The War as Advertised

Dubya, Rumsfeld et al are half right when they bitch about the second-guessing they’ve been getting in the press. The half they’ve got right is that it’s utterly ridiculous to judge how the war’s going when we’re less than two weeks in; it’s like deciding you don’t like an entire opera based solely on the overture. If we are going to judge then let’s judge it as honestly as possible and note that as wars go, this one is pretty successful so far. Our casualties are low, we control much of the countryside (even if the cities are giving us fits), and while the mad dash across the desert has its disadvantages, such as Fedayeen taking pot shots at our supply lines, which themselves are currently stretched thin enough that troops are rationing their MREs, to my utterly ignorant military eye that’s several hundred miles of desert these troops don’t have to cross when the weather gets hot and mean, which I understand will be happening sooner than later. So all that’s encouraging. The rumblings about the mechanics of the war don’t sound particularly thrilling (especially this one, which seems like bad news all around), but strictly from the results end, it’s so far, so good.

The thing is, the war we’re having isn’t the war we were sold. This is where the press and everyone else is justified in calling the administration on the carpet, all the better to hear the rrrrrhhhhmp sound of dress shoes backtracking. The administration line right now is that it never actually said that this war was going to be so quick that all the troops would be back home in time for baseball’s opening day, but if it didn’t (an assertion which isn’t strictly true), it certainly went out of its way to imply it with extreme prejudice.

Put it this way: You go into your car dealership to buy a car, and the salesman steers you towards one of those sweet new Thunderbirds. You plunk down your cash and then go have lunch while they detail your new purchase. When you come back, they present you with a Ford Excursion, which can seat most of Fort Bragg in the back.

And you say, what happened to the car I bought?

And the salesman says, this is it.

And you say, I wanted the Thunderbird.

And he says, well, this one is much nicer.

And you say, sure, it’s a nice car, but it wasn’t what I thought I was getting.

And then the salesman rather testily replies that he never actually promised you could have the Thunderbird, so he doesn’t see why you’re complaining about it now. You get the Excursion. Take it and get the Hell off the lot.

In this war, we were promised a Thunderbird and we’re driving off the lot with the Excursion. The Excursion may indeed be a fine vehicle, if you’re into that sort of thing. But it’s not what we bargained for, nor what we were led to believe we would get, and it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to point that out.

And here you might say, caveat emptor, pal — let the buyer beware. Maybe so. But at least when you buy a car, if it turns out to be a lemon you can send it back. This war we have to keep.

10 Comments on “The War as Advertised”

  1. That is so true…Car Dealerships will screw you given half the chance.

    No really. I have been in this frame of mind that we’re only getting half of the story on the war since before it started.

    Nice to see someone else partly shares that point of view with me. I think if our nation is at war, then the least the government could do is be a little more straight forward with us.

  2. John,

    I keep coming back to Whatever because so often you echo exactly what I’m thinking and screaming in my head. Plus you make me laugh out loud.

    Anyhoo, I recall totally screaming at the TV about the ‘bait and switch’ of the Bush Administration. Hello?! What happened to this quick, painless, easy war we were going to have?! Now he’s saying we’re in “for the long haul”. Criminy. I’m really glad that someone else noticed this backpedaling.

    Argh. I can’t even watch the news anymore…high risk of aneurysms by the incredulity of applicable utter stupidity.

    Incidentally, I forward “I Hate Your Politics” and both articles on the Confederacy being evil
    most often and liberally. Thanks for doing what you do and please don’t stop sharing all that’s random on your mind.


    p.s. The answer to your question is ‘yes’. ;)

  3. The great thing about knowing the answer is “yes” is now I can ask whatever question I want! Oh, the options.

    “high risk of aneurysms by the incredulity of applicable utter stupidity.”

    Man, I wish I had written that.

  4. John,

    I was referring to the unspoken question about my name. It’s usually right on the tip of any self respecting sci-fi geek (and I mean that in the most loving way..) – so the answer is yes.


    p.s. Thanks for the compliment. Amusingly enough, I find a “What the f—?!” followed by a deep sigh and incoherent muttering usually helps. Oh, and the yoga.

  5. Actually, and this shows what sort of geek *I* am, when I see the word “Uhura,” I think of the Uhura x-ray satellite we lunched in the early 70s. What can I say, I’m a dork.

  6. Since I don’t think I can comment on your older Whatevers, I would like to say now that the one from 9/11/02 was very helpful for me that day; it got passed on several times and used to introduce a couple of friends to your site to good effect.

  7. That last comment, FYI, was a waaaaay inside joke involving me, my friend Kevin, and a fairly spectacular car accident. It’s funny now — and, actually, pretty funny at the time, too, thought less so than now.