[FoRK] "Your Fish, Sir"

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Wed Apr 14 14:25:15 PDT 2004

Wow.  Form, style, substance.  Bravo, Mr. Lind.  (No relation to Paul, 
I assume. Oh, that was Lynde, never mind.)  Brilliant!  Amuse-bouche 
indeed!  Such a tortured framing metaphor, yet executed with conviction 
and panache.  +1, no, +3!

Found via jrobb:



“Your Fish, Sir”

By William S. Lind

In the twelve-course meal that is the war in Iraq, America has just 
been served the first entree. The fight with Iraq’s state armed forces 
was merely the amuse-bouche. The subsequent guerilla war with the 
Baath, as distasteful as we found it, was still just the appetizer. 
Over the past two weeks, we have been presented with the first of the 
main courses, Fourth Generation war waged for religion. If, as is 
traditional, this is the fish course, our reaction suggests it is 

Frankly, I was surprised how quickly this dish arrived. It seems 
Mohammed’s kitchen is working rather more speedily than usual. While a 
broadening and intensifying of the anti-American resistance was 
inevitable, I did not think it would reach its present intensity until 
this summer. The fact that is has erupted so early has political as 
well as military implications. The full scope of our disaster in 
Syracuse – er, sorry, Iraq – may be evident before the party 
conventions, as well as prior to the fall election. Might Bush do an 
LBJ and choose not to run? Will a Kerry who voted for the war be a 
credible nominee? Military disaster can displace all sorts of 

It is not yet a disaster, some may say. On the tactical level, that is 
true, although it may not be true much longer. But on the strategic 
level it is not just one disaster, it is four:


       The pretense that we came to “liberate” the Iraqi people and not 
as conquerors is no longer credible. Faced with a popular uprising, we 
effectively declared war on the people of Iraq. The overall American 
commander, General Abizaid, “gave a stark warning for the Iraqi 
fighters, from the minority Sunni as well as the majority Shiite 
populations,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “’First, we are 
going to win,’ Abizaid said, seated at a table in a marbled palace 
hall…’Secondly, everyone needs to understand that there is no more 
powerful force assembled on Earth than this military force in this 
country…’” That is the language of conquest, not liberation, and it 
destroys the legitimacy of America’s presence in Iraq, both locally and 
around the world.


       We have now picked a fight with the Shiites, who control our 
lines of communication and who make up a majority of the Iraqi 
population. I thought that even the Valley of the Blind that is the CPA 
would have better sense than to make this final, fatal strategic 
blunder, but it seems they can always find a new ditch to stumble into. 
We did it over the utterly trivial matter of Muqtada al-Sadr’s 
newspaper printing lies – this from an American administration that 
long ago won the Order of Pinocchio, First Class, with Oak Leaves, 
Swords and Diamonds. While many Iraqi Shiites don’t much like al-Sadr, 
they like seeing Americans kill fellow Shiites even less.


       The Marines threw away the opportunity to de-escalate the 
fighting with the Sunnis in Fallujah and instead have raised the 
intensity of anti-Americanism there. For months, the Marines trained 
for de-escalation. But because of one minor incident of barely tactical 
importance, the killing of four American contractors, the de-escalation 
strategy was thrown out the window and replaced by an all-out assault 
on an Iraqi city. The Marines may have been given no choice by the 
White House, but it also looks as if their own training did not go very 
deep; the Plain Dealer quoted a Marine battalion commander in Fallujah 
as saying, “What is coming is the destruction of anti-coalition forces 
in Fallujah. They have two choices: Submit or die.” That is hardly the 
language of de-escalation.


Finally, our whole “say good-bye at the end of June” strategy depends 
on the reliability of the Iraqi security forces we have been busy 
creating. But when faced with fighting their own people on behalf of 
Christian foreigners, most of them went over or went home. This was 
utterly predictable, but its effect is to leave us without any exit 
strategy at all.

So what comes next? The current violence may follow a sine wave, ebbing 
and then flowing again, with the whole curve gradually trending up. Or, 
it may rise in a linear, accelerating curve, in which case we will soon 
be driven out of Iraq, possibly in a full-scale sauve que peut rout. 
The former appears more likely, but it still leads to the same ending, 
if taking a bit more time to get there.

Unlike traditional twelve-course dinners, this one does not finish with 
a dessert or a savoury. It ends, to borrow one of John Boyd’s favorite 
phrases, with the “coalition” getting the whole enchilada right up the 
p--- chute. You cannot get anything you want at Mohammed’s restaurant.

William S. Lind is Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at 
the Free Congress Foundation

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