I wrote this poem in 2005, two years after U.S. President George (Deputy Dubya) Bush’s notorious “Mission Accomplished” proclamation. With the U.S. Military hopelessly mired in the twin quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan and desperately searching for any face-saving way out, I understood the predictable predicament, since I served eighteen months as a U.S. Navy “adviser” in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam, 1970-72), a.k.a., “Vietnamization,” or what the French called “Yellowing the Corpses.” So, for me, in 2005, I easily identified with the Bush/Cheney Buy Time Brigade pursuing “IrAfghanization,” or “Browning the Bodies.” After “taking the low ground,” so to speak, America’s military masterminds inevitably find themselves with only one “mission,” a political one: namely, the callous substitution of dead, maimed, and homeless native foreigners for American military casualties so as to deflate domestic opposition to the endless military adventurism while allowing for its perpetual continuation abroad. Not just madness with a method, but Method as Madness.
But from the point of view of those uniformed dupes ordered to pursue the mad method among the murdered and maimed, things all too soon and forever become real and ugly, rather than vicariously symbolic. Hence …
We serve as a symbol to shield those who screw us
The clueless, crass cretins who crap on our creed
We perform the foul deeds they can only do through us
Then lay ourselves down in the dark while we bleed
Through cheap Sunday slogans they sought to imbue us
With lust for limp legacy laughably lean
Yet the Pyrrhic parade only served to undo us
We die now for duty, not “honor” obscene
We carried out plans that the lunatics drew us
Their oil-spotted, fly paper, domino dream
Then we fought for the leftover bones that they threw us
While carpetbag contractors cleaned up the cream
We stood at attention so they could review us
Like bugs on display in a cage made of glass
We hurried, then waited, so they could subdue us
Yet somewhere inside something said: “kiss my ass.”
We did the George Custer scene Rumsfeld gave to us
We took ourselves targets to arrows and bows
While the brass punched their tickets, the Indians slew us
A “strategy” ranking with History’s lows
When veterans balked they contrived to pooh-pooh us
With sneers at our “syndrome” of Vietnam sick
When that didn’t work they set out to voodoo us
With sewer boat slanderers paid to be slick
The wad-shooting gambler comes once more to woo us
His PR team planning precise photo ops
For to sell his used war he’ll have need to construe us
As witless weak wallpaper campaign-ad props
The nuts and the dolts in their suits really blew us
They made our life’s meaning a dead metaphor
Still, no matter how Furies and Fate may pursue us
The Fig Leaf Contingent has been here before
The years pass in darkness and graveyards accrue us
As early returns on investments gone wrong
So the next time “supporters” of troops ballyhoo us
Remember to vomit in tune to this song.
“The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2005.
Michael Murry is a Vietnam Veteran, gargoyle sculptor, and poet. He occupies the Asian Desk for The Contrary Perspective.
6 thoughts on “Polemical Poetry X: Dead Metaphors”
Method is Madness wrapped in profit, power and even diversion and distraction from national security failure of 9/11 despite spending $trillions on national security and defense.
What predominates among our elected officials in these wars is fear and retaliation in the misguided concept of guilt by association for 9/11 now spawning more repercussions. There is the ever present notion in U.S. politics of the accusation: who lost Iraq, etc… Then there is the major factor of profits for oil and military arms that in our system predominates among elected officials. What is most galling is that George Washington’s brilliant “Farewell Address” has been discarded, for it is a national road map. I think the victory in WWII and Communist threat became pre-eminent to sustain the superpower mantle at all cost which has derailed the nation. As David Halberstam stated in his book with the sarcastic title “The Best and Brightest” in describing those who advocated for the Vietnam War: these men were “stupid.” If we are still led by the stupid (too simplistic but accurate) despite their college education and high credit ratings that explains America’s failure in domestic and foreign policies in some many fronts and areas. Institutional and ethical failure are commonly ignored, brushed under the rug until the rug is no longer walkable, even for an empire.
If we can speak of “the Best and the Brightest” who stupidly plunged the United States Southeast Asia into violence and ruin from the early 1960s to mid 1970s, then surely America now finds itself with “the Worst and the Dullest” who have done it all again in spite of the historical record that screamed at them: “Don’t Ever Do This Again!” What a crop of pompous, vainglorious dullards, both civilian and military. They have simply exhausted the vocabulary of the English language when it comes to describing stupidity.
