Friday, September 04, 2009

The Rocking Horse War

Earlier this week, the president appears to have been presented with a state of the war report from his new commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Not unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, Barack Obama seems to have taken to the notion of secrecy as the contents of the general's findings are largely classified, but this much is evident. McChrystal is poised, not surprisingly, to request an increase in troop presence, in Afghanistan, to "protect the people."

Given the corresponding escalation in the national deficit which, by some accounts, has reached $3 trillion spent so far on the war in Iraq, our latest military surge in Afghanistan may someday come to be known as the "rocking horse war," a foreign policy fueled by cowboys and continued by those who wish to return to the days of chronic, and conspicuous, consumption.

As in the late 1950's when, you may recall, many drug stores chains kept a mechanical horse in front of the storefront to entertain children while mothers went shopping. For a quarter, one could climb upon the horse, and blissfully ride. A quarter bought 5 minutes of uninterrupted galloping.

Often, while my mother was picking up a few things inside, I'd visit with the rocking horse, and will never forget the sensation of having the horse abruptly stop after, say, about five minutes whereupon it was expected that another quarter be deposited. Needless to say, it wasn't always easy to wrangle quarters out of my mother for a longer ride.

A pay as you go horseback ride is one thing, but it's a hell of a way to run a war, and the meter is definitely running on Afghanistan. We'd better climb off that horse before we lose not just the mortgage, but the house, too.