Un-natural

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.

  • hapax

    Gadzooks, have we ALL had bad weeks? What with floods, pestilence, poverty … (and that’s just in my own backyard) I feel like I’ve been running solely on HH’s triple-octane fear/anger/despair fuel.
    I should have checked today’s xkcd sooner, though. I apologize sincerely to anyone I’ve treated like an a$$hole recently.
    The flight over the mountains looks nice, though…

  • Amaryllis

    HH: no offense was taken. I intended to post just a wry acknowledgment, but Typepad doesn’t do tone very well, and I got more serious, and personal, than I’d meant.
    Hope we all have better days tomorrow (next week, next month, whenever.)

  • Amaryllis

    HH: no offense was taken. I intended to post just a wry acknowledgment, but Typepad doesn’t do tone very well, and I got more serious, and personal, than I’d meant.
    Hope we all have better days tomorrow (next week, next month, whenever.)

  • Reynard

    Posted by Froborr: Um… have we ever actually withdrawn our troops from ANYWHERE that we invaded?
    To my knowledge, we don’t have any troops in Viet Nam. (We did at one point, but…well…we kind of overstayed our welcome, with embarrassing results…)
    Posted by Tonio: “And Donald Rumsfeld. And Dick Cheney.”
    If I carried a soundboard with me everywhere I went, every time someone mentioned their names I would play a doom sound effect. (The one used on a couple of “Ren and Stimpy” episodes would be great.) I would include Karl Rove in my list.

    I just whistle the “Imperial March” from the Star Wars saga.

  • inge

    Amaryllis: And truth? “What is truth?” I have no idea any more. All I hope for these days is a point somewhere between “truthiness” and “educated guess.”
    “Truth” is complicated. I try for “reality”, it’s easier defined. The rest is guesswork, hopefully educated.

  • inge

    Amaryllis: And truth? “What is truth?” I have no idea any more. All I hope for these days is a point somewhere between “truthiness” and “educated guess.”
    “Truth” is complicated. I try for “reality”, it’s easier defined. The rest is guesswork, hopefully educated.

  • Mike

    Gordo is obviously channelling Mr Bond:
    What does it matter to you?
    If you gotta job to do,
    You gotta do it well.
    You gotta give the other fella hell!
    When you were young
    and your heart was an open book,
    You used to say, ‘Live and let live.’
    But if this ever-changing world
    in which we live in
    Makes you give in and cry,
    Say, ‘Live and let die.’

  • Mike

    Gordo is obviously channelling Mr Bond:
    What does it matter to you?
    If you gotta job to do,
    You gotta do it well.
    You gotta give the other fella hell!
    When you were young
    and your heart was an open book,
    You used to say, ‘Live and let live.’
    But if this ever-changing world
    in which we live in
    Makes you give in and cry,
    Say, ‘Live and let die.’

  • Froborr

    “Truth” is complicated. I try for “reality”, it’s easier defined. The rest is guesswork, hopefully educated.
    This confuses me. Isn’t truth, by definition, identical to a description of reality?

  • Froborr

    “Truth” is complicated. I try for “reality”, it’s easier defined. The rest is guesswork, hopefully educated.
    This confuses me. Isn’t truth, by definition, identical to a description of reality?

  • Cowboy Diva

    I cannot remember the cite, and I will blow the quote anyway, but here goes. An American Indian storyteller started his stories this way, “I will tell you a true story. It may not have happened exactly this way, but it is true.”

  • Hawker Hurricane

    Frobor: There are things that are true, and then there’s “Truth”. Items that are true represent reality as best we can tell; items that are “Truth” are in the service of a higher calling. To use a Star Wars example (safer than others), Obi Wan tells Luke that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father… that’s a Truth statement: worded to give the facts ‘from a certain point of view’ but not all the facts. People who serve a “Truth” are quite willing to lie in that service.
    From Don Quitoxe
    Dr. Carrasco: These are facts!
    Don Quitoxe: Facts are the enemy of Truth!

  • Hawker Hurricane

    Frobor: There are things that are true, and then there’s “Truth”. Items that are true represent reality as best we can tell; items that are “Truth” are in the service of a higher calling. To use a Star Wars example (safer than others), Obi Wan tells Luke that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father… that’s a Truth statement: worded to give the facts ‘from a certain point of view’ but not all the facts. People who serve a “Truth” are quite willing to lie in that service.
    From Don Quitoxe
    Dr. Carrasco: These are facts!
    Don Quitoxe: Facts are the enemy of Truth!

  • Froborr

    So what you’re saying is that Truth consists of statements which aren’t true, but serve the purposes of the speaker?
    To me, that doesn’t sound much like truth at all. More like, well, lying.

  • Froborr

    So what you’re saying is that Truth consists of statements which aren’t true, but serve the purposes of the speaker?
    To me, that doesn’t sound much like truth at all. More like, well, lying.

  • Froborr

    Missed the thing about the Indian storyteller. I can kind of understand what you’re getting at there, with fiction. The story is “Truth” in the sense that, even though it’s fiction, it illustrates something which is difficult to describe accurately in words.
    I tend to call that “resonant” when talking about stories.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    Well, yes, it is lying. “Lying for a Higher Truth” they like to call it. Plato proposed such things in his writings. Writings that are very popular with certain political factions… “We must lie to them for thier own good (good of the country)” rapidly becomes “We must lie to maintain our own power base for the good of the country” which evolves to merely “We must lie to maintain our power”.
    I don’t trust people who don’t trust me with the facts (truth without the capitalization), if the facts don’t support thier cause then forget it.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    Well, yes, it is lying. “Lying for a Higher Truth” they like to call it. Plato proposed such things in his writings. Writings that are very popular with certain political factions… “We must lie to them for thier own good (good of the country)” rapidly becomes “We must lie to maintain our own power base for the good of the country” which evolves to merely “We must lie to maintain our power”.
    I don’t trust people who don’t trust me with the facts (truth without the capitalization), if the facts don’t support thier cause then forget it.


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