Monday, November 27, 2006

The Macho Quotient in Bush's Iraq Policy

It's always interesting to look at political talk from a different angle, especially the emotional or psycho-babble one, and George Bush is a wonderful study subject for that enterprise. From the very beginning he was acting the godly macho man, one from pristine and unpolluted Texas, one not bothered with the sophisms of intellectual thought and all that crap. A man we all would like to have a beer with. A man who speaks plainly and acts decisively. A macho man straight from on old Western. A good man in the very odd sense which divides the definition of goodness from anything but superficial consumption patterns and body language.

So it is no wonder that the Bush administration played the various wars by using the black-hats-white-hats symbolism of the old Westerns, or that I always felt the administration saw the A-rabs as involved in a penis measuring competition, and that the only way to win that competition would be to kill more efficiently. And who can tell, perhaps that is an accurate appraisal of how the macho men in other governments think, too.

But right now the American administration looks powerless in Iraq and also in Afghanistan. Not just not-macho, but powerless. Like a catalyst which has exhausted itself by completing the task of getting some chemical process going, the American military cannot now stop the civil war in Iraq or the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. How to save face?

That is not the right question. But it is the question a macho-approach to international politics offers us, and the answers are either to nuke all "enemies" to Stone Age (and thus win the most-frightening-man award) or to distance oneself, to pretend that either the chaos was all intended or something to do with the way "they" over there are. Wild beasts, you know. Or that it was the effeminate liberal media that lost the war on us, because they didn't let us do enough nuking in the first place. Note that these answers are of no help to the Iraqis or Afghanis on the ground.

What we really need is a clean-up crew. But the rest of the world isn't exactly eager to step in and offer their people killed at that job.