Afghanistan: The Disaster Movie
Americans love movie rereads. The same types of characters in the same types of places doing the same types of things in only slightly different ways. Think Star Wars. Think Matrix. Think the Smokey flicks.
We also seem to love political disaster retreads. Think Vietnam. Think Iraq. Think what’s about to happen in Afghanistan.
One good way to appreciate the newest addition to the ongoing America’s Empire Goes Down The Toilet saga is thus to view the Afghanistan drama as if it were a movie. Here’s how it’s playing:
First, we have the background set up. Our military has a sure-fire plan for victory if we give it everything it wants, but offers no guarantees if we don’t. As always, the place selected for this plan is a backwater in which the United States has no historical, cultural or economic interests, but a land nonetheless represented in Washington by a high powered lobbying firm. The crisis that must be met here has been scripted by some of our country’s best minds — i.e. the talking heads who appear most often on Sunday morning TV.
The plot of this sure to be epic feature adventure in the existential threat the Taliban represents for America. (“Existential threat,” a term coined by Israelis trying to get us to bomb Iran, has now become as critical to advancing an argument in Washington as “robust response” and is therefore used numerous times on this movie.) The fact that a Taliban-led Afghanistan is no more nor less a danger to our security than a chaotic Somalia, or al-Quada cells in German apartment houses or a Colorado garden apartment, is irrelevant to this movie’s plot, just as it is equally irrelevant in Washington policy making circles.
The movie’s main characters include an arch villain. Here, of course, played by Osama ben Laden, the Fu Manchu of Central Asia. Next there’s a charismatic American military commander, a part played by the photogenic Westmoreland in Iraq, shock and awe Franks in Iraq, and in keeping with our own era’s changed tastes, the intellectually gifted Patraes. With Martin Sheen not available to play the American president, he is played here by chap with a much too brainy rep and a desperate need to show he’s got the requisite cajones for his job. Casting about for an Afghan lead, our film’s director has come up with a fellow who not only speaks unaccented English, but dresses better than Jesse Jackson.
Action: After a bang up opening, the movie lapses into a dull eight year hiatus. But a critical moment has finally arrived — a plot point, in movie lingo. A great decision has to be made. Do we go in full bore, clearly the right and necessary thing to do in this retread script. Or do we listen to a bunch of wishy-washy, spineless, peacenik, self-hating, granola eating, dope smoking wuzzes, who point out that this is just another distraction from the real threat actually located centered in another country.
Well, we all know who is going to win this argument. This is retread stuff, after all. On To victory In Afghanistan will be featured on your TV screen for years to come, playing side by side with The Never Quite Real Economic Recovery Story. Happy Viewing!