Friday, December 22, 2006

Alice In The Wonderland of Political Debate

Alice would be me. This is what I don't get: The political debate has recently been of the Alice-in-Wonderland type, where a person, such as the Mad Hatter, runs by saying something bizarre and then you are supposed to discuss it as if the statement had not been bizarre in the first place. I have very little patience for this game, and perhaps that disqualifies me as a political blogger.

Take the whole recent discussion of the Iraq occupation and what should be done about it to "win". Almost all of the arguments are bizarre and almost none of them would actually lead to any improvement. Then there are several arguments of the sort which start with "if we had more military forces" and then go on positing all sorts of things which fall apart because we don't have more military forces. But if we had them then this and this and this could be done and then we would win. Except that we don't have them and nobody in their right mind would suggest a draft because that suggestion is equal to committing harakiri and so on. But what we need is more troops on the ground. Though only about one in ten of Americans thinks this would be a good idea in the first place.

And so it goes, in ever tightening circles of madness and delusion. Of course the real game is not about the Iraqis at all. The real game is about domestic politics on the one hand and about reputations of pundits on the other. It's an ersatz game. It's like politics with Altzheimers, but we are not supposed to say that. Those who say that are not interested in politics, the Game. Those people are not Doing Politics.

I see things rather differently, sadly. I see an inane occupation, entered into without careful thought or any real understanding of the country the U.S. occupied. I see a country, Iraq, which was an artificial creation in the first place, a country, which has several large tribal units fighting over the same resources: oil and very little access to water. A country which the U.S. essentially demolished, and a country with more people than it can support at a high level of well-being.

Then I see religion as a form of identity and a form of resistance and lots of people with very little education and little allegiance to the concept of the country of Iraq. The allegiance they have is to their tribes and their religious factions. And the neighboring countries support different religious factions for reasons of tradition and their own interests.

Now this is the setup for the real Game. What happens next is unclear, but further violence is inevitable. To limit that violence at all requires diplomacy, not more troops.

But what do I know.