Fires are fun to start. They’re almost impossible to put out. That’s the story, in a very sour nutshell, of American military force over the past 30 years. Take Iraq. How is it we’re still fighting a war we won nearly 20 years ago?
Last week, we were saved from striking yet another unquenchable spark by none other than Tucker Carlson, the mop-topped, bow-tie-wearing Fox News commentator. When it came to launching a retaliatory missile attack against Iran over America’s destroyed surveillance drone and the two Molotov oil tankers Iran blew up the week prior, it turns out Carlson was the only grown-up in the War Room thinking with his brain rather than his Johnson.
Has it really come to this?
In a word, yes.
The caveat, of course, is that it’s only a temporary reprieve.
When it comes to Tucker Carlson, I’ve never been a fan. I never bought his whole preppie-intellectual-with-a-switchblade act. It’s like he’s overcompensating for the fact he’s not the ever-smug Sean Hannity. Hannity, it should be noted — if only for purposes of establishing some tenuous local hook — got his start as a talk-show storm trooper right here in Santa Barbara, vaporizing the local airwaves with banter — no doubt insightful and informative — about lesbians and turkey basters via his perch at KCSB.
Last week, we learned the former Unreality TV star now occupying the Oval Office called back a “locked and loaded” attack order despite the overwhelming support of his advisors who urged him to blow shit up. Our game show host in chief, we have been told, rescinded that order when it became clear to him that as many as 150 Iranians could get blown to smithereens in the process. The new word used to describe the smithereening of unsuspecting human subjects is “kinetic.” Please note and incorporate into daily usage.
Carlson apparently got the memo and got very kinetic about it.
He weighed in against the missile strike on his show. He weighed in with private phone calls to El Prez, too. And he made a lot of sense. No Americans actually got killed by the destruction of the drone, he noted. To kill 150 Iranians might be “disproportionate,” suck the United States into another long, drawn-out war, and, most critically, destroy Trump’s chances at reelection. Iran, the squinty-eyed Carlson pointed out, is four times bigger than Iraq. Unlike Iraq, which is riven with multiple religious and ethnic factions, Iran is culturally unified. It has a much bigger army than Iraq ever did, is much better trained, and has been preparing for war. Besides, Tucker added, the Prez had campaigned as an isolationist.
Trump is apparently a big fan, regularly tweeting things he learned on Tucker’s show and exchanging bromance emails with Carlson. In one, Trump acknowledged Tucker had better hair, but bragged he still got “more pussy.”
It’s come to this?
A long time ago, as it turns out.
What else would you expect from a president now accused of sexual assault by as many women as there are Democrats running for their party’s nomination? Or whose first line of defense against the latest charge — of actual rape — was, “She’s not my type.” Or whose attorneys just argued that soap and toothbrushes are not, in fact, required in the new konzentration kinderkamps created to sequester immigrant children from their parents.
When it comes to totalitarian trash talking, North Korea pretty much owns the Gold Standard. When it comes to John Bolton, Trump’s twitchy-fingered, trigger-happy national security advisor for whom the solution to any problem is a well-placed bomb, the North Koreans have been predictably effusive. Atlantic Magazine reports that in 2003, when Bolton was advising another Republican president to drop a few airborne kinetic devices, the North Koreans referred to him, as “human scum,” “a bloodsucker,” or my favorite, “a beastly man bereft of reason.” Last week, Tucker Carlson teed off on Bolton with a jeremiad that left the North Koreans choking on his dust. He described Bolton as “a bureaucratic tapeworm,” adding, “Try as you might, you can’t expel him.” He elaborated that Bolton belongs to a tribe of neo-con pseudo-intellectuals who “live forever in the bowels of federal agencies” where they “cause pain and suffering” by advocating military actions against various Middle Eastern regimes, “but never suffering himself.”
For the kicker, Carlson charged that Bolton intentionally escalated tensions in hopes of creating a bona fide conflict that would serve no one but Bolton. But for Bolton, he said, that would be “like Christmas, Thanksgiving, [and] his birthday wrapped into one.”
Sean Hannity — Carlson’s den mate at Fox — predictably went the other way, predicting at the start of one show, “Trump will bomb the hell out of Iran.”
I’m not saying force is never justified, just that it would be nice to have a strategy, a plan, and some actual objectives before human life is rent asunder. It would be nicer still to have a few heads in the War Room cooler than John Bolton’s, or perhaps even to have an actual Secretary of Defense at the table. The stop-gap secretary we have now will be stepping down before confirmation hearings could be scheduled due to some denied-but-all-too-credible allegations that he’s a wife beater. Most conspicuously missing from the equation was the support of a single other country. Saudi Arabia doesn’t count; they chop up reporters they don’t like into ice cubes.
What do you say to a right-wing shock jock who just made a shoestring tackle on a man wearing loafers?
How ’bout “Thanks.”