Monday, December 04, 2006

Der Fuhrer and Der Fruitcake

We should all know by now that Deputy Dubya Bush's unforced geo-strategic error in Iraq will end, as T. S. Elliot said: "Not with a bang but a whimper."

Empires have lost entire armies before, usually through arrogance, negligence, or just the wooden-headed stupidity of amateur "leaders" who confuse linguistic mixed metaphors and flawed figures of speech -- like "ink stains," "dominoes," and "flypaper" -- for grand strategy and logistics. Usually, though, the mundane Law of Diminishing Returns proves the real killer of hugely-expensive imperial legions mismatched against relatively "cheap" local native guerrillas far, far away from the imperial capital and near, near to the sewers and rubble that the natives know best and use to their inexpensive advantage. Historical examples multiply themselves effortlessly. In Southeast Asia four decades ago, America sent aircraft carrier battle groups halfway around the world to destroy bamboo bridges. In Iraq and Afghanistan today, America does the equivalent to destroy "safe houses" and "bad weddings." Even more so than most misguided empires, America seems nearly impervious to learning the simple, bad economics of its untenable situation.

Speaking of "Enemy at the Gates," though, I remember a scene in the movie where the German commander with complete land and air superiority over the ruined remains of Stalingrad complains that he has destroyed everything of value that an army can destroy and yet still Der Fuhrer insists that he keep at it for "symbolic" reasons while pathetic, rag-tag Russian snipers continue decimating his officer corps one bullet at a time. The Russian winter did cause the fuel in German tanks to freeze, of course, somewhat in the way that the desert sands of Iraq grind American armored machinery into increasing uselessness; but the addled and isolated strategic idiot in his bubble/bunker back home babbling about "staying the course" and "standing up" (while staying the curse and falling down) illustrates the whole sorry saga just as revealingly from the other end of the supply line now stretched near the breaking point from noplace to nowhere for nothing.

America had its own little mini-Dunkirk in Saigon thirty years ago. Unedified by national near-death experiences, however, Der Fruitcake seems taken with the notion of going after the Iranian-backed Shiites who only have to set up toll booths on the Kuwaiti border to maroon his precariously over-extended American expeditionary force, leaving them like so many Christian crusaders out of food and water with no choice but to desperately "go for it" at the Horns of Hattin. Stalingrad, Dien Bien Phu, or Dunkirk: pick your debacle and pick apart the distinctions-without-a-difference (like snow vs sand) between them, but if the Shiite puppet Nuri al-Maliki really wants to gain street credibility (i.e., political legitimacy) among his occupied and humiliated people, he'll see to it that America goes the Dunkirk route (the Sunnis have already done the Russian Stalingrad sniper thing well enough) only I don't see where America can round up all the necessary boats for the evacuation of our foreign legionnaires, their carpetbagging corporate camp followers, and their captive dependent puppets inside the Baghdad Green Zone Castle. You just never can find enough unused yachts floating around nearby when you really need them. No "graceful" exit, indeed.


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