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The Iliad & the Odyssey--an interesting parallel

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This is a very interesting editorial. It's not a Bush-bashing piece, it's fairly expressed as an observation and caution.....

Swift-Footed W.
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: October 22, 2003

On the eve of our invasion of Iraq, I went to ancient Troy in Turkey. It's a haunting spot, quiet and deserted, though if you scrunch up your eyes you may still catch a glimpse of Helen on the walls. Those walls include a gate that shows signs of having been widened — or so my guide claimed, probably fancifully — as if to accommodate a giant wooden horse.

At the time, I wrote about the lessons of the Trojan War for Iraq, but now I find my mind wandering back to Troy again. Homer seems even more relevant today: In "The Iliad," he describes how the Greeks are sapped by a prolonged, dreary, unnecessary conflict that does not go nearly as well as it was supposed to, partly because their leader antagonizes his allies. And in "The Odyssey," we have a king who inherited his throne and whose arrogance and impulsiveness cost the lives of his soldiers.

"The Iliad" is the greatest war story ever told, but it's not fundamentally about war — after all, it never mentions the Trojan horse and covers only a few weeks in a war that lasted 10 years. No, "The Iliad" is ultimately not about war but rather about how great men confront tragedy, learn moderation and become wise.

In case "The Iliad" isn't lying around the Oval Office, let me recap for our warriors in Washington. Achilles is both the mightiest warrior and a petulant, self-righteous, arrogant figure. A unilateralist, he refuses to consult with allies; he dismisses intelligence about his own vulnerability; he never reads the newspapers.

So the Greeks are nearly defeated, and while Achilles sulks in his tent, his dearest friend, Patroclus, is killed. Then the impulsive Achilles careers into action and overdoes it in the other direction, desecrating Hector's body, but in the end he returns to his tent, calms down and shows a new sense of his own limits, a new compassion, a new moderation and a new wisdom.

That is a constant theme in the classics: ancient heroes like Achilles and Odysseus do not avoid mistakes, but they learn from them. Through their errors, they come to understand moral nuance as well as moral clarity, and to appreciate moderation. Indeed, the subtitle for "The Iliad" could be "Achilles Grows Up."

Unfortunately, until recently this administration hasn't shown much signs of growing. Yet over the last few weeks, there have been a few hints of a rosy-fingered dawn, signs that President Bush may be learning from his mistakes and moderating his impulsiveness. I'm hoping that's the case, and it's reassuring to remember what happened in the last electoral cycle: Mr. Bush turned his campaign upside-down after his loss to John McCain in New Hampshire in 2000.

It helps that Mr. Bush has made plenty of mistakes to learn from. Just look around the globe:

Afghanistan was a brilliantly executed war, but the peace was flubbed because of a failure to provide security outside Kabul. Iraq was a well-planned war and an unplanned peace. A refusal to negotiate with North Korea led it to ramp up its nuclear production lines. And haughtiness (the same problem Achilles had) has nurtured more anti-Americanism than Al Qaeda ever did.

The clearest sign of a new willingness to learn from error is Mr. Bush's pirouette on North Korea. Mr. Bush has now abandoned his position that we will not negotiate with North Korea until it gives up its nuclear programs. While it may be too late to reach a deal, he is taking the first steps toward constructive diplomacy by discussing a security guarantee for North Korea.

Then we have the White House's seizing control over Iraq policy from the Pentagon ideologues. That's potentially a very important shift because it empowers pragmatists like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, who, unlike the civilian leaders at the Pentagon, don't filter all information through ideological sieves.

To pursue the classical parallel, Don Rumsfeld can be compared to Ajax, the Greek warrior who had great force projection — but was so deluded that he laid waste to what he perceived to be his enemies and turned out to be a herd of cattle. (But a prominent classics scholar called the comparison daft, noting that Ajax "has such nobility of spirit.")

Homer's most powerful lessons include the need to restrain hubris, to cooperate with allies, to engage the real world rather than black-and-white caricatures. If Achilles and Odysseus can learn those lessons, maybe there's hope for Mr. Rumsfeld or even the mighty Mr. Bush.
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Paladin said:
To pursue the classical parallel, Don Rumsfeld can be compared to Ajax, the Greek warrior who had great force projection — but was so deluded that he laid waste to what he perceived to be his enemies and turned out to be a herd of cattle. (But a prominent classics scholar called the comparison daft, noting that Ajax "has such nobility of spirit.")
Well.... Ajax has apparrently laid waste to his own credibility today. An internal memo from Rumsfeld was leaked in which he stated that the "war on terror" was basically making little or no progress in getting Al Qaeda and it's people. This fell in stark contrast to the congratulatory tour he took a couple of weeks ago during which he made numerous speeches before the troops assuring them that we are winning the war on terror. To say it makes his credibility look suspect is an understatement of Olympian proportions.


