Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting for Superman

Don't Piss On The Wall

We here in Stability gathered around the televisions late into last evening to watch the boss’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Or at least, most people did.  I bailed after the first four senators “questioned” the general – too much fellatio for my taste, and I am assured that the last 3 hours were as boring and non-confrontational as the first one was.  I had lunch with a staffer to the CNO a couple of months ago.  He gave the impression that he was privy to Sen. Levin’s deliberations on the war, and that he (the Senator) was prepared to ask some tough questions about the objective of our mission here in Afghanistan.  But I despaired when he said that the Senator was going to ask for “a drawdown”, thinking to myself, “Debating troop levels is playing in P4’s back yard, and he will mop the floor with you.”  I needn’t have worried:  Levin was a French poodle last night, when a pit bull was clearly called for.

But something occurred to me as I watched what passed for congressional oversight:  our discussion of the war is paralyzed by an unspoken, baseline assumption that governs our approach to just about every public policy question:  America can do anything.

Pervasive corruption among “our” side of Afghan’s civil war?  “We’ve got a tough road ahead,” etc., but we’ve “got the inputs right.”  Educability of blacks and Hispanics lags that of whites?  More money and/or charter schools and/or union busting will save us.  Deindustrialization leaving us in hock to the Chinese?  “Job training programs” will teach us all to be financiers.  And on and on.

Petraeus, no doubt, wants more time and money.  Where is the Senator that will tell him flat out:  we’re short on time, and out of money.  Petraeus (when it occurs to anyone to ask) will insist on the importance of denying the Al Qaeda a safe haven.  But Al Qaeda is now quite comfortable in Pakistan, and there will always be another failed state in which they can thrive.  The end he seeks is beyond the means required (global war), and is not the most effective means anyway, compared to sealing the border against Muslims.

But nobody – not Republicans, and certainly not Democrats – are willing to say these things, because to do so would challenge the first principle of our political discourse:  America can do anything.  All we need is more time and money.

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