On War #197
December 18, 2006

Last Throw of the Dice

By William S. Lind

[The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Lind, writing in his personal capacity. They do not reflect the opinions or policy positions of the Free Congress Foundation, its officers, board or employees, or those of Kettle Creek Corporation.]

In a parallel universe, I received a wire last week from the Executive Mansion. Would I meet with First Citizen George X. Bush (Jefferson had won the 1796 election) to advise him on the war in Mesopotamia? Being a Small Endian, I was somewhat surprised to be asked to meet with a Big Endian First Citizen, but of course I telegraphed back that I would.

It was commonly thought that the war in Mesopotamia was not going well. We still had no effective answer to the Mesopotamians' war elephants, and our legionaries were getting squashed on too regular a basis. I had said publicly that we ought to give it up and go home, which made the invitation to the Executive Mansion all the more surprising. First Citizen Bush had to know what advice I would give him.

We met last Friday afternoon, in a gathering that included a few other opponents of the war besides myself. The First Citizen asked what we thought he should do in Mesopotamia, and we all told him we should get out as fast as we could, leaving lots of large caltrops on the roads behind us as we left. Then First Citizen Bush threw us a curveball.

"You've said just what I expected you to say," he told us. "Now I want to ask you a harder question. I'm not going to pull out of Mesopotamia, at least not yet. I have decided on one last throw of the dice, one last attempt to win this war. What should that be?"

We war critics were silent. One by one, the others shook their heads. There was nothing left to try.

Then I had an idea. "First Citizen, if that's your question, I will give you an answer. But remember, last throws save very few gamblers. The overwhelming probability is that this too will fail."

"I understand that's your judgment. I want to hear your proposal anyway," said the First Citizen.

"Very well," I replied. "Take all our troops, and I mean all, out of the vast, secure, star-bastioned fortresses we have built all over Mesopotamia and send them into the Mesopotamian capital, Babylon. Make them move into the city and live there. Each small unit is responsible for maintaining order on the street where it lives. If an elephant shows up, they have to deal with it. If we can successfully de-elephantize Babylon, we would show the rest of Mesopotamia that we can still win. That might at least buy us a graceful exit. Again, I don't think it will work, but if you are determined on a last throw, this would be my advice. Legionaries sitting in fortresses do nothing to help win the war."

"But I thought that famous military theorist you guys all like to quote -- what's his name? Oh yea, Vauban -- said building and holding fortresses was the way to win a war," replied the First Citizen.

Poor Vauban, I thought, so often quoted and so little read. He wrote more about taking fortresses than building and defending them. "First Citizen, this is not quite Vauban's kind of war," I responded. "Mesopotamia is not the Spanish Netherlands, and Vauban didn't face elephants. But getting our troops out of their fortresses and into Babylon is only half my proposal."

"OK, what's the rest of it?," asked First Citizen Bush.

"You have to make an alliance with Persia," I said.

"An alliance with Persia? Are you nuts? Those guys are Zoro-fascists! Just last week three good Americans were killed in Detroit when some Zoros jumped from their burning ziggurat and landed on them. Besides, don't you know they are trying to build flying chariots? Ally with them? Never!" The First Citizen was known for being firm in his likes and dislikes.

"I admit, First Citizen, that this new Zoroastrian practice of setting their ziggurats on fire and then jumping from them is a problem," I replied. "And the Persians may well get chariots to fly regardless of what we do. But the fact of the matter is, we cannot hope to control Mesopotamia without their help. To obtain that help, we must in turn offer them what they want. An alliance with the United States would help solve many of their problems. I think they might go for it."

The First Citizen pondered my advice. "Supposing I wanted to do that. How could I approach them?"

"You might send the Shah a small present," I suggested. "I'm thinking of the people who pushed you into this disastrous war. You know, the neo-claques."

"Why should I send the Shah the neo-claques?", the First Citizen asked.

"Not all of them," I replied. "Just their heads."

Again, the First Citizen seemed lost in thought. Might he actually take a new course? Then, he recovered. "No, dammit, I won't ally with the Persians. I won't even consider it. You Little Egg-heads think you know so much. But I know something you don't, and it proves I'm right to stay the course."

First Citizen Bush looked around the room with a cocky smile on his face. Relapsing into his native East Virginia grammar, he said, "I know smoking ziggurats is bad for your health!"

Merry Christmas!

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
717 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Direct line: 202-543-8796

The Free Congress Foundation is a 28-year-old Washington, DC-based conservative educational foundation (think tank) that teaches people how to be effective in the political process, advocates judicial reform, promotes cultural conservatism, and works against the government encroachment of individual liberties.

Archive of On War