War Theories & Wet Nurses


Bob Dylan

Three opinions.

1. I hate to tell you, but it's not 1624 anymore. In 1624, due to a wide variety of historical factors that are no longer present, rulers of a population were far more able to retain a chokehold on that population. Today's rulers do not have the command over their population that the Algerian pasha did. The Algerian pasha controlled the government, had formed an alliance with the pirates, and was holding Dutch prisoners in state prison. The dynamic between the terrorists/insurgents and national leaders is far more complex today (except in Pakistan, where Musharraf has allied with the radical Islamists): In Lebanon, Hezhbullah waged a fairly successul Jihad against Israel even as the the Lebanese PM pleaded for an end to the violence. Hamas has also used the state-within-a-state model. Finallly, all those Saudis on 9/11 did just fine without engineering a coup d'etat against the government.

Unlike in 1624, today we are fighting a war not against governments and not against rulers, but against INDIVIDUALS. This means that our main task is to win over INDIVIDUALS—not to enrage an entire population by carrying out a grotesque killing. That worked in 1624, but there were no suicide bombers in 1624. Wake up. You're not in Algeria anymore.

2. I disagree. We can only defeat Muslims if we fight them in a way they'll understand. It is true that we are fighting against individuals therefore we must fight in a way that eliminates enemy individuals while discouraging other individuals from fighting.

The population of Algiers were outraged and, more important, distraught to see their loved ones hanged. They also knew the same would happen to them if they continued piracy. Right now, an individual who does a suicide-bombing in Tel Aviv knows he will be lionized while his family is financially rewarded by Saudi foundations. If he knew that his family instead would all be executed in the most viscous manner and then cremated, he might think twice before blowing himself up.

One of Osama Bin Laden's sons just got married in London and lives free in the UK. An effective policy would be to round up all the family members of Al-Qaida, Hizbullah, and the Taliban leaders and start executing them until every terror organization is disbanded.

Ancient Carthage continually threatened Rome until the Romans finally slaughtered all the Carthaginians and resettled the city with loyal subjects. They also defeated the army of Boudaccia the same way. Of this latter conflict Tacitus wrote, "they made a desert and called it peace." Well, it was cruel to make that desert but it did bring peace.

3. The only thing I can think of at a time like this is a line from Bob Dylan. Well, what the hell, let's just go for the whole riffing song:

        They're selling postcards of the hanging
        They're painting the passports brown
        The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
        The circus is in town
        Here comes the blind commissioner
        They've got him in a trance
        One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
        The other is in his pants
        And the riot squad they're restless
        They need somewhere to go
        As Lady and I look out tonight
        From Desolation Row

        Cinderella, she seems so easy
        "It takes one to know one," she smiles
        And puts her hands in her back pockets
        Bette Davis style
        And in comes Romeo, he's moaning
        "You Belong to Me I Believe"
        And someone says," You're in the wrong place, my friend
        You better leave"
        And the only sound that's left
        After the ambulances go
        Is Cinderella sweeping up
        On Desolation Row

        Now the moon is almost hidden
        The stars are beginning to hide
        The fortunetelling lady
        Has even taken all her things inside
        All except for Cain and Abel
        And the hunchback of Notre Dame
        Everybody is making love
        Or else expecting rain
        And the Good Samaritan, he's dressing
        He's getting ready for the show
        He's going to the carnival tonight
        On Desolation Row

        Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
        For her I feel so afraid
        On her twenty-second birthday
        She already is an old maid

        To her, death is quite romantic
        She wears an iron vest
        Her profession's her religion
        Her sin is her lifelessness
        And though her eyes are fixed upon
        Noah's great rainbow
        She spends her time peeking
        Into Desolation Row

        Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
        With his memories in a trunk
        Passed this way an hour ago
        With his friend, a jealous monk
        He looked so immaculately frightful
        As he bummed a cigarette
        Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
        And reciting the alphabet
        Now you would not think to look at him
        But he was famous long ago
        For playing the electric violin
        On Desolation Row

        Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
        Inside of a leather cup
        But all his sexless patients
        They're trying to blow it up
        Now his nurse, some local loser
        She's in charge of the cyanide hole
        And she also keeps the cards that read
        "Have Mercy on His Soul"
        They all play on penny whistles
        You can hear them blow
        If you lean your head out far enough
        From Desolation Row

        Across the street they've nailed the curtains
        They're getting ready for the feast
        The Phantom of the Opera
        A perfect image of a priest
        They're spoonfeeding Casanova
        To get him to feel more assured
        Then they'll kill him with self-confidence
        After poisoning him with words

        And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls
        "Get Outa Here If You Don't Know
        Casanova is just being punished for going
        To Desolation Row"

        Now at midnight all the agents
        And the superhuman crew
        Come out and round up everyone
        That knows more than they do
        Then they bring them to the factory
        Where the heart-attack machine
        Is strapped across their shoulders
        And then the kerosene
        Is brought down from the castles
        By insurance men who go
        Check to see that nobody is escaping
        To Desolation Row

        Praise be to Nero's Neptune
        The Titanic sails at dawn
        And everybody's shouting
        "Which Side Are You On?"
        And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
        Fighting in the captain's tower
        While calypso singers laugh at them
        And fishermen hold flowers
        Between the windows of the sea
        Where lovely mermaids flow
        And nobody has to think too much
        About Desolation Row

        Yes, I received your letter yesterday
        (About the time the door knob broke)
        When you asked how I was doing
        Was that some kind of joke?
        All these people that you mention
        Yes, I know them, they're quite lame
        I had to rearrange their faces
        And give them all another name
        Right now I can't read too good
        Don't send me no more letters no
        Not unless you mail them
        From Desolation Row

As they say, all's fair in love and war. Oh, I forgot. They don't say that anymore in the declassé world of war theories and wet nurses...

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