Sunday, March 04, 2007

After all, we’re in the business of dealing with the culture


Headline of the day, from the London Times: “Airstrikes ‘Could Provoke Iran.’” Ya think?

Okay, okay, seriously, a think tank argues that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facility won’t succeed, and that even if it did, Iran would still be able to cobble together a few nukes, like building a car from spare parts rather than building a car factory, and the attack would make it rather likely to do so. All of which is as self-evidently obvious as “air strikes could provoke Iran.”

There was an attack on an American convoy in Afghanistan with a vehicle packed with explosives, combined, the military says, with shooting from several directions in a “complex attack.” Alternately, the troops panicked after the explosion and started firing in several directions, then shot up every vehicle along the highway as they drove to safety, killing many civilians. Or alternately, did not panic, but deliberately shot up every civilian vehicle just to be on the safe side. Nor will they admit that all that shooting resulted in bullets actually hitting anyone. Says spokesmodel Major William Mitchell, “We certainly believe it’s possible that the incoming fire from the ambush was wholly or partly responsible for the civilian casualties.”

But really, what can we do if they won’t even cooperate in our war games? The US military plans to recreate Iraqi and Afghan villages for war games in, where else, Bavaria, and is trying to recruit Arab-speaking extras by placing ads implying they were being hiring for a film. Only four of the people who showed up didn’t leave upon being told the real purpose, which is for them to play natives 24 hours a day for three weeks while being constantly filmed. Said a spokesmodel for the US Army Joint Multinational Readiness Center, the amusingly named Reggie Bourgeois, “The more actual culture we can inject into the exercise the better it is for our soldiers. After all, we’re in the business of dealing with the culture.”

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