Not a Federal Holiday

We weren’t watching the news when they dropped him. We were out getting our hands dirty.

We had a pipe to fix in the backyard. Should have taken care of it years ago, but there are all those pesky tactical considerations. Like geopolitics, remodeling is a complicated form of continual crisis management. Agenda items rise to the top of the list primarily by virtue of sudden emergency status.

We only planned to take down the fields in that operation, but mission creep happened at an explosive rate.

Mowing down the insurgent grasses resulted in lopping off the head of a hose bib, and it sprayed righteously all over the yard while we hustled to shut off its supply line, then started digging for it.

Finally, we located the head and cut it off, capping it securely to prevent further uprisings.

While we were plumbing in the dirt, SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden and dumped his body into the sea. We should be happy, maybe even dancing in the street like those cheerful folk in Times Square.

Pretty much anything that happens in Times Square is crass. Would you rather celebrate the new year with a few thousand strangers on streets patinated by a million ground-in condoms, or kiss your sweetie quietly at home? But we digress…

Make no mistake about it, I’m glad to see bin Laden gone. If any member of SEAL Team Six has to buy his own drink for the rest of his life, we’re doin’ it wrong. Let’s remember them forever, but I for one will start forgetting Osama bin… whoever… right about now.

No decent human being, Muslim or otherwise, can righteously mourn bin Laden’s passing. The man sat huddled in a compound, protected by the women he used as human shields and the fire-eyed defectives he inveigled into blowing themselves to Kingdom Gone, and directed sycophants and blood fetishists to kill everyone he had demonized under his personal vendetta-fueled jihad, particularly including my countrymen.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

We won. I want to be happy about that. I want to dance and sing, but when I woke up this morning we were still fighting three undeclared wars that are big enough to notice. Osama bin Laden’s death didn’t cure that, but is it too much to ask that Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead might catalyze some different thinking?

We sent heavy troop concentrations to Iraq and Afghanistan and a rain of heavy munitions to Libya before we decapitated al Qaeada… in Pakistan. If you build your own box, you should be able to think your way out of it. I’d like to think we could declare victory now, and pull out of what Pres. Washington presciently described as “foreign entanglements” driven by “overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.”

In other words, don’t keep feeding your guard dog until he grows so large that he tells you when and how much you may eat. Our army is unlikely to do that — they’re infinitely more professional than their Congressional and Presidential masters — but we’re literally more heavily invested in working out whom to kill next on the other side of the world than in our own peace and prosperity at home.

Probably won’t change soon. Our politicians are too busy braying at each other about who gets to paint this kill on his cockpit side to think about landing the plane in a meadow, decommissioning its guns and offering a barnstorming ride to the kids who come running. Maybe we should quit showing those kids how to march in snappy uniforms, and just teach them how to fly.

In other words, we might perhaps consider paying a lot less attention to rug merchants on the “Arab street” and much more attention to the vacant storefronts on our own boulevards. As Ferlinghetti put it some time ago in Junkman’s Obbligato:

Let us arise and go now
to the Isle of Manisfree.
Let loose the hogs of peace.
Hurry up please it’s time.

Sound foolish and feckless?  Well, then perhaps a riddle instead:

Q:  What do you call a Tomahawk cruise missile?

A:  I don’t know what you call it, but President Obama calls it a “peace prize.”

There’s a reason the words “peace and prosperity” go together. There is no single human undertaking that absorbs more resources than war. We had a manned space program once, but we’ve replaced it with the biggest of big-ticket items: fully-staffed foreign countries. Checked your 401(k) lately?

No one should forget what Osama bin Laden stood for:  a rigorously arbitrary code by which to judge others worthy of death. Per Mark Twain, “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” Let him be gone, and let us get on with things without a backward glance, remembering of him only that certain types of people are dangerous and bear watching.

It would raise my spirits if we could finally raise a generation that looks askance every, single time someone stands up shrieking out whom to kill next. We’d be a more effective monkey troupe if we didn’t keep letting the alarmist screaming in the trees distract us from all those juicy bananas.

George Washington was a very advanced monkey. So was Will Rogers, who observed, “Prominent men may run out of Decoration Day speeches, but the world never runs out of wars. People talk peace, but men give up their life’s work to war.”

And sometimes, all too often, their lives as well. There are all kinds of better ways to use good and brave people.

Sometimes, when your back is to the wall, you have to stand up and fight. When we do, we should absolutely give it everything we have — including a Congressional declaration of war — because modern war doesn’t just spend everything we have; it draws down everything our kids and grandkids will produce, as well.

Every war that isn’t worth that is a crime that we commit against ourselves.

That’s enough out of me. I need to go bury that pipe. Hopefully, it won’t break open again for many years. We can devote our resources to other things, and prosper under the sun.

I could dance and sing about that.


  1. Hellyeah. Hmmm. One thing we’ll have to do is use some of that military budget to incent the folks that make such things to make… other, more peaceful things instead of beating down congresscritters’ doors yowling that they’re losing their lucrative defense contracts.

    Of course, perhaps beating down congresscritters’ doors ourselves to that end might be effective… or at least lighting up their phones, something which Pretty Publisher says she’s already done… 🙂

  2. Christian says

    Thank you.

    I want to hear President Obama declare victory and order our troops home.

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