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December 10, 2006 - December 3, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Flipping Syria

IF YOU CARED. Last night, I watched Brit Hume interview James Baker and Lee Hamilton about the findings of the Iraq study group. Hume rapidly closed in on the weirdest of the reported recommendations, that the situation calls for negotiation with Iran and Syria. Baker immediately conceded that Iran probably wouldn't respond favorably to U.S. overtures, although he insisted that Iran doesn't want chaos in Iraq -- even though chaos in Iraq is something they have been working tirelessly to produce. Huh? Then he proceeded to his trump card, presumably the idea that's generating so much excitement among Democrats and mass media types: the opportunity to "flip" Syria via clever diplomacy. He seems to think that if we offer Syria the Golan Heights, they'll be willing to stop assassinating Lebanese government officials, disband Hizbollah, and become an active partner in stabilizing a free and independent Iraq, not to mention help broker a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Brit lifted an eyebrow, a sure sign that he is flabbergasted and appalled by the preposterous nonsense he is hearing. After the interview footage had run, he reported from his anchor desk that as he was departing the interview, Baker lifted a finger and repeated, "Flip Syria. Flip Syria. That's the key."

I wasn't going to comment on this. There didn't seem to be much to say about it besides, "uh, okay. Whatever." Even the members of Brit's panel just laughed nervously and suggested that perhaps Baker should be designated the "flipper-in-chief" and sent off to Syria to perform this improbable miracle.

So I had miracles on my mind when I discovered this news story making the rounds of the Internet:

His sister in danger, 4-year-old plays hero

DURHAM - The robber was holding a gun to 5-year-old Mary Long's head when a 3-foot-tall Mighty Morphin Power Ranger leapt into the room.

"Get away from my family," 4-year-old Stevie Long shouted, punctuating his screams with swipes of his plastic sword and hearty "yah, yahs."

The robber and his accomplice, who was waiting outside the apartment Friday night, fled with credit cards, jewelry, cash and other items that Stevie's mother, Jennifer Long, dumped from her purse.

"I scared the bad guys away," Stevie said Tuesday evening at the apartment at 901 Chalk Level Road in north Durham.


Two men had approached Jennifer Long's boyfriend and his son Friday night as they stood outside the apartments she helps manage, according to a police report. The strangers asked for pot, and then a cigarette, and as the son went to get one, both men pulled guns, police said.

One stayed with the boyfriend as the other forced the son back into the apartment, police said. Inside were Jennifer Long, a cousin, Stevie, Mary and two other children, police said.

They were forced on the floor. The robber pointed the gun at Mary and a 1-year-old girl named Sierra, said Stevie's uncle, Bernie Evans, 33, who lives above the Longs.

Enter Stevie.

"During the robbery, a ... boy snuck into his bedroom, dressed himself in a Power Ranger costume and armed himself with a plastic sword," police said. "The child then exited his room and approached the armed suspect, in an attempt to protect his family."

Relatives said the robber abandoned plans to take Stevie's mother to an ATM to withdraw cash when he saw Stevie.

"It tripped him out, and that's when they moved on," said Evans, who did not witness the incident....

Evans said family members are struggling to help their children understand their ordeal. A counselor said Stevie needs to improve his distinction between fantasy and reality, said Heather Evans, Stevie's aunt.

"He fully believed he morphed," she said.

I was really struck by the phrase "distinction between fantasy and reality." In this case, it's apparently the adults who are having more trouble with the concept than little Stevie. This time, fantasy became reality: his unlikely gambit did secure its objective, after all. The gangsters left and no one got hurt.

God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. Perhaps there was a kind of divine logic at work in assembling a study group averaging about 80 years of age. Forget the fact that most of them have little or no experience in foreign policy. Forget the fact that most of them have been out of government longer than the lifespans of our troopers in Iraq. Forget the fact that committees notoriously produce decisions and recommendations hopelessly mangled by compromise and lowest-common-denominator groupthink. Instead, consider the possibility that octogenarians live on the cusp of renascent childhood, a vantage point from which some actually recover the confident innocence of childhood. Are we the potential beneficiaries of such a morphing process?

The Iraq Study Group

I think we should give it a chance. However insanely delusional they may seem to the rest of us, Baker and Hamilton may be onto something. Let's send them to Syria the way fortune sent Stevie into the living room waving his plastic sword. Let's all believe loudly and childishly in the inevitability of a miracle. Perhaps the Syrians will be taken so off-guard that Assad will suddenly forget he's a bigoted murderous tool of the Iranian Nazis and stand up for truth, justice, and the American Way. Stranger things have happened. Well, actually, they haven't, but overlook that. This is no time for half measures. The only alternative is to win the war we set out to win years ago. Right now, it's far less likely the American people have the will to do that than that they have the capacity to believe in magical salvation by the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

As a footnote, I'll also point out that there's an opportunity here to defray some of the huge expenses the war has run up over the years. Let's capitalize on the celebrity of the Baker-Hamilton commission and start selling some action figures.

Lee Hamilton and James Baker Action Figures (appropriate, ages 4 - 8)

At $20 to $30 a pop in the Christmas season, revenues could pile up pretty quickly.

Think about it. But not too hard. You might sprain something.

P.S. For the skeptics among you, here's a video of Baker and Hamilton discussing their recommendations with Brit Hume. OOPS! That wasn't the right file. I think it's this one (apologies to Wuzzadem the Great...)

Forgetting Pearl Harbor

PSAYINGS.5A.19. Someone emailed to take me to task for ignoring the anniversary of Pearl Harbor in today's post. The truth is, I think it's time we all forgot the events of December 7, 1941. There's something nervy, even presumptuous, about commemorating the catalyst for a great national feat of courage and resolve when we have so utterly forgotten the lesson represented by the initiating catastrophe. The people who rose up as one to defeat Nazism and Japanese militarism were not the people we are today, and if we would honor their memory, the best way is to avoid identifying ourselves with their sacrifices and their heroic deeds. Leave that to the U.S. military, who alone deserve this association with the past. Let their memorials be private and closed to our convenient eyesight.

Yes, we've had our own Pearl Harbor, but it's clear by now that it will take two or three of them to reinvigorate the American spine. The events of September 11, 2001, have been reduced in our common consciousness to a mere disastrous loss of life, as essentially causeless and irremediable as a tornado. We don't hold national days of remembrance for tornadoes or earthquakes or plane crashes. The grief belongs exclusively to those who have lost friends and family, and when those who remember the victims are gone too, the events are consigned to the pages of the almanac. In this context, there is no more 9/11, just as there is no more Pearl Harbor. If we as a people are unable to translate the loss into a determination to conquer the enemy who dared inflict the loss, remembrance is none of our business.

Consider the contrast. Television news is still willing to show us footage of the annihilating Japanese air attack on American ships in 1941, but they have conspired together to stop showing explicit footage of what happened in lower Manhattan five years ago. Why? Too traumatic to the family and friends of the victims. Which argues implicitly that all of us other Americans were not victims of 9/11. Remembrance is none of our business. It belongs purely to the isolated and arrogantly separatist American province called New York City.

Those other Americans tolerated 450,000 battlefield deaths to end the threat finally recognized on December 7, 1941. We have conclusively demonstrated that we can't tolerate one percent of that number to resist a threat that is openly bent not just on our conquest, but our annihilation as a culture.

Find something fun to do on 12/7 and 9/11 from here on in. Believe me, that's a far more appropriate response than any attempt to participate. The tears of the faithless can only soil the wounds we refuse to treat.

UPDATE. La Malkin wants you to remember Pearl Harbor. Decide for yourselves which of us is right.

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