On Monday in London, appearing at a press conference with President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown endorsed Bush’s strategy for the ongoing occupation of Iraq. And Brown did so using one of Bush’s signature absurdities.
Here is Brown from the official transcript:
Can I just say that in Iraq there is a job to be done and we will continue to do the job, and there’s going to be no artificial timetable.
“Artificial timetable” is one of Bush’s favorite phrases when discussing the occupation. It appears more than 800 different times in the speeches, press releases and official statements posted on WhiteHouse.gov. Yet for all of that, I still have a hard time accepting that the president really means what he’s saying here, because what he’s saying here is insane.
To say that America’s strategy in Iraq must not be based on an “artificial timetable” means that America must not have a strategy in Iraq. It is to say that we’re just sitting back and watching events there unfold according to some natural timetable, some organic timetable unshaped by art or artifice. America is not acting according to a plan or a strategy but is, rather, a spectator to this serendipitous, windblown timetable. Que sera sera.
Military intervention is, by definition, artificial. It means you are relying on military force to force events to occur that would not simply occur naturally without such an emphatic application of artifice. If you’re not willing to force a particular outcome, then you shouldn’t be sending in forces. If you’re not willing to set “artificial timetables,” then you have no business sending in the Army.
To say, as Bush has repeatedly and Brown has now parroted, that “We will continue to do the job, and there’s going to be no artificial timetable” is the same as saying that there is no military solution — that the military is powerless to affect or effect the hoped for outcome. If the military is not capable of producing that outcome, then why keep them there? What “job” is there for them to continue to do?
How many years must the soldiers stay there? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.