Today’s Wash Post has a headline article on Afghanistan which notes that a major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province earlier this year was “slowed” due to “political pressure from the Afghan government.” Confirmation that Afghanistan’s so-called government has only limited authority over a war being fought on its own territory rather suggests that Americans are dying to support a latter day Potemkin village-north-of-the Khyber Pass. And worse is coming. Like many other Americans I am dreading the Obama speech Tuesday night which will undoubtedly prove that even smart presidents can behave like a-holes. It will be the first Obama speech that I will actually watch, particularly as it does not conflict with Dancing With the Stars.
A blog site poster this weekend suggested that we Americans should begin to make preparations for an AfPak War Memorial in Washington. He/She proposed a nice, currently vacant plot of land on the Mall next to the Vietnam Memorial. As the Vietnam memorial is already down in a hole, the AfPak moument could be a hole that keeps getting deeper. To enter it you have to pass under a Dantesque gateway that has “Quagmire” written across it. There might even be enough room for a Global War on Terror monument, possibly a rendition of a stylized Washington bureaucrat shown spending large sums of money on nothing.
The absurdity of what we are doing in so many places and the speculation about a war memorial reminded me of an awful bit of black humor circulating at my army intelligence unit during the Vietnam War. National Lampoon had published a cartoon of a proposed Vietnam memorial that was a grand version of a McDonald’s restaurant of that era with two magnificent golden arches. Spanning the arches was an inscription reading “We are all meat.” The absurdity of the monument and inscription was just what we needed to cope with the prospect of shipping out to ‘Nam so we made a large copy of the proposed memorial and hung it on the wall. But it proved unpopular with several senior officers so we mounted it on a two sided frame back to back with an approved print of General Patton’s 3rd Army Tanks breaking through to Bastogne. Whenever we were expecting visitors we would flip over the frame to conceal the McDonalds’ war memorial.