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CSotD: Humanity and Politics

Pat Byrnes (Cagle) joins the masses, though only to mock their haste to be included.

Constant Readers know I’ve been holding back a few days, waiting for things to settle in, which surely can’t mean for the whole thing to be over, just for it to take some kind of form. The Washington Post has an update page that you might want to bookmark to keep track of what’s going on, or, at least, what we know is going on.

That last is not cynicism, or, at least, not knee-jerk barroom cynicism but, rather, well-earned.

After the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, I spent a lot of time with a Cambodian refugee who had been very highly placed in their government, and, while the press wrote about the mysterious Khmer Rouge, he regaled me with stories of how, when Khieu Samphan was studying in Paris, Sihanouk would periodically read something he’d written and pull his scholarships. My friend would have to intervene and get things back on the rails.

But, beyond that, he told me of the merciless slaughter happening, not only in the general sense but with specific stories about specific people murdered by the Khmer Rouge. He was getting constant updates from the refugee camps in Thailand, and I was in the room when he was on the phone with Undersecretary of State Philip Habib, so “Nobody knows what’s going on” was bullshit.

The capper, for today’s purposes, is that, a decade later, I laid it out in a letter to Ed Bradley, who had covered Southeast Asia, and whose response at least assured me that my cynicism was well-placed.

And he was right: Politics and humanity don’t always mix.

 

Though sometimes humanity finds a way to assert itself, and Andy Davey marks a story covered here, about Afghan women trying to toss their babies over the wire at the Kabul Airport to UK troops.

That Washington Post update page also reports that French and British forces are going into Kabul on rescue missions, and that, as of this morning, 18,000 people have been evacuated over five days.

No, it’s not enough. Not nearly enough.

 

But, as the story of the starfish puts it, it matters to this one.

And, if you want to be relentlessly cynical, yes, that photo is from the US military, but maybe it’s not just politics. Maybe it’s humanity.

That’s somebody’s jacket.

 

Which brings us to Steve Breen (Creators)‘s cartoon, which I honestly don’t understand.

I’m not arguing with him, I just don’t get his point, unless he’s simply expressing sympathy for those who have been there and have a stronger regret for the fate of the Afghan people under the Taliban.

It’s more than sad, because, while the majority of veterans favor withdrawal — as expressed in polls and also in interviews — I’m sure they will now be dragged out as political props, just as their counterparts from Vietnam were stereotyped and politicized and lied about.

BTW, the median age in the US is 38. Our military involvement in Vietnam ended 48 years ago. Only about a third of Americans are over 50, and my guess is that those who were two years old back then don’t remember a lot from those days.

The Super Bowl is not the French Open, nor is the World Cup the World Series, though they’re all sporting events.

And Afghanistan is not Vietnam.

Despite opinions to the contrary.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Dana Summers – Tribune)

 

(Mike Thompson – USA Today)

Here’s an interesting contrast, using Afghan rugs as the metaphor, since Summers blames a scowling Biden for betraying the Afghan people while Thompson shows him more happily upending the people who got us into this mess.

They’re both right, though I don’t know that Summers’ depiction of him doing it in anger is entirely fair — a “Whoops!” expression would fit in more with my take on things.

Meanwhile, I wish Thompson’s piece anticipated a follow-through in separating us from moneyed interests, but I’m not that optimistic. Or naive.

 

Summers is no fan of Biden, so, while we can disagree over whether it was intentional or accidental, it’s fair commentary.

By contrast, Bob Gorrell (Creator)‘s opinion smacks more of personal insult. It’s not Gorrell’s first use of the white flag and he often puts dumb-ass grins on the faces of people he doesn’t like.

IMHO, his hostility overwhelms his analysis. It’s not helpful.

 

And Darrin Bell (KFS) builds on Thompson’s point, though it’s awfully hard to argue that, if we hadn’t spent it on the war, we’d have channeled it into sensible social programs and necessary national causes.

I seem to recall some legerdemain when we launched our twin adventures that had to do with going “off budget” and a bit of “nothing up my sleeve” accounting to justify the expense. It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

Bottom line, however, is that we keep putting people in office who see war as necessary and feeding our own children as socialism.

 

Case in point: Ward Sutton reminds us of the tangled mess that began with Dick Cheney doing a search for a vice-president and discovering it was himself, and things went downhill from there.

The Halliburton shirt is a nice reminder that a lot of people made some dubious profits over the whole thing, and whatever else we salvage from this tragic mistake, ethical reform ought to be high on the to-do list.

But it won’t be.

 

There’s more to be said, and the conversation will continue, but David Fitzsimmons offers a solid multi-panel wrap-up. That third panel is a little harsh: “Betrayal” suggests intent where I think the operative word is in the sixth panel: “Chaos.”

But that’s nit-picking. Fitzsimmons sums it up well, which isn’t so much a call for us to do better the next time but to recognize that there simply oughtn’t to be a next time.

 

Finally today, Christopher Weyant improves on all the burkah imagery by pointing out the systemic nature of the unfolding tragedy, and the folly of trying to hold a particular administration, or a particular politician, responsible.

Though, as the Pointed Man told Oblio …

 

Community Comments

#1 Mary Ella
August/20/2021
@ 7:29 am

Of course neither Summers or Gorrell or the like said boo when TFG, who “knew more than the generals”, of course, because he said so, announced the pullout during his administration but conveniently was out off office before all the stuff that looks bad on TV happened.

All these supposedly brilliant, iconoclastic minds treat everything like college football—whatever my guy does is fine, but it’s bad when your guy does it. When does it freaking stop?

#2 Boise Ed
August/21/2021
@ 6:09 pm

I couldn’t say it better than Mary Ella did.

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