Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Zbig, Z'bad and Z'ugly

Zbigniew Brzezinski - I love that name! It sounds like the name of a Polish General. And he was one, sort of.

Here is an interview with him in The American Prospect. During this little chat, he toys with a spiked club - a gift from a Ukrainian defense minister. He keeps a chessboard on display in his office. Does he play? Of course he plays - he even modestly allows that, while he's not improving, he's not some feeble wood-pusher either. He inveighs against the "Manicheanism" of the Bushies. "You're either with us or against us" is originally from Lenin, we learn. And the metaphor of our anarchic world order as devastated, violence-plagued urban core gets bandied about, like the lightest of shuttlecocks. Gotta anchor your messy analysis in some metaphor, after all. Better that it be one that seems like it can be addressed by rolling up your window when that slightly crack-deranged guy in his torn t-shirt and malodorous jeans approaches your windshield with a squee-gee.

And ... um ... well, consider the foregoing a sort of trailer for a movie that you now don't need to see. The capsule summary: Zbig doesn't like the Bushies - they've hurt our rep in what could still have been our world, sort of. We coulda been leaders! Instead of would-be dominators, suddenly out of their depth. Which is what we are.

Glad to hear you actually get it, Zbig, but unfortunately, the most vivid image I have of you is a newswire photo of you looking out over the Khyber pass with a monstrous pair of binocs. You were on an exciting expedition to an exotic country: Pakistan. And there, you exhorted a ragtag rabble who called themselves the Soldiers of God to confront Naked Soviet Agression.

We know of their deep belief in God, and we are confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours. You will go back to it one day, because your fight will prevail and you'll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and God is on your side.

My father won national titles in figure skating, but ended up not going to the Olympics because of some nastiness that started when Hitler invaded Poland. OK, fair enough. But Carter and Zbig called off American participation in the Olympics because the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan, hardly on the same scale as WW II. Did the world suspend the Olympics when the U.S. bombed Hanoi? Or when it bombed Cambodia?

You reap what you sow, Zbig. Be careful what you wish for. Karzai recently called for elections to be pushed back until more security for voters could be arranged. Washington nixed that. Washington calls the shots in Kabul, the only turf Karzai can claim to control, just as it was the only turf that the Soviet puppet government could claim to control, toward the end. The U.S. has at least learned the Soviet lesson in Afghanistan - don't mess with the locals. And so the Taliban roam, regaining momentum. And the warlords rule. And the veils are going back on and the madrassas convene classes. And like that time, oh how long ago it seems, when you aimed AK-47 gunsights through the Khyber pass into Afghanistan, 75% of the world's heroin supply once again flows in the opposite direction.

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