Sunday, November 26

On The Edge of a Cliff

Many years ago, I saw a heist film. I don't remember the title. I
don't remember many of the actors. I don't remember the plot. The
only detail I remember is the end: a bus with all the robbers in the
front, all the gold in the back, and the bus balanced on a cliff
ledge with the people in front being the only weight keeping the
whole thing from crashing over the side.

At this point, Michael Cane says something along the lines of "okay,
I've got a plan..." and the ending credits roll.

This is what I think of when I see our elder statesmen claim that
we're doing the right thing in Iraq and that we have a plan of some
sort to solve problems there, or that we're investigating options and
performing yet another study. Picture that same bus on the cliff,
but with a fire in the fuel line. Imagine that instead of gold in
back, its a group of young Iraqis who are trapped in rubble and
instead of robbers, its solders that have climbed in there to try to
help them.

But sure, "we'll succeed unless we quit."

When we invaded Iraq, I was teaching an interpersonal and small group
discussion class-- they wanted to have a discussion on the topic of
the invasion, and I facilitated it-- the results were a microcosm of
the population: in a group of nine, three were adamantly in support
of the invasion. Three were unambiguously opposed. The other three
weren't sure. In deeper discussion, it was clear: the three who were
unsure were opposed to it, but they felt an obligation to support
their country. This is similar to what happened nationally: right
before the invasion, support for it was weak. Immediately after, it
rose dramatically.

Later, I was telling friends that this would drop off: the 1/3rd or
so of the country which was willing to give tentative support for the
war, they didn't really like it, but they hoped it would work out
okay. This is cognitive dissonance at work: reality conflicts with
your beliefs, and you can't change reality, so you change your
beliefs. It's temporary.

This year, the support for the invasion of Iraq finally stretched the
limits of the cognitive dissonance-- it's become more and more clear
to everybody that there is nothing -working- about this invasion, no
nuggets of good they can cling to. Some still try, but I think more
and more, the remaining support for our continuing occupation is a
desperation: the bus teetering on the cliff and no one having a clue
as to how to escape it, but dead certain we can come up with some
sort of plan that will take care of everything.

I don't have anything funny, or clever, or pithy to say here.

A lot of us saw this coming years ago.

I -so- wish that we were wrong.

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