Sunday, October 30, 2011

After the Banquet in Baghdad

Hearing President Barack Obama promise – again – that all remaining American military forces would (after almost eight years) leave Iraq within the next two months, I recalled something that George Orwell wrote in his essay entitled, Catastrophic Gradualism:

"There is a theory which has not yet been accurately formulated or given a name, but which is very widely accepted and is brought forward whenever it is necessary to justify some action which conflicts with the sense of decency of the average human being. It might be called, until some better name is found, the Theory of Catastrophic Gradualism. According to this theory, nothing is ever achieved without bloodshed, lies, tyranny and injustice, but on the other hand no considerable change for the better is to be expected as the result of even the greatest upheaval. History necessarily proceeds by calamities, but each succeeding age will be as bad, or nearly as bad as the last. ...

"The formula usually employed is 'You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.' And if one replies, 'Yes, but where is the omelet?' the answer is likely to be: 'Oh, well, you can't expect everything to happen all in a moment.'"
Hence, a few lines of verse:

"After the Banquet in Baghdad”

With their tails tucked proudly 'tween their legs
Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2011

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