Football Season Is Finally Over
Super Bowl XLI is a good way to kick-off Black History Month. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith. Living history.
Now that the Super Bowl is about to be history, it would be nice to see pop pigskin political philosophy go down the memory hole too.
Last week I touched on "the best defense is a good offense" analogy deceptively tossed around by war cheerleaders.
There's another less obvious but no less pernicious football analogy floating around the national water cooler like that Baby Ruth bar Bill Murray fished out of the pool in Caddyshack.
"Monday morning quarterback:" anyone who talks coulda, shoulda, woulda with 20/20 hindsight.
In football it refers to those who question the judgment of the head coach's game-time decisions the Monday after Sunday's game. And there's a subtext too: the players on the field do not know better than the geezer on the sideline wearing the headphones. Calling someone a "Monday morning quarterback" has also become a way for Bush hawks to dismiss those calling into question the neocons (non)strategy in Mess-o-potamia.
The nugget of truth in the slur is in pointing out the "sheeples" (sheep peoples) propensity to hop on the bandwagon of popular opinion. The charge is apropos for those who didn't bother to think about grand strategy or ask about a post-Saddam plan before the invasion, and now that the fickle political winds have changed they're "outraged."
But, it isn't Monday morning quarterbacking when the quarterback (and some observant fans) were questioning the game-plan on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the game.
When I was writing 10 years ago in this very column about how Gulf War I decimated Iraq's infrastructure and how the sanctions prevented Iraqis from making the necessary repairs in order to stave off easily treatable water-borne diseases from killing hundreds of thousands more children under the age of five, I was called an apologist for Saddam.
And seven years ago, before Bush even got in office, when I was writing about the fact that Iraq had been qualitatively disarmed and that the remnants of whatever degraded WMD material that may have been left didn't even constitute a regional threat, let alone a global one, I was called a dupe.
Even putting aside the WMD lies and distortions, what if the sanctions critics were heeded? There certainly would have been no expectation of being greeted as liberators. Because guerrilla insurgencies can't exist without popular support, an honest accounting of the sanctions' impact, coupled with the strategic goal of "winning hearts and minds," would have clearly shown the inevitability of a guerrilla insurgency without an immediate and massive humanitarian intervention, which is why international diplomacy (not military unilateralism) is key.
To remain critical of the President's handling of Iraq is not Monday morning quarterbacking. It's "Hey coach, take off the headphones so we can talk about strategy; not tactics, like I was saying before the game."
Of course, I wasn't the only fan shooting up red flares. There were (and are) many senior, mid- and low-level commanders who were critical behind the scenes, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas E. Ricks' exhaustively covers in Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq -- one of the most insightful books available on the subject.
Ricks details the utter lack of a post-invasion plan, the colossal error of disbanding the Iraqi army, the stunning incompetence of the CPA (Can't Produce Anything, is what military commanders called the Coalition Provisional Authority), and the ideological stupor of Bush administration officials who failed to heed the advice of extremely wise military leaders, all of which created and then fueled an all-out guerrilla war, on top of a civil war.
Now, these same folks are joining the Israeli war hawk chorus, banging the drums for war with Iran. Save us Generals! Behind closed doors, is there anyway you can convince the president to punt this time instead of going for the bomb?
As for the people, we better start demanding answers to questions like the kind being posed by Robert Naiman, national coordinator of Just Foreign Policy:
"There are four questions that should be put to the Bush administration about its claims that the Iranian government is behind attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. If this activity is so substantial, why can't you provide any direct evidence for this claim?"
"Given that the overwhelming majority of attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq are from Sunni insurgents who seem to hate the Shiite Iranian government and Iraqi Shiites at least as much as they hate the U.S. government, why would the Iranian government want to arm them?"
"Is it 'meddling' if the Iranian government gives advice to the Iraqi government, or tries to strengthen its diplomatic and economic ties with Iraq, and if so, shouldn't such 'meddling' be distinguished from giving assistance to attacks on U.S. troops?"
"And finally, do you believe that you have the authority to attack Iran without congressional authorization?"