September 13, 2007

There was enough brass in the room to forge a cannon. The generals were all there, the joint chiefs and the commanders from the front lines. They came along to tell the senators why America could not quit now.

“€œGeneral,”€ Senator Bullfrog Epidurus interjected in the midst of General Manassas T. Deeyemzee’s testimony, “€œhaven”€™t we heard all this before? Every year you or your predecessors come here and ask for more money to fight this war. And, every year, we give it to you. Now, you say you have a strategy that can win. But haven”€™t you said all the other strategies could win?”€

“€œYes, sir, I did, sir,”€ the general, his medals and skull shimmering under the television lights, answered. “€œAnd all of those strategies could have worked, should have worked, sir, if the military had not had its hands tied behind its back by politicians and the press. That’s one problem. The second, if I can prioritize this for you, sir…”€

“€œPlease do,”€ Senator Epidurus graciously offered. “€œWe could use some priorities around here.”€

“€œThe other problem is the deviousness of the enemy. His terroristic ways have the population terrorized, and it’s not easy for our young men, raised in good American homes with sound American values by pure American mothers, to deal with that, sir.”€

“€œAmen, General.”€ The other senators assented to Senator Epidurus’s Amen, and the general proceeded.

“€œSo, we”€™ve found a new way to, kind of, get around that problem, sir.”€

“€œAnd what exactly is that, General Deeyemzee?”€

“€œWe”€™re gonna put a buffer between our boys and the terrorists who are preventing democracy and freedom from taking root.”€

“€œA buffer?”€

“€œYes, sir, this is the plan I recommended to the Commander-in-Chief, the Bufferization Strategy. Wherever our troops go, there will be a buffer of local forces between them and the population. Locals in local uniforms standing between them and the terrorists. That way, the local forces, the LFs, can interface with folks who are so deranged and crazy “€“ and, I know this isn”€™t a popular word anymore, just plain “€˜evil”€™ “€“ that we want to protect our boys from that contamination.”€

“€œIf you will forgive me, General, that doesn”€™t sound like much of a strategy to me.”€

“€œAre you saying you don”€™t want to protect American lives in the theater of war, Senator?”€ General Deeyemzee had him there.

“€œLet’s go on, General. Where is the end of the tunnel?”€

“€œI trust, sir, you are not suggestion that, just as we are on the brink of victory, we just pack up and abandon Vietnam?”€

“€œIt is an option.”€

“€œWell, sir, I remember as a young lieutenant hearing another senator say something like that back in 1972. What would have happened if President Nixon had bowed to the anti-war pressure and just pulled out of Vietnam? Where would we be then?”€

“How many American dead were there when Nixon was thinking of pulling out, General? Wasn”€™t it 58,000? And, with the attrition rate been pretty constant for the last thirty years, we”€™ve lost just over 200,000 soldiers up to now. And I don”€™t know how many Vietnamese have died. Just about the whole country from the numbers I”€™ve seen. How many more? General, how many more?”€

“€œThat is not how the commanders at the front see it, Senator. Every single one of our soldiers is brave and honest and deserves a vote of confidence from his or her elected representatives. How can we look them in the eyes and tell “€™em they”€™re not doing a good job? That it’s all been for nothing?”€

“€œAll I can see is that you secure one province for a couple of months, then lose two more. The population flees. Suspected opponents of our presence there disappear. The government is so busy stealing money it doesn”€™t bother to govern. The people themselves are so divided they are killing one another. And you tell us we are winning. What are we winning, General? What have we achieved between 1963 and 2007 in Vietnam?”€

“€œWell, sir, so far, the country hasn”€™t gone Muslim.”€

The committee chairman, Senator Kissinger B. Brief, banged the gavel: “€œWe”€™ll move along now. General, I want to thank you for your time and effort in coming here to testify. This is a trying ordeal for you, and I want to thank you on behalf of the American people for all you are doing to keep the light of western fundamental values alive in that dark corner of the world. I don”€™t think you”€™ll have any problem getting the appropriation and an okay for another year. We don”€™t want to leave before we get the job done, do we?”€

Somewhere at the end of a burrow in southeast Asia, the wind blew out another candle.


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