Thursday, March 28, 2013

Where are we going? And why are we in this handbasket?

Remember Sammy the Whiny Seal we talked about back in February?

Well, turns out that that Dark Nexus of infomercials, CNN, has brewed a tempest in...I don't know, something smaller and less significant than a teacup. A shotglass? (Probably appropriate, since the whole damn nonsense makes me want to drink heavily).

I won't bother you with the sissy-fight, something about which sailor put two rounds in Osama's ten-ring. Go read the article at the link, if you care.

But here's what bugs me. Back in the day we fought dangerous people. Seriously dangerous guys, people who controlled entire armies, fleets, scads of big ol' bombers loaded with torpedoes and five-hundred pound blobs of high explosive. Guys who could command the actions of millions of hard-core, well-trained, dangerous sons-of-bitches.

Well, it took millions of us, but we fought them, and won. And then went back to work, making cars, building houses, watching television, electing rubes and gomers, stealthily gettin' busy after the kids went to bed. Y'know, being regular civilians in a nation at peace.

We got over ourselves, is what I'm saying. We seem to have gotten over getting over ourselves, if this ridiculous nonsense over who actually put bullets in the World's Tallest Saudi is any indication. Faced with the saddest lot of raggedy-ass fundamentalist wannabees we have let ourselves become some sort of quasi-Star Wars Empire, farkling about all over the world, torturing and disappearing people, and letting folks who shouldn't be allowed to run a raffle directing our politics and military operations that most of us don't know - or, much care - about. We're at perpetual war, and yet, who gives a shit?

The guy who shot down the aircraft carrying ADM Isoroku Yamamoto, who could have wreaked more havoc in his sleep than Osama could have on his Best Day Ever,
"...joined the 449th Fighter Squadron in China, still flying P-38s. He claimed three further Japanese planes probably destroyed and damaged, but he was shot down on his 139th mission, bailing out near Kiukiang on April 29. He was rescued by Chinese civilians, who treated his injuries and escorted him to safety five weeks later. At the end of the war, Barber attained the rank of major and commanded one of America's first jet squadrons. He retired as a colonel in 1961."
Guy didn't get out with four years to run until retirement. He didn't get into a public pissing contest with CPT Lanphier, the other guy involved in the shootdown.

It was just another day at war. And when the war was over - which We the People WANTED it to be - we got on with the business of getting back to business.

Now, this. It's perfect; the entire business of this ridiculous "War on Terror" in a shotglass. Neverending. Inconclusive. Utterly meaningless. But chock-full of noisy, furious bullshit.

Who gives a shit who "killed bin Laden"? We soldiers were once taught that we were a team; that every one of us was important to completing the mission, from the chancre-mechanic that gave us our plague shot to the guy who drove the truck that took our Class V down to the port of embarkation, to the cooks who mermited our hot chow up to the firebase to the guy who pulled security while we slept.

And, yet, here we are; sitting at home listening to a couple of knuckleheads pissing down each others' legs about who shot some scruffy wog in a dirty house in butt-rump Pakistan. And CNN, which should have a pantsload of better things to talk about (How did Osama manage to sit around Abbotabad - described as location of "...the regimental headquarters for the Frontier Force Regiment, the Baloch Regiment and Pakistan Army Medical Corps and Kakul Military Academy..." - for years without our old pal Pakistan giving us the heads-up..?), that managed to pass the tenth anniversary of the Iraq Debacle without so much as a whimper of discontent that the montebanks, grifters, thugs, and stooges that lied us into that Mess-o-potamia (and comprehensively screwed what was going on in Afghanistan in the process) are still with us, nattering on Morning Joe and Meet the Press as if they weren't as complicit as Bob MacNamara in getting a bunch of Americans killed in somebody else's goddamn civil war.

If that doesn't say something about us, and something not very complimentary, I don't know what the hell it does.


syrbal/Labrys said...

This is the problem with a war that by definition is made upon, not a nation or individual (Osama aside), but on an IDEA. You really cannot kill an fact, the more attention and bullets and bombs you lavish upon it, the bigger it gets.

Yes, it does make us seem caught in a dystopian fishbowl with no exit. The only idea dying here is the one about what it USED to mean to be American; because THAT idea is being ignored to death and scared to death.

FDChief said...

Which, to my mind, is a good argument to choose your wars carefully; if not you end up Spain in the Netherlands, endlessly chasing your tail trying to crush the "heretics" spending blood and treasure that might be better spend elsewhere.

But I think that this is less about "them" than it is about "us". I don't want to try and argue that we have become something less noble and less wise; I think that most publics everywhere are fickle, feckless, and stupid (a smart person once told me that the intelligence of a crowd is the intelligence of the smartest person it in divided by the total number of individuals); I think the difference is that we have allowed or willed our institutions to become more feckless and stupid. The very organizations that used to "defend" us; - the newspapers and electronic media, our courts, our politicians - seem to have become ever more debased, pandering, willfully ignorant and shortsighted.

Like I said; this moronic "argument" seems to sum up all the Stupid that has gone into our Umpteenth Afghan War. The obsession with minutiae and the blindness to geopolitical costs vs. benefits. The puffery of individual soldiers and the carelessness with the damage being done to the soldiers and their organizations in general. The conflation of a pathetic wannabe like bin Laden with truly dangerous men like Stalin or Tojo who had armies and fleets at their beck and call.

I don't expect us to be truly brilliant. But some small degree of self-interest and perception - like seeing this nonsense for the nonsense that it is - would be nice.

Leon said...

I think one reason behind this argument between "I got the kill!" and "You kill-stealing whore!" is due to media and video games.

How often have the ST6 been used as movie badass superstars? That "hero" label had to have sunk into the collective mindset and influenced people. Perhaps men join ST6 unconsciously thinking they want to do the same one-man-killing-machine you portray in CoD or whatever.

Anecdotally I seem to remember older war movies to be about more regular joes in a specific situation. Now they're always Delta, or a Ranger, or Green Beret, or ST6, quoting badass lines and killing more men individually than gonorrhea and 2am drunken ideas combined.

Ael said...

Fame is fortune.
Follow the money.

FDChief said...

I think you both have parts of this, guys. Because these "wars" have been so painless other than to the people actually fighting them the U.S. public sees them as nothing more than another form of entertainment, a sort of real-life "Stars for Stripes" or paintball wars. I can't help but wonder if that attitude filters back to the guys in the units, especially the elite units that tend to be the "stars" of everything from books to movies to videogames.

In a game it's important whether you "killed" the head badguy; you get more points for that, that's how you "win". Same-same in the entertainment biz; you get the big score, you get he big rating points, you get the Big Money.

So it may well be that what this is about is tied up in these fucking pseudowars as public circuses. The gladiators are competing for the adulation of the crowd and the coins they throw down into the sand of the arena.

And what the hell does THAT say about us, as a people?

Syrbal/Labrys said...

That we need our asses kicked in some inarguable way to remind us what reality looks like?

Honestly, the behavior of the 'average joe' these days does make me think there is no cure for it except over the Fuck Up Falls in a nail lined barrel.

And I hate that feeling!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, a bit of stir in a shot glass.

This guy's many times worse. Meet the front-runner for Congressional AssHole of the Year.


Syrbal/Labrys said...

Oh, Louie....yeah, he gets raked over the BBQ coals of the Most Dangerous Beauty Salon in Texas regular like....but unlike St. Lawrence, he is apparently never DONE.