The road to empire

For the fourth straight year, the holiday season was fundamentally undermined. If you’re going to honor the Prince of Peace, how exactly do you put your heart and soul into such a celebration while knowing that the honoree Himself would be stricken dumb with horror at what is taking place in the land of His Existence? Isn’t any real celebration of the birth of the Christ made utterly hollow when one knows that, at that very moment, one of one’s countrymen is in ancient Babylon, blowing off an arm or having an arm blown off? It’s like throwing a huge birthday party for Bill Gates and, as the high point of the evening’s entertainment, having Alice Cooper incinerate a four-story stack of computers with diesel fuel and a welding torch.The basic message from the Iraq Study Group, as interpreted by a pissy columnist who’s tired of watching his country act like a drunken rassler: The war was a lousy idea based on a bizarre fantasy propped up by horseshit intelligence and guided by a lunkheaded strategy developed by myopic ironheads who keep thinking this is WW2. We did one thing well: bust the place up. Outside of that, we’ve been as sharp, clever and flexible as the Incredible Hulk.

If one could get W to put down the biography of Mickey Mantle for a while, he might find Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East a good read. In this comprehensive look at the region during the past 100 years as seen through the eyes of a journalist who’s been there, Mr. Bush would read this quote from T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a Lawrence of Arabia, which appeared in a London newspaper in 1920: “The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. … Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. We are today not far from a disaster.” Of equal interest to Dub would be this passage written by that flaming leftist Pat Buchanan shortly before the invasion: “To destroy Saddam’s weapons, to democratize, defend and hold Iraq together, U.S. troops will be tied down for decades. … For a militant Islam that holds in thrall scores of millions of true believers will never accept George Bush dictating the destiny of the Islamic world. With our MacArthur Regency in Baghdad, Pax Americana will reach apogee. But then the tide recedes, for the one endeavor at which Islamic peoples excel is expelling imperial powers by terror and guerrilla war. They drove the Brits out of Palestine and Aden, the French out of Algeria, the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Americans out of Somalia and Beirut, the Israelis out of Lebanon. … We have started up the road to empire, and over the next hill we will meet those who went before. The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.”