Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Scared straight


The alliterative Peter Pace, still chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was in Djibouti yesterday, talking to the American troops stationed there. If you don’t know where Djibouti is, then they’re doing their job: “What you are doing here is making it so that the Horn of Africa does not appear on the front page of the Washington Post or your local newspapers.” I like how he makes our ignorance of a region the key index of how well things are going there.

He told the soldiers, “We are operating in Afghanistan and Iraq right now because the international community was not able to get those nations straight before it was necessary to use force.” A whole universe of reflexive, arrogant American imperialism is contained in that single word “straight.” He added that those American military personnel were helping the nations of the region conform to the standards of straightness we have laid down for them, to “develop the skills, the capacities, the kind of good governance that’s required so we don’t have to do here what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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