The Bull, not the Eagle, Is the New Symbol of U.S. Foreign Policy

Send in the bombers! A "strange love" indeed

Send in the bombers! A “strange love” indeed

W.J. Astore

One of the first acronyms I learned in the military was KISS.  No, not the heavy metal band.  No, nothing romantic either.  It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.”  The lesson: don’t think too much.  That leads to “analysis paralysis.” Be decisive!  Act, if need be, with extreme prejudice, a preference expressed vulgarly as “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.”

It’s a preference readily expressed by the current crop of political candidates for commander-in-chief.  With the possible exceptions of Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, all are slavering for a chance to bomb the bastards back to the Stone Age.  Like the young macho fools in the movie “Boiler Room,” they all want to wield their (fantasy) big swinging dicks.  They’re all budding Curtis LeMays, cigar-chomping bulls in a china shop.

Indeed, the bull rather than the eagle should be the symbol of American foreign policy.  Always charging off to foreign lands, always striving to gore anyone within reach of its horns, all in the name of being decisive, of showing that “America means business” (and not just on Wall Street).

To this season’s peculiar electoral crop of presidential candidates, it looks remarkably easy to win wars. Just bomb the bastards!  Teach them not to mess with Team USA.  Heck, I’m sure it looked easy to the political hacks of London in 1775 as they faced a perceived terrorist threat in a faraway land.  Just send some “special ops” Redcoats supported by Hessian mercenaries (boots on the ground!) to teach those New England terrorists a lesson. Use superior technology (in this case, gunboats) to bombard their rebellious cities (like Boston).  Never mind civilian casualties – a show of force will show the bastards who’s boss.

At least the British had enough sense to cut their losses after six years of bungling that ended at Yorktown (1781).  The U.S. today just keeps sending more troops and more money and more bombs overseas, each time expecting victory instead of the destruction and chaos that characterized previous misadventures (Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria …).

American foreign policy: It’s become like a bull in the ring, snorting, pawing at the ground, racing madly at red capes.  Each time it thinks it’s going to get that cape – until it ends up impaled on the toreador’s sword.

13 thoughts on “The Bull, not the Eagle, Is the New Symbol of U.S. Foreign Policy

  1. The problem with the analogy is that the bull is not in the bull ring of its own volition. The bull is the victim, not the aggressor.

    • A fair point. But much like the bull, the USA is the victim of its own aggressive tendencies; indeed, it often sees itself (whether accurately or not) as being pulled into combat against its own volition.

      • I, too, question the analogy, since the vain, gaudily-costumed toreador — along with a group of his accomplices — purposefully maddens the captive bull by stabbing him with spears until he can act only out of blind rage at his tormentors. All this while a crowd of paying customers cheer for the toreador and lust for the death of the dumb animal. The correct analogy with the militarized foreign policy of the United States would have the toreador — who started the whole bloody spectacle and thought to profit from it — impaled on the bull’s horns after tripping over his own cape. The drunken, blood-thirsty crowd (i.e., the American citizenry) goes on cheering, anyway. As long as someone, or something, dies in the most entertaining way imaginable.

        There. Fixed it.

    • What utter nonsense. The Bull is there because your politicians said “go there”. The US response to world issues seems to be “send in the military”. Each I’ll judged use of force sows the seeds of the next. It’s a downward spiral.

  2. Sixty years ago I was a student in Mexico City. During the Corrida, every weekend, we would see the great bullfighters of Spain and Mexico do their thing in the bull ring. Your seat was priced whether you sat on the “sol” (sun) side of the ring or the “sombre” shade side. The specticle started around noon. On both sides the members of the crowd carreid socks filled with fine, brightly colored powder that they would throw at others and cover them with the colored powder. It was a festive atmosphere.
    A festive crowd that generally were not interested in bloodletting of either animal or human but in the grace of the “picadores” and “toreodores” and the ability of the animal to escape execution. The final ‘coup de gras’ with a sword had to be done with respect and skill. That is not the analogy in the story above.
    Professor Astore’s bull is a symbol only of a beast ( our foreign policy) with no human sentiments and bears no relationship to the ritual of the corrida.

  3. Oh, Prof. Astore! You see what you got yourself into? You should’ve taken the whole holiday weekend off!! Let’s leave the bull alone and examine the eagle. The eagle has been a symbol of imperial power from the time of the Roman Empire. It trickled down thru the ages to Czarist Russia, with the two-headed version in the crest of the Romanoff Dynasty. I’ve also seen it used to represent monarchy in Poland and such-like. (Did Hitler or Mussolini incorporate it into official state emblems? I’m pretty sure the latter did.) By the way, many public (and doubtless private) schools in this country call their sports teams “the War Eagles.” How charming. But wait, there’s something different about our American Eagle: in one talon he holds a bundle of arrows, representing War. But what’s this gripped in the other talon?? A wreath or garland of Peace??? Our problem today is that this eagle, in the dementia of its old age, has dropped the garland of Peace somewhere and utterly forgotten about it. Then there’s the matter of that banner bearing the slogan “E. Pluribus Unum” that oft accompanies our favorite raptor. “From Many, One.” Strange that a certain Republican wannabe President of these United States has climbed to the top of the polls, and become simply inescapable in the media, by trashing that very notion, eh? Strange and repulsive.

    • That’s OK, Greg. I’m getting good comments and good discussion, so in that sense the analogy has worked for me (and the site).

      • The mind does work in funny ways (when it can be persuaded to work at all!). When describing what the “American eagle” holds in its talons I totally went blank on the supposed symbol for Peace! I had to describe it as some kind of “wreath or garland”! A half hour after posting that comment it hit me like a thunderbolt: it’s an olive branch, you knucklehead!! But again, I blame this nation’s “leadership” for letting the olive branch go missing so long as the cause of my malfunctioning neural synapses! Also, here’s a new interpretation (new to this immediate discussion; no claim of originality on my part) of our national emblem: the eagle offers other nations a choice between War and Peace. But there’s a catch. If you don’t accept “Peace” under the precise terms dictated by the US, then expect the arrows to be unleashed from that other talon. This includes what we might designate “pre-emptive Peace”–now THAT might actually be an original phrase!–change your regime or face devastation. This was the “peace” offered Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Dick Cheney’s swaggering march on Baghdad. The consequences of that marvel of military magnificence are still being felt to this day. And may be felt for decades to come, for all we know. Happy New Year, everybody!

      • An olive branch? What’s that, Greg? Small wonder you forgot when everyone’s talking about carpet bombing and making the sand glow.

  4. A typical Street Bullfight in the Azores, Portugal where I was Stationed Mid 70’s was more laid back not unlike the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. The Bulls were controlled with a “Rope” (not a bad idea for U.S. Foreign Policy) It was an exciting time in my life, and I wish I could go back to that slower pace of Life too, but I guess Cape Cod will have to do…These Street Bullfights went on typically in Summertime, and were a Festive time for us Servicemen as well as the local Gentry. If perchance You got Injured / Gored as Gov’t Property you were subject to summary judgement Article 15, non judicial punishment, or Court Martial for destruction of Gov’t property- yourself!.

  5. Pingback: W.J. Astore: The Bull, not the Eagle, Is the New Symbol of U.S. Foreign Policy | Vox Populi

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