"The United States faces "a long, hard slog" in the fight against Al Qaeda, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a pointed memo raising questions about the future of the war on terrorism."



Republican congressmen scrambled to get in front of microphones today to "clarify" that the Rumsfeld memo's tone was to inspire his people to try harder or something like that.



"Rumsfeld's spokesman, Larry Di Rita, told reporters the memo was meant to raise "big questions that deserve big thinking" and preserve a sense of urgency about where the war is heading."



If Bush is to emulate the path to wisdon described by Homer, in which the heroes learned from their mistakes, it's about time he followed the advice of numerous analysts from both parties and wrapped about six rolls of duct tape around Rumsfeld's mouth. Bush needs to project the image that he leads that cast of clowns and that they understand the direction that the "plan" is supposed to be going.... and they are pulling in that direction. Loose cannons make their leaders look like idiots.. or in this case, even bigger idiots.



http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100879,00.html
 

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YUP

DHMeieio said:
Well, I see "Have gun, will babble" and Baby Paladin B.H. are back for more trolling. No, that article didn't bash Bush or Rumsfeld at all. It was every bit as fair and balanced as most of your posts.
Agreed DHM. Perhaps the trolls should consider my favorite line from the original text..."Why continue your story? We've heard it before and no one cares for a twice told tale." ;)
 

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Here's the memo in Question:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100917,00.html


TO: Gen. Dick Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Pete Pace, Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere - one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be: We are having mixed results with Al Qaeda, although we have put considerable pressure on them - nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis. USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban - Omar, Hekmatyar, etc. With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started. Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the U.S.? Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror? Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental?

My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us? Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?

The U.S. is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions. Do we need a new organization? How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools? Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?



It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog. Does CIA need a new finding? Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course? What else should we be considering?

Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday. Thanks.
 

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Re: YUP

potthawg said:
Agreed DHM. Perhaps the trolls should consider my favorite line from the original text..."Why continue your story? We've heard it before and no one cares for a twice told tale." ;)
OK, here is a newly told tale even a moron could comprehend:



"Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror."

Donald Rumsfeld




The man who is busy telling everybody how we are winning the war on terror has today privately admitted that we heve NO WAY to know if we are winning or losing... which means he has been lying through his teeth.

To anyone who is not moronically blinded and mentally dependent on the fantasy that what they are being fed by the present administration is true, such a statement would be of interest. Clearly, it is of no interest to you.... but you are not the only person who reads on the internet.
 

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Re: Re: YUP

bountyhunter said:
OK, here is a newly told tale even a moron could comprehend:

"Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror."

Donald Rumsfeld
bountyhunter said:
The man who is busy telling everybody how we are winning the war on terror has today privately admitted that we heve NO WAY to know if we are winning or losing... which means he has been lying through his teeth.
No what it means is there is no way to measure or quantify our success in concrete terms. There can be no doubt that we have moved the fight into their backyard and killed alot of terrorists and disrupted their organizations and operations.

Maybe those facts alone are enough for him to feel we have been winning thus far.

So what if he has been talking more confidently about the war in public than he is in private brainstorming sessions?

Thats what you do when you are fighting a war. Put a good face on it in public and privately ask the hard questions required to come up with the strategies necessary for victory.

Here is another quote "even a moron could comprehend":

"My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?"

Therefore since you have apparently accepted everything in his report at face value do you favor bolder action? Do you now accept that our moves thus far have been sensible and logical? No. You accept only the parts that allow you to continue to harp against the war.
 

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Paladin said:
This is a very interesting editorial. It's not a Bush-bashing piece, it's fairly expressed as an observation and caution...
The fact that you actually believe that is a sign of how skewed your perception of reality is.

