Oh, don't worry, this is Clinton's war not Bush's. Drones are Bush war, with the presumption that all men between the ages of 12 and 50 (military age males) are combatants, and bombs away! Republicans are gonna kill some fucking hajjis, that's how they roll. Dems go for "humanitarian military intervention," a term that ought to make Christians cringe a lot more than me speaking in the masculine voice (above). "Bush is a gunfighter. Clinton is a good-hearted cop. Obama is both." He may be writing that on a bathroom wall somewhere right now.
Get used to it. When war is in the air, even the reporters like to talk like Generals, "striking their command and control centers," and discussing "target potfolios," their eyes alive with a slightly loony simulation of mission-resolve in their layer upon layer of simulacra, actors playing reporters playing Generals; and we can all tune in, participate from within our smart, technological living spaces, following the action. People are going to be killed and we can be in on it, we can approve of it, we can play along.
We are with the principalities and powers. Even when it is tragically, oh so tragically, necessary to drop bombs on human beings to fulfill our responsibility to protect. (It even has an acronym, R2P.) Does no one hear the echoes - I suppose not now that there is a black decoy in the oval office - of the phrase "white man's burden"? The one great accomplishment of post-racial America. We have effaced the white supremacy that is so much the legacy of the very imperium that steams through the Med as this is written.
Actors playing actors playing leaders. A lasagna of simulacra. And the ships steam on, function-testing their cruise missiles as they cut a V in the water.
We are datastreamed in with and in to the principalities and powers, plugged right into a seamless feed between White House, Pentagon, media, and the supporting punditry, to civil society that can mediate the civic religion for us. Get behind the Commander-in-Chief! Support the troops!
We can, for a moment at least, be one again, undivided in our superiority over those savages and our responsibility to protect the innocent among them. America, the very nation selected by Providence to stand astride of the earth.
"It looks now not like a question of if, but when," quipped one of the MSNBC actors, giving us permission to just sit back and go with the flow. Democratic media channel Democratic messages to Democrats, and now we are receiving the suggestion - like the subjects of mass hypnosis - that this is a Democrat war, and this will be a good war. This won't be Iraq. This will be Kosovo. Few US casualties. "Surgical" strikes only. Teach the lesson and get out.
Media loves this shit. Wolf Blitzer, who never saw a Pentagon ass he wouldn't kiss, is running a special, orchestra-music whipping the frenzy, bold graphics - Crisis in Syria!!! Red line. Red line. Red line. Our credibility is at stake, dammit!
Things being what they are, we can expect the dick-measuring contest to begin any minute now. Someone, somewhere has to suggest that we go further, are more decisive, more deadly... that we must take Assad out of power. Which macho-boy Washington pol can show the greatest and most masculine belligerence? Who has the big one?
The Republicans can't make much headway putting a pussy-jacket on Obama, though. He is already wearing one that says, "I killed Osama bin Laden." He can be the stern but benevolent father, and make the Republican Party look like buffoons (which they become better at every day).
The hope, of course, is that key "punitive" strikes will just happen to hit enough of the military infrastructure in the right places to allow the greatest post-strike advantage to the least offensive fractions of the resistance. Magical thinking always takes over when even the smartest boys get their hands on the most lethal toys. It flushes their brains with toxic doses of dopamine; and they begin to believe they have control where they absolutely do not.
Okay, that one doesn't have the same resonance as "Bombs away!" but the fact is bombs do. Ramify.
Ever accidentally step on a yellow jacket nest? Think of your foot as an inadvertent (meaning I make no moral comparisons here) bomb. The ramification begins immediately. The yellow jackets do not plod along at the same tasks as if they never experienced this little cataclysm.
People who drop bombs know that. That's one of the great things about bombs, from the standpoint of the tactician. If the situation is static, and that's not working for you, bombs can put things back into motion.
Ambulances and firetrucks arrive. Crowds gather. Chains of command are activated. People begin to question and reposition. The stories begin. Anger comes onto the scene like a weather front. I can feel it myself, right now, before the first bomb, like smelling rain before a storm.
Wrecking crews have to clean up. Funerals and news stories. Some people lose a great deal. Some gain. Some have choices taken away. Others discover new opportunities.
Does anyone seriously believe this is predictable? Foreign bombs into a bloody civil war?
Actually, they do. Or they have to pretend that they do. I'm never altogether sure about this from one actor to another. So they employ managers and metrics.
When I was at West Point teaching military science, we told the plebes that being an Army officer meant being "a manager of violence." I shit you not, those were the exact words we used even as we drove them mad with sleep deprivation and Samuel Huntington's model of professionalism. Huntington was on par there with Kant or Aquinas.
At least with Huntington, you are allowed to outsource moral decision-making... ours is not to reason why.
Never say things can't get worse. They sure as hell can. A few bombs increases the chance of "worse" by orders of magnitude.
This is gonna be good. We can sit in our smart homes with our smart phones, operating our smart entertainment centers to show us smart bombs in action, the "convergence," as my friend Davin Heckman would say, of technology being accomplished with that one, final, practical task - "servicing the target" with a Tomahawk Cruise missile.
We name our attack helicopters "Apaches." Tomahawks, Apaches, like we got to eat the heart of of these conquests to absorb their battle courage. We name our toys after those we have destroyed. Blackhawk gunships. Kiowa helicopters.
Someday, perhaps, we will name our stuff after various Muslims.
Wow, did you know some performer did something on MTV?
People make tools, then the tools make them. Men make war, then war makes men. We will not be made noble in war. A little secret from a soldier. You always hear that no one hates war more than those who participate in them. It's a half-truth. The other half is, no one loves war more than those who participate in them.
War is a contagion in the minds of men.
But I digress...
What I'm waiting to see is church. Churches. Your church. My church.
Will we be lukewarm? Will Jesus be put in the service of a bomb? Bombs? Will we learn to say things like "collateral damage"? Will we employ the phrase "humanitarian military intervention"?
What do we do now?
Will we be Nathan to Obama's David? Christ telling Peter to lay aside his sword? Can we finally be faithful to the way of the cross?
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.