Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Pickup Basketball" in Iraq

In today's Boston Globe, H.D.S. Greenaway offers an insightful analysis of US "policy" in Iraq, which he and the Washington Post's Dana Priest liken to a pickup basketball game in its fundamental haphazardness. Greenaway says,

"PERHAPS YOU know the one about the distraught man who goes to his rabbi and says life at home is unbearable. His wife is nagging, his children are screaming, his mother-in-law is constantly on his case, and the six dogs and 12 cats are always underfoot. The rabbi tells him to bring a goat into the house. The man reluctantly does as he's told, but two weeks later he's beside himself. The rabbi says: So take the goat out of the house. The man breathes a sigh of relief and soon tells the rabbi that everything is much better now.

That is about what Americans who want to see a comprehensible exit strategy from the Iraq quagmire heard from their president last week. The temporary surge that was mounted this year will be withdrawn next year, leaving troop levels about where they were in the first place. That should satisfy both the stay-the-coursers and the cut-and-runners, shouldn't it?

Early in the Iraq invasion The Washington Post's Dana Priest compared our Iraq strategy to a pickup basketball game. That haphazardness has never ceased. Re-Baathification follows de-Baathification. One day we fight Sunnis, next day the Shia. Benchmarks to which the Iraqi government will be held become mere suggestions. Neighborhoods are ethnically cleansed, and the resulting silence is taken for a drop in sectarian violence. It must be comforting for Iraqis to know that if they are shot in the back of the head it is sectarian violence, while being shot in the face is merely a crime."

I thought the decision to invade Iraq was unwise, if to some degree understandable. But the utter lack of planning for the aftermath, the fantasy-based hopes for cheering crowds greeting us with flowers, the callous refusal to take into account the inevitable fragmentation and chaos attending the breaking of a fake, multiethnic state--that is utterly indefensible and unforgivable.


Blogger cognitorex said...

Midddle East Sports are complicated

I've been trying to imagine the Iraq situation as a football game.
Start with Shia on one side of the ball and Sunnis on the other. The Yanks are the Officials.
Embedded in both side are criminal elements who from time to time shoot somebody in the huddle or kidnap a prominent son or daughter, demanding a first down as payment.
Also playing are a number of foreign Jihadists who plant explosives in the football just when one side appears poised to score. They, to date, have been so efficient that the goal line areas have all but disappeared.
The field is surrounded by US tanks because the stands empty in violent protest after close calls bring cries of favoritism. For cheers, “Satan’s Lackeys” and “Give us back our Oil” seem to be crowd favorites.
The Mullahs, of course, declared a fatwa regarding the use of pigskin which was particularly dicey but had the cheering side effect of seeing all participants line up on the same side for a mercurial moment.
The Mullahs also pointed out that the “Hail Mary” pass was forbidden eleven centuries prior to the invention of the game of football which speaks volumes about the locals’ concept of time.
The part of the game that is most dispiriting however are the cheerleaders. First of all there are one hundred and six different cheerleader contingents representing each of the religious, familial and tribal loyalties with feuding interests. Then there's the fact that these potentially pulchritudinous damsels are covered from head to toe which gives one the sense of how oxy-islamic the whole concept of organized competition here truly is.
The fact that the stands keep disintegrating, which requires additional kickbacks to Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater who somehow have all the concessions, doesn’t help in the slightest.
Well, to quote Rummy, “it's complicated.”
To quote John Madden, "Geez, these guys play rough."
(add your dream team comments here: reprint from Nov. 2006 post)

9:51 AM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

wow! that's some phenomenal socio-sporting analysis...well done!

10:54 AM  
Blogger Carol Gee said...

Cheer-leading for both the post and the comment. Good stuff!

7:49 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

But Bush had a definite plan. He planned to strut in his flight suit on a carrier.

5:21 PM  
Blogger moville said...

yes, and we have the footage with which to lampoon him for time and all eternity. thank goodness for videotape.

7:49 PM  

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