Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Of Fractions and Factions

So one of the truisms of my childhood is that "Knowing is half the battle." Various members of the military services told me this, often after saving a child who had gone swimming too soon after eating, or who had inadvertantly set fire to his sisters bedspread with napalm. You know stuff like that. Then the GI Joe hero, who was as we all know, a "Real American" would counsel the wayward child about why you shouldn't do dangerous thing XY or Z. This after an episode in which people shot at one another with laser guns that appear to have the lethality of the gun they use for price checks. But I digress.

So I, and nearly everyone in my age cohort knows that knowing is half the battle. However, it was only today that I realized this helps to explain just why we've been struggling in Iraq. The neo-cons were not fans of GI Joe. They didn't and still don't believe that intelligence (either in its CIA or IQ forms) matters. Hell, they wouldn't have to be GI Joe fans, they could have read Sun Tzu the ancient Chinese general. "Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories." See there's that word "know" again.

So we find ourselves commiting too few troops to a country where we don't know the culture, didn't know the politics, and still don't know what we hope to achieve--apart from electoral success; sadly Republican electoral success not Iraqi.

But then I got to thinking, if knowing is half the battle, we're starting out in an awful hole, but we're tough we've got great weaponry. We can win a full battle despite that kind of deficit. Then I remembered the words of the great General Woody Allen (you remember Bananas, clearly he must know something) who once said that "80% of life is showing up." So that further taxes our plan, because not only do we not know what we're doing, we don't have enough people there to not know effectively. I'm not really good with fractions, in fact I'm as good with fractions as the neo-cons are with identifying the rival factions. If my math is right we should only be fighting 10% of the battle. (1/2 of 20%).

I like those odds. Now if only Roadblock could have come into the White House just as young George and Dick were about to send troops into battle, and explain in strangely compelling yet overly simplistic terms why that was invasion was a bad idea, and how to make diplomatic allies using things you can find around your house. Instead he was out somewhere making sure that little Timmy didn't open a Swiss army knife incorrectly. Fucking Roadblock.

Maybe the administration did watch GI Joe. In the episode where Scarlett gives the "Now you Know" tip she explains that "You can learn to water ski if you keep trying" And when he fails to water ski she tells him:"That's because you quit trying... You'll never win if you give in." See if you cut and run, you'll never be able to water ski. Or win the hearts and minds of a divided and complex nation. Same skill set really.

Man, GI Joe is filled with mixed lessons. While Scarlett says that you'll never win if you give in, Lady Jaye explains that: "There's nothing chicken about being smart. If you stop and think there's almost always a better way." Ahh, the revealed wisdom of GI Joe. See George and Dick, you wouldn't have been chicken, you'd have been smart. Oh, and avoided thousands of deaths, a billions of wasted money. That too.

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