Friday, October 17, 2014

Operation Desert Mirage, Et Cetera

After a number of military vets decried the Obama administration’s failure to name its campaign against Islamic State terrorists, the White House finally muted that criticism by providing one of the most anodyne designations imaginable for its martial effort, “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

One would have thought that the head of the self-designated party of nuance would at least have selected a title that wasn’t oxymoronic. As pundit Tucker Carlson noted, “resolve” is an act of the will and as such shouldn’t be confused with attributes that are inborn or “inherent.”     

In any case, based on an average of seven airstrikes-per-day, there obviously will be no “Desert Storm” under this Commander in Chief for whom “Delayed Restraint” may be an “Inherent” characteristic. One can compare that ratio with the average of 138 sorties per-day during NATO’s campaign against Serbia or the 800 daily airstrikes in the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein.   

Given these facts on the ground (or rather in the air), there are several more descriptive names that could have been attached to the campaign against Islamic State:

Operation Apparent Resolve would point to the gap between appearance and reality in this anti-terror exercise—a gap that also exists between Vice President Joe Biden’s bombastic “follow them to the gates of hell” rhetoric and the administration’s “let’s not call it a war” spin.

Operation Bootless Venture is a title that combines an air of fecklessness with the President’s up-front assurance to the terrorists that no U.S. “boots on the ground” will be employed in its “resolve” to a) “limit and contain” ISIL or b) “degrade and destroy” those same butchers.

Operation Pass the Buck would emphasize for midterm voters that such force as the administration eventually applies to these rapists and murderers of infidels is only the result of President George W. Bush’s invasion policy and the stubbornness of Iraq Prime Minister Maliki for not agreeing to a “Status of Forces Agreement”—this despite the fact that Obama himself claimed credit in 2012 for withdrawing all American troops from the country and leaving behind a stable democratic government.

Operation Apologize in Advance would reflect Mr. Obama’s view of American history as exhibited in the “America Culpa” Tour that he made at the beginning of his presidency. This operational title would let everyone know that the Commander in Chief’s Nobel Peace Prize heart isn’t in this endeavor that regretfully reinforces the leftist image of America as a bellicose power responsible for many or even most of the world’s problems.   

Operation Blame the Video would be nice if it hadn’t already been used to shift responsibility for Benghazi from an organized terrorist group to a pathetic immigrant in Southern California who spent months in a Texas prison for his much-publicized “crime” of defaming Muhammad in an Internet movie trailer.

Operation Leading from Behind would accurately convey the President’s foreign policy strategy and the expectation that someone else will provide ground troops to counter what his own Secretary of Defense described as an “imminent threat” to the country. 

Operation Phantom Coalition would also tout this Leading from Behind meme while taking note of the help we can expect from our international partners—including NATO- member Turkey.

Operation Exit Strategy would emphasize what’s most important to the Obama Administration in any conflict—getting out.  After all, as the President said, all wars must come to an end. And the quickest way to end any war is to exit the battlefield—consequences be damned.

Operation Desert Mirage employs alluring Middle Eastern imagery to summon up a vision of something that isn’t really there. The name also suggests the fanciful hope that the burgeoning Islamic State will disappear like a pathetic J.V. team when confronted with a determined non-American opponent—an army composed of recently-trained Syrian farmers and pharmacists.

Finally, there is the most provocative title for Obama’s containment campaign against ISIL, Operation Political Expediency—a designation that would reflect the administration’s need to do something dramatic in light of Americans’ outrage over the beheading of one of their countrymen.

I can hear Bob Beckel’s Democrat head exploding as I compose the preceding sentence —indignant that anyone would dare suggest his President would put military lives on the line for purely political purposes. As if that same President didn’t withdraw precipitously from Iraq for political reasons and thus set the stage for the nation’s collapse—and as if Mr. Obama didn’t announce a specific date for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan at virtually the same time he instituted a surge of troops in that supposedly crucial theater—and as if the Commander in Chief and his Secretary of State didn’t promote a palpably false “spontaneous demonstration” story about the terrorist attack in Benghazi to preserve the President’s campaign slogan about a dead bin-Laden and a decimated Al-Qaeda, creating for voters an Internet-video fiction that Hillary had  the audacity to repeat even at the memorial service for Benghazi victims. 

Sorry, Mr. Beckel, for office-holders of that ilk, Operation Political Expediency would have been a perfectly accurate designation—though not, of course, politically expedient to employ.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

"The Giver" -- A Philosophical Movie Review

If the sparse morning matinee audience at Murrieta’s California Oaks theater is any indication, Southlanders have little interest in or knowledge about “The Giver,” a philosophically-compelling film starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. That’s a shame given the flick’s dramatic broadside against the kind of ruthless conformity that permeates college campuses and today’s mainstream media.

Despite the lip-service those institutions regularly give to “diversity,” the truth is that both groups embrace an ideology of fierce intolerance according to which persons of every religion, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation are expected to accept (not just “tolerate”) the same egalitarian, climate-change, pro-choice views of limousine liberals in coastal California. The only “diversity” these politically correct folks embrace concerns things like dress, cuisine, and customs drained of substance. (Thus, Christmas becomes a secular holiday about a chubby guy at the North Pole, and Easter revolves around an egg-dispersing bunny-rabbit.)   

Based on a children’s book written by Lois Lowry and published in 1993, “The Giver” stands in the tradition of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” (1932) – a novel in which a few elites employ genetics, drugs, and conditioning to create a perfectly pacific society.  

The movie also represents a more compelling version of the managed utopia theme that Ed Harris and Jim Carrey brought to life in “The Truman Show.” Unlike the latter film, however, there isn’t a trace of humor in “The Giver.” Instead, human hate and violence are graphically, though briefly, portrayed alongside their much-valued counterparts: love, deep emotion, and cultural variety.   

Meryl Streep personifies and verbally defends the perfectly regulated and peaceful village in which everyone is equal—except for those “elders” who are, as Orwell put it, “more equal than others.”  In her ominous role Streep bears an eerie resemblance, both visually and philosophically, to Hillary Clinton—vastly more than the winsome Tea Leoni ever could as CBS’s “Madame Secretary.”

On the other side of the film’s dramatic divide stands a disheveled Jeff Bridges, “The Giver” who transmits to his young charge (Brendon Thwaites) the knowledge and experiences of otherwise unknown societies where deep emotions and free choices are cherished despite their painful and often destructive corollaries.

The comfortable conformity of Streep’s well-regulated society is depicted in various ways: painfully symmetrical community organization, unembellished architecture, uniform dress, and prescribed daily routines that extend even to meals and bedtimes.  Cinematically, black and white images are employed to reflect the lack of emotion and chromatic perception among these docile, healthy servants of the state.       

Inevitably, the society’s all-powerful rulers also take upon themselves life and death decisions—all for the good of the thoroughly-surveilled population, of course.  Accordingly, the words “die” and “kill” aren’t employed. Instead, the elderly and babes who don’t measure up to the rulers’ benevolent standards are “released”—the former after a community ceremony praising their contributions and implying they’ll soon be headed for a benign future, not a lethal needle. Babies, on the other hand, are similarly disposed of but in sterile medical facilities with no fanfare or compunction.

Though I would have preferred a climax that didn’t require so much suspension of disbelief with respect to minor details (Police-state enforcers, for example, aren’t usually so incompetent.) these distractions don’t obviate the value of this chilling portrait of a pleasant utopian society to which, unfortunately, this country has been moving—the price of which is our very humanity.

“The Giver” warns us to reject this all-too-appealing disaster.