It’s not metaphorical but just downright disgusting. I am referring to our subservient C.in C. bowing down once again to the military chieftains and their obsessive drive to send young men to death and war. A week ago Gen. Dempsey, in a congressional hearing stated that although the C. in C. ( Obama) had said ‘no American boots in ground.combat’ he (Dempsey) was telling congress that he felt we would have to send them on this fools mission. Harry Truman would have fired the rascal the next day for insubordination. In an article in TCP here I predicted that in a “few” weeks Obama would capitulate and make a statement reversing his own position.
Well folks, I have to admit I was wrong. It only took Obama one week to capitulate. Rather than fire Dempsey for insubordination he issued a statement that he supported Dempsey “if” ISIS got hold of nuclear weapons. He really pulled that one out of his butt. How in hell would ISIS need or get nuclear weapons? Even that great “decider”, Dubya Bush, couldn’t find nuclear weapons in Iraq. This statement, which all of the media, including the liberal-left media ignored, was his ignominious subservient response to the marching orders Dempsey gave him.
Folks. The Commander.in Chief. is not running the country, the military is. That means that under this president the money that should be going to education, jobs, healthcare, the weak and infirm will keep going to war making.
Remember LBJ’s comment in 1964: We’re not going to send American boys half way round the world to fight in place of Asian (South Vietnamese) boys who are unwilling. Fast forward to 1965 and LBJ is sending American boys half way round the world to fight the Vietnam War. Once those boots get on the ground, the military brass is always willing to commit them in an attempt to, what? Turn the tide? Win?
But you can’t win someone else’s civil war. Those American boots on the ground need to do an about face and come home.
Ah, yes, the election in 1964 and the infamous, about-face betrayal by President Lyndon Johnson of the landslide electoral mandate given him by the American people to stay out of war in Indochina. As Stanley Karnow wrote in Vietnam, a History: the First Complete Account of Vietnam at War (New York: Viking Press, 1983; Penguin Books, 1984):
“Johnson subscribed to the adage that “wars are too serious to be entrusted to generals.” He knew, as he once put it, that armed forces “need battles and bombs and bullets in order to be heroic,” and that they would drag him into a military conflict if they could. But he also knew that Pentagon lobbyists, among the best in the business, could persuade conservatives in Congress to sabotage his social legislation unless he satisfied their demands. As he girded himself for the 1964 presidential campaign, he was especially sensitive to the jingoists who might brand him “soft on communism” were he to back away from the challenge in Vietnam. So, politician that he was, he assuaged the brass and the braid with promises he may never have intended to keep. At a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, for example, he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “Just let me get elected, and you can have your war” [emphasis added].
There you have it, fellow Crimestoppers. The defining verdict on every American president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama and whatever comes next. If only we could inflate that infamous sentence in hot-air balloon letters fifty feet high and fly it permanently over Washington, D.C. How descriptive of the entire American government!
“Just let me get elected, and you can have your war.”
Bill.. In essence I agree with you that we can’t win someone else’ s war. I do not agree that this is a “civil” war in Iraq. It is much more complex as most things in the Middle East are. First of all it started when George Bush and his cronies decided to capture Iraqi oil for American companies and ended up destroying the social and political structures in that sovereign nation. In this venture we were also ‘carrying water’ for our two “friends” in the neighborhood, Sunni Saudi Arabia and Israel who wanted Saddam eliminated. Out of our stupidity we installed a Shia kleptomaniac, Maliki, as president who proceeded to do what kleptos do and as a result created chaos.
We next conspired to allow Saudi Arabia to foment and finance the uprising against the Alawite (Shia) Assad regime in Syria and to ultimately arm them and put arms in the Jihadi extremists in line with Saudi Wahabism’s wet dream of a Sunni Wahhabi extremist medieval state like Saudi Arabia who beheads people and doesn’t let women drive cars.
So now we have ISIS, a group led by the former Baathist officer corps that we disenfranchised when we took over Iraq. They are using Saudi money and our arms to prosecute not a civil war but a “Caliphate” or supra-national state of crazy Wahhabism led by the officer corps that Saddam kept Wahhabism under control with. Definitely not civil war but more emulating the American military aim of controlling as much of the world as they can get their hands on.
This time we let the ‘Golem out of the castle. Let the Saudis, for once, put him back in the castle.