A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Thursday, May 27, 2004 :::
When Entertainers Go Too Far.

Hearing the sui generis, haunting voice of Natalie Merchant this morning reminded A Mind That Suits of a question an old housemate asked: how could a conservative tolerate the oh, so self-consciously leftist Ms. Merchant. It was a leftwing humorist, this housemate pointed out, who speculated that she would one day issue an album entitled "Cycling to the Recycling Center." It is true, her politics intrude and offend at nearly every point, but she is very good, and besides, replied A Mind That Suits, what was asserted by the questioner was true of nearly all entertainers. After all, the questioner himself was an unflagging fan of John Lennon, whose politics it is best simply to pass over.

But there are limits. Shortly after it played a song by the 10,000 Maniacs, Ms. Merchant's launching pad, the XM radio station offered something by Radiohead, whom A Mind That Suits not merely tolerates but reveres. Their last album, however, was called "Hail to the Thief." The title is not only gratuitously political, it is inaccurate, as it was the Democrats who tried to undo the laws of Florida, which they themselves wrote and which their own state Attorney General was enforcing. Plus, Radiohead has no American citizens among its members, which grates, although we have the broadest free expression laws in the world, even under the Patriot Act.

And he doubts he would buy an album whose main theme was recycling. In fact, he thinks he has nothing by Ms. Merchant in his stack of CD's. He has lots of Radiohead, but not all.

What Should We Have Planned For.

The question is always asked, what should the US have planned for in Iraq? Thomas Macuban Owen, a military commentator ensconced at the American Enterprise Institute and holding forth in the National Review, even went so far as to remind us that military plans go by the board the minute battle starts, and it is a tribute to the fighting men and women of the US that they have been able to adapt so readily. (Link for this will be supplied later.) This rather neatly pole vaults over the question of whether or not those troops were forced into situations that they should not have had to face. And he certainly does not mean that it would be excusable if a commander launched a frontal assault against a cliff, though some have tried.

We will take up one by one the things which should have been planned for. Today's is simple: Were they knowingly put into a position of being police after having been denied adequate training, on the grounds that police and military work are fundamentally different? The answer to that question is most emphatically "yes." It is friend Eddie over at One Good Turn who said,"Why not just say this is what war is like now and give them the training?" Nearly every writer, even ones who are trying to assure us that the war is going well, admit that the security situation for the average Iraqi can be quite intolerable, depending on the city. (In other areas it is going well.)

The indispensable Wall Street Journal has not one, but two, articles talking about the intolerable security situation in some towns. Intolerable, and inexcusable, because it was easy enough to predict and in fact was predicted, by the Future of Iraq project at the State Department, which Donald Rumsfeld specifically refused to listen to.

The failure to understand this is reflected not only in the lack of properly trained troops, but inadequate standing orders. Think of the toppling of the statue of Saddam. The troops should have been enforcing a strict curfew and not participating in the revelry. Such crowds are hard to control at college football games. They should not have been allowed in such a dangerous situation.

That would have given the Iraqis a chance to adjust, and our troops the chance to control the situation.

Tomorrow: WMD, and then on to troop levels, training, language skills, and some other things.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 4:12 PM



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