I keep looking for deeper meaning in the World Cup, particularly as General McChrystal reportedly called his band of Myrmidons “Team America.” This morning reigning champion Italy played Slovakia. As I am mezzo Italiano and polovicny Slovensko I was somewhat torn in expressing any preference at all. I looked for clues in the two national anthems, noting that all the Slovaks but one sang along while the Italians really got into it, singing and waving arms about, almost like a final Rossini chorus at La Scala. The game really mattered as the winner went into the round of 16 and the loser went home. As an American, I like to see some points on the board so I was pleased to see five goals and two others by Italy that might have been allowed. Italy, which won it all in 2006, lost 3 to 2 and is now reported to be flying home on Alitalia in coach with no liquor allowed and a large and growing pile of rotten fruit awaiting for a coupe de grace at Leonardo da Vinci.
I have to see the Slovaks as the Taliban. Wild, rough, and a little loose in their behavior, but highly motivated and feeling that they were the team of destiny. Definite underdogs. The Italians were pure Petraeus-McChrystal. Professional, disciplined, and prepared to methodically grind down the opponent. Using overwhelming force and relying on training. Expected to win. But sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way. The McChrystal Team America Marjah offensive was definitely both a PR disaster and a loss and it looks like Kandahar is turning out to be an own-goal loss to Karzai’s brother and his band of thieves. Will the new coach Petraeus be able to turn things around? Stay tuned, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.
Am I the only one who has noted that the demise of McChrystal might mean that we will no longer be hearing from the Kagans? What a blessing that would be! He and she were McChrystal’s esteemed civilian advisers but they might not have Petraeus’ ear.