In order for that column to be valid you have to believe the following things:

1. You have to believe this conflict is unnecessary.
2. You have to believe that we have somehow bungled the situation in Afghanistan. That it was somehow in our grasp to magically (and almost instantly in the time scale of such events historically) fix a country that has recently and traditionally been nothing but a loose confederation of tribes and warlords.
3. That we are losing the War in Iraq. That a counterinsurgency against terrorists and radicals from all the surrounding nations should have been somehow prevented.
AND
4. That the situation is North Korea is George Bushs fault. That the fact that they have nuclear reactors has nothing to do with the softball enabling that took place under the Clinton administration. Nothing to do with us giving them assistance in constructing nuclear plants in exchange for a promise that they wouldnt be used to create weapons by one of the most brutal sadistic Stalinist communist dictatorships left in the world. And then on top of that that our paying them in the form of food aid and fuel oil didnt demonstrate the extreme value nuclear weapons would be to their regime in extorting more aid.

I believe none of those things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
DH--Looks like YOU'VE become the troll here, from your past definitions. Nothing but name-calling and lining up excuses for Rumsfeld. Do you or Mus have ANY ability to criticize Rumsfeld or the Bush Administration's performance in Iraq or Afghanistan at all?? Even when he parades around claiming success of the war on terrorism then a memo (not having been created by either Democrats, Socialists, Liberals, taxidermists, orthodontists, Buddhist monks or Shriners--just Rummie) turns up where he says the opposite. When it's as plain as the nose on your face....can't you even admit ANY criticsim of the situation?

Now Bush has painted himself in a corner again. His macho posturing prevented us from success in going back to the international community to seek assistance after the war. Dismissing Rumsfeld, which he should do right away, would reflect poorly on his anti-terror policies. When every other word out of your mouth...and every answer to every challange is "terror" or "terrorism", then you live and die on one issue. Having this arrogant, myopic emperor with no clothes leading the Defense Department is not what we need right now. Time for Rummie to go....but Bush has handcuffed himself again. What statesmanship.

Now any response you can offer without trolling, boys?
 

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Paladin said:
Even when he parades around claiming success of the war on terrorism then a memo (not having been created by either Democrats, Socialists, Liberals, taxidermists, orthodontists, Buddhist monks or Shriners--just Rummie) turns up where he says the opposite.
No he didnt. He said there wasnt any way to measure our results so far. Theres a big difference between that and saying we are losing. You understand the definition of opposite? You understand the definition of metric as he used it? If so you are deliberately lying in making this statement.

PS Go take an English 101 Class your constant use of symbolic cliches is getting old. Im serious and I mean that as constructive criticism. It makes your political rants read like they were written in a high school creative writing class before the teacher got to it with a red pen. Either that or Soviet propaganda.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When you have nothing to say, you rant and troll....how ironic, Mus. I'm going to save these posts from you as perfect examples. How sad for you....
 

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Paladin said:
When you have nothing to say, you rant and troll....how ironic, Mus. I'm going to save these posts from you as perfect examples. How sad for you....
Yes, you do rant and troll.

I pointed out your lie (either that or your total ignorance of the definition of the words "opposite" and "metric" in the context in which they were used) and your constant use of tired cliches, and you cant deal with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You're starting to spit and sputter, Mus. Better stop before your embarassment gets any worse.
 

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Only a fool thinks he already knows everything.

Anybody who does not constantly ask questions and seek to better themselves and their orgranization does not deserve to be a leader.

The man is admitting the system isn't perfect, and he is trying to find ways to improve it. What more could you possibly expect from him?
 

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azeeb said:
Only a fool thinks he already knows everything.

Anybody who does not constantly ask questions and seek to better themselves and their orgranization does not deserve to be a leader.

The man is admitting the system isn't perfect, and he is trying to find ways to improve it. What more could you possibly expect from him?
Exactly. He is also phrasing his questions for what is clearly a management brainstorm in worst case terms. Meanwhile, like a boxing coach, in public hes telling the troops, "Youre killing him kid, stick to the plan."

I dont see anything wrong with it.
 

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Paladin said:
You're starting to spit and sputter, Mus. Better stop before your embarassment gets any worse.
I guess the internet isnt the best forum to pick up emotion on Paladin. Im amused not embarassed.

;)

Feel free to prove me wrong by quoting the part where Rumsfeld said we were doing the opposite of winning at any point.
 

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Good News And Bad News

Quoting Rumsfeld:

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us? Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?

The U.S. is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions. Do we need a new organization? How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools? Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?


Good News: Vitally important questions and issues are being asked and addressed. Good management.

Bad News: These vitally important questions and issues are being asked and addressed after two years in. Rotten management.
 

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Re: Good News And Bad News

LenB said:
Bad News: These vitally important questions and issues are being asked and addressed after two years in. Rotten management.
I guess I missed that part of the memo.

Or are you just Assuming that these questions and issues havent been discussed over the last two years?
 
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