Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rah, Rah, Siss Boom Bah

The other day I saw a pasty-faced guy with a serious abdominal adiposity (as we say in the public health biz) heading for the pizza stand. He was wearing a military-style buzz cut and a t-shirt with the Multi-National Force- Iraq logo and the words "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on the front; and on the back, "Ar-Ramadi, Iraq" and the USMC logo.

Now, if this guy ever served in the military, he hasn't done a five-mile march or eaten a MRE for at least ten years. But what does the t-shirt really mean? It's basically no different from the guy in line behind him with the Manny Ramirez number 24 jersey. The guy is a fan. He's rooting for his team, living vicariously through his heroes, manly men like he can never be.

And this is basically what's going on in the political debate over the war. The pro-war crowd doesn't bother to say what, exactly, we are trying to accomplish by staying in Iraq, what the benefits are supposed to be, or what the plan is. In fact, there isn't any plan. The issue is simply that "we" have to "win." That's it. Baseball players never give up, they keep fighting to win until the final out. And that's what "we" have to do in Iraq, because we can't be losers.

Here's what an actual smart person, George Kennan, said about the Vietnam War in 1966:

"There is more respect to be won in the opinion of this world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant and unpromising objectives."

Unfortunately, our country is led by an idiot.

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