Every now and then we can forget, but it's really sort of terrifying to consider that the people in charge of the United States government and the most powerful military in the world have no fucking idea what they're doing.
This is important to consider. As "experienced" as our Representatives and Senators and the Wise People of the Baker-Hamilton Commission are, none of them has any experience dealing with the spread of global terrorism. These people are just making shit up as they go along.
(As an aside, I think it's clear to everyone that George Bush would have a hard time convincing any major U.S. corporation to let him be its CEO; Google, GE, or Disney could not be so stupid. Yet, somehow, we've allowed this joker to run the United States of America -- straight into the fucking ground -- for the last six years.)
World War I, defeating Germany and Japan, outspending the Soviets in a Cold War arms race, etc. -- none of these things is analogous to the confrontation with terrorism and no American leaders have any experience with the type of situation we face today. It is vital to keep this in mind as we go blundering forward in Iraq and Afghanistan and God knows where else, carrying out, in dark places, terrible things that may never come to light: no one has any idea what they're doing and we are not required to slavishly obey and accept the "expertise" and "wisdom" of these people. A majority of the American people swallowed whole the truckload of bullshit rammed down our throats about the "imminent threat" of Saddam, the "smoking gun of a mushroom cloud" we would face if we didn't invade Iraq, yadda yadda. You'd think we'd all be a hell of a lot more skeptical these days.
But in some ways, we're all still like scared little children, looking anywhere (after losing all faith in our Father-Figure-in-Chief) for someone -- anyone -- to tell us in an authoritative and grandfatherly voice whom we must smash or defeat, what we must do to finally make us totally, completely safe. The Baker-Hamilton Commission offers several valuable ideas, and it should not dismissed out of hand, but we cannot forget going forward that none of these people have any idea how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It's fair to say, I think, that at this point, they don't even quite know what Humpty Dumpty is anymore.
The lesson, I think, is that any dogmatic insistence on the "only way" or the "absolutely necessary" act that we must take to "win" the War on Terror must be taken with a grain of salt the size of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. As the Iraq debacle shows, too many people will take the current situation as an opportunity to carry out the agendas they've been carrying around for years. Certitude and overwrought insistence on a course of action should raise red flags for all of us.