don't have any other battles left; the chassepots of Bazaine's Armee de la Rhine shoot down the flower of the Prussian Guard but in the end the industrial might of the German states - in the form of Krupp-made breechloading steel-barrel artillery - grinds down the French and seals the day, setting in train the capitulation of Sedan, the siege of Paris, German occupation, and eventually WWI...

Lisa said...

rational and sensible" usually means "thinking how I think and wanting what I want

*sigh* ... alas.

pharris said...

Tossup on the battle pick, Adowa for the victory of the underdogs, Rhineland for the battle that wasn't.

I read long ago (wish I remembered the attribution) that Americans basically can't wrap their heads around the concept that furriners really don't want to be just like us. Due to lack of experience of other cultures, (and lack of any intellectual curiosity about other cultures even in the event of any experience), and a profound lack of respect for any culture that isn't just like ours, we expect that once we show others our obvious superiority every one else in the world will immediately see the error of their ways. Total lack of respect for all cultures other than ours (because they're just WRONG) leads us to reject even considering the notion that there might be anything worthwhile in any other society, and infuriates us when the benighted refuse our example. And we were this way even before we had an empire.

In short, Americans would be the world's worst choice for alien First Contact.

Pluto said...

How about a battle from the Austro-Prussian war of 1866? The Prussians learned a lot from that war that went into the Franco-Prussian war 10 years later.

FDChief said...

Pluto: The only engagement that meant anything was Königgrätz; needle-gun versus muzzle-loaders and Prussian military efficiency against Austro-Hungarian "traditions"; a sort of Jena in reverse...

Interesting idea for July.

FDChief said...

pharris: Which is why we really need to think about some boneheaded version of the Prime Directive; "don't fuck around in other people's business unless you're absolutely sure they're about to fuck around in yours..."

Nah. Never happen...

rangeragainstwar said...

I hate to say the N word, but our present attitude brought to us by gwb was no different than Hitlers msg.
If gwb/hitlers will was great enuf the enemy will roll over for a good butt f---ing.
Didn't work out that way- all the ss troopers and all of socom can't put humpty dumpty back together again.Regardless of a whole lot of will expressed by a fat, dumb and clueless leader/society.

Podunk Paul said...

Why don't you write something about the Italian campaign in Ethiopia? It seems like a preview of the Spanish Civil War.

Also, it would be interesting if you would explain exactly what T.E. Lawrence accomplished. I know there's been much written about him, but where does he stand in military history?

FDChief said...

Paul: I think I want to do the 1896 war first. After that I'll take a look at the 1935 war, tho it was pretty much a walkover - no real "decisive" battles there...

Good ol' Larry of Arabia, eh?

I read a terrific biography of the woman who helped make Iraq Iraq, Gertrude Bell, who along with Lawrence played a big role in the British activities in the Midle East - specifically, setting up the Hashemite kings of several Arab states, including Saudi Arabis, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

From that source I can say with some certainty that both Bell's and Lawrence's influence on Middle Eastern affairs was relatively slight and limited to the immediate period between the wars in much of the ME. The only real exception was Jordan, where the Hashemites still reign. Both of the Britons were frustrated by the Sykes-Picot Agreement (which tossed the Hashemites out of Syria in the Twenties), Iraq was lost to the Sunnis in the Fifties, and the Sauds pretty much kiboshed their influence in Saudi in the Twenties.

Their ideals were a linked assembly of independent Arab states, ruled by Hashemites, who were linked by policy to Britain; a vision that was pretty much extinct by the outbreak of WW2 and is pretty much forgotten today, other than as a vague resentment of Great Britain in the places it fucked over (like Iraq) and some lingering affection in places they didn't (like parts of Yemen).