“...and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I’m ready for war.” – “Marv” from Sin City.
To be filed under: Which war are we fighting?
It’s a month of tough anniversaries up at castle driftglass, which is neither here nor there except it brings freshly back to mind the hard fact that people fight all kinds of battles, for all kinds of reasons.
And sometimes they fight them over and over and over again.
Time after time, an abuser will seek out a victim, and the enabler will seek out an abuser. A certain kind of woman will sift through decent men like a sperm whale going through krill to find the bad boy who will fuck her over, leave her broke and confirm her conviction that Men are Bastards. A certain kind of man will keep driving right on past one decent woman after another to lose himself, yet again, in the high, dead desert with an ice-thing who will carve out his heart with a cuticle pusher, bearing out his personal credo that all Women are Bitches.
And they never see it. Like the unquiet spirit, stalled out in the Moebius-loop of a single instant because they died violently or drunk or steeped in sin, they’re stranded. Locked in.
Like the song says:
“You've got stuck in a moment /And you can't get out of it.”
This comes to mind because the “V”-word is in the water like chum.
I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times already, and it’s a perfectly fine parallel. Vietnam...on speed.
True enough, but not enough. Necessary, but not sufficient, because Iraq is a lot of different wars to a lot of different people. Because there are a lot of different ways for a thing to be true.
Strategically, it's true enough, that Iraq is ‘Nam on terminal speed-up.
Historically, to a typical Muslim living in the Middle East, how could this not be seen the Crusades – chapter and verse. After all, we told them it was.
Iran stands on the border, watching, waiting to see if they need to swarm across the border and take what they want Korea-style, or if the Americans will deliver them a Shiite Theocracy, gift-wrapped, and without losing a single soldier.
And viewed from space, we are surely indistinguishable from Conquistadors: looting an Oil-Dorado on the other side of the planet with Jebus as our wheelman.
But I believe there is something else. Something...subcutaneous about the war in Iraq that is driving it on. The positively ignites certain people, causing them to charge belligerently – irrationally -- in a certain, specific direction.
Wars are historical events, and economic, and strategic, and tactical and philosophical.
But war always shows up brightly in the emotional spectrum, and certain wars – lost wars -- burn like the fire of a thousand suns. Some people (most notably and locally, certain Red State citizens) obsessively re-fight them over and over again, generation after generation.
Losers forever stand on the neck history, jumping up-and-down, demanding a do-over.
And when the banner the losing side fought under was hateful and repulsive, the lies and delusions that the defeated use to radically revise and prettify a murderous history and ideology into a glorious and noble “Lost Cause” also get passed down, father to son, like hemophilia.
So look at the brief and bloody history of Iraq and note that...
...it is a war began by a Southern President.
...it is a war began by rich men and fought by the poor.
...it is war sold to Americans as a Noble Cause.
...it is a war of pre-emption against a hated enemy that we were told we HAD to attack before it was too late.
...it is a war sold on the defense of our “way of life” rather than a specific, measurable, strategic objective.
And come the 2004 election -- an election was all about Iraq -- look how the nation split; right down the Mason-Dixon Line. Of course not perfectly Not exactly. The West is what it is, and there are plenty of fools in the North and Good Guys in the South, but you cannot look at the ’04 election map and NOT notice that something deep and pathological was playing itself out.
A nation split into a Southron Republican Confederacy of the Mind and a Northern Democratic Union.
A Dixiecrat GOP who detach themselves ever more from even tangential contact with reality and more and more hysterically insist the Cause is Noble (whatever the Cause has morphed into this week) and the War is Not Lost, whose followers grow more deranged and fanatical by the hour, being goaded deeper and deeper into insane denial by the daily headlines ...and arrogant Yanks, who keep rubbing the Republican’s collective nose in the fact that their President is objectively a liar and their Cause is a Disaster.
This by Faulker – my third-favorite Southern writer -- explains it better than I can (line-breaks added by me). It’s long, but it gets to the marrow of it, and the writing is like stumbling onto an overturned a jewel-box, so enjoy it:
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance,
it hasn't happened yet,
it hasn't even begun yet,
it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armstead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think,
“This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose and all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago....”
Strategically and historically, the debacle in Iraq obviously matches up very well to Vietnam-at-78-rpm. And with his war crimes and corrupt-goon-squad-traitor White House combo-platter, George Bush manages to combine the most detestable aspects of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
That’s how I’ll deal with it when the fall comes -- when the horror-show that has arguably been the worst Presidency in modern history unravels into the history books like the intestines spilling out of a gut-shot Clio.
Next year in irons standing before the bar of justice, or (more likely) six years from now in a Supersized version of O.J. Simpson pariah/internal-exile, Bush someday will be just another monster President we have clean up after, prosecute if possible, inoculate against, and move past.
But that’s me. That’s most people I know. But not, I think, the South.
Every day the White House dickslaps them in the face with huge, baldface lies, treasons and disrespect. Every day this White House delivers back to them their dead and mutilated children -- the price-tag for those lies and treasons -- and the Southern Republican Man smiles his dimwit, gimlet smile and goes right back and re-elects the same cocksuckers over and over again.
Ha! That’ll show them damned Yanks!
They’re running a whole different program. A whole different Operating System; one that’s had a Peculiar Poison laced and tangled into its cultural DNA for the last century and a half.
Strategically, Iraq may be Vietnam, but emotionally the Red States are smack in the middle of the American Civil War.
(Shit, in big parts of this country, isn’t every-fucking-thing a re-fighting of Gettysburg?)
For the Dixicrat GOP citizens, Bush proxies for Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee. And no matter how absurd a liar the unclouded eye sees him to be, no matter how peyote-for-breakfast-and-bad-acid-for-lunch delusional you have to be to still not see the truth, to the Red State Rebs each word that spills from his mouth is the unvarnished Gospel.
Iraq stands in as the latest iteration of the Glorious Cause, and it is literally unthinkable that the War could possibly be lost.
God is, after all, on their side, right?
They want to fight and win a Great Struggle that we nattering Northerners said was impossible...and then shove it up our asses and have 150 years of humiliation finally redeemed.
But to fail...again?
To ever have to admit that they have been chumped, again? Lost, again? Duped into a disastrous war by rich men, again? On a pack of lies, again? And having to endure the fucking Yankees laugh at them for being such fucking morons...again?
Better to die first. Better everybody die first.
Or, as Marv said, “These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I’m ready for war.”
God help us all.