There Will Be Blood

Jonah Goldberg’s The Goldberg File, has some wise words on the Libya conflict that I wholeheartedly share.  First, with every conflict, some patience is in order in the early days:

[As he wrote in the early days of the Afghanistan War, some patience is generally in order.]

Until a house is completed, it’s useless as a house. The rain falls through the top, the stove doesn’t work, the toilets don’t flush. As a house, an unfinished house is a total disaster. This is especially so very early in the construction process, when it’s often just a giant hole in the ground with a bunch of workmen scratching their exposed posteriors at $35 an hour. In a certain sense, an unfinished house is worse than no house at all: It’s more expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. . . .  [And] Wars are a colossal fog of whirling confusions and unknown banshees, consuming time, money, emotions, geography, and of course lives — until someone wins.

Nicely put. 

When thinking about the major media’s war reporting, I often think of how the D-day invasion of Europe would have been reported today.  The NYT, NPR, WaPo, MSNBC, et al. would have reported that it was an unmitigated disaster, with gliders and paratroopers crashing into hedgerows miles off target, landing craft hitting the wrong beaches, and thousands dying under withering fire.  All of that is true, but misleading.  D-Day was an amazing triumph under impossibly complex and unpredictable circumstances that turned the war. 

The problem with war is that the other guy has a rather considerable interest in not being killed.  That makes things complicated and unpredictable, and you can’t expect things to be quick, easy, or tidy.

I also agree with this, however:

The problem is that what started as a very strange war [in Libya] — but a war nonetheless — is threatening to become something very different altogether. The New York Times reports that NATO has told the rebels that if they kill civilians then NATO will bomb them, too.

* * *

My larger point, again, is that this is very rapidly moving into uncharted waters. The United States, even under the supervision of a committee (a committee we are, oddly enough, chairman of), even while dotting all of the U.N.’s eyes and crossing all of its tees, and even with only a few CIA operators with alternative footwear (no boots on the ground!), can still mop the floor with Qaddafi’s goons — eventually. But that’s contingent on this actually being, you know, a war. If it becomes something more akin to refereeing a dog fight, I have no idea how it will turn out.

I do.  As the name of the blog suggests, I know a bit about dogs.  And I have had the unfortunate experience of refereeing a few dog fights.

What happens is, the referee gets bit.  If you reach in to try to separate the dogs, one of them will bite you. 

Your own will do it by accident; the other guy’s may do it on purpose.  But the dogs are locked in a whirling dervish of a struggle and suddenly this hand appears and grabs one of them.  So it gets bit. 

And in Libya, as near as I (or apparently the President and the Secretary of State) can tell, neither one of the dogs in the fight is ours.  That greatly increases the odds of our losing some blood.

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Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 10:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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