Of Puppies and Lattes and Bombs Away: Asking All The Wrong Questions

Will we run out of targets?

If you are growing weary of my taking up this space to once again write about Syria and the War on Beheadings, you can blame the check-engine light on my wife’s Subaru.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Subaru Impreza. The mileage stinks. There’s a little whine that comes from the general direction of the right rear tire that no one can seem to diagnose. The dashboard is confusing; the GPS competes for your attention with the Bluetooth and so many other devices that you need a copilot just to turn on the radio to hear the Yankees game. And the driver’s side visor slips down at random moments and blocks your view when you least expect it. For my money, that’s too many little things going wrong on a 3-year-old car.

But my wife loves it. The hatchback is ideal for letting the dog in and out of the car, and if you tilt the sunroof, it keeps the car cool for the puppy while my wife runs into the store. It really is all about the dog. I don’t even get a vote.

But when all the lights start blinking, I’m the one who gets to take the car in to have it checked out. It’s a very pleasant experience, for the most part, with friendly mechanics, free coffee and Snickers bars and even Wi-Fi access in the waiting room.

But the television is set, as in a lot of retail places, to the talking heads of Fox News. I happened to catch this midday gaggle on the day that the President arrived at the United Nations to address the General Assembly. It was just three days after the People’s Climate March, the world’s largest single public outcry for action on climate change, yet the president chose, unfortunately, to ignore the pleas of a melting planet and instead spend his precious hour inciting the world to join him in an ill-advised campaign to mimic his predecessor’s best-known disaster: war in Iraq (and Syria).

Even though the president who promised to end these wars had been lobbing bombs into Syria and Iraq for more than a week, that was not enough to quell the appetites of the hungry foxes. Gretchen Carlson and company could not even focus on the president’s war, since they were intent on drawing our attention to Obama’s latest atrocity: saluting with a cup of coffee (Or was it chai tea? Details at 11) in his right hand.

The Fox panel spent nearly a full hour excoriating the president, ridiculing the person who, perhaps they remember, might reasonably be called their commander-in-chief in time of war. Each panelist began his or her rants by telling us about how uncles or cousins or brothers served in uniform and how hurtful and disrespectful this Instagrammed version of the “latte salute” was to them.

I will spare you the litany of relatives who’ve gone before me and their battlefield glories, because such nonsense adds nothing to the discussion, nor should it inspire you to give any more credibility to my view: that these attacks on the president were, in this civilian’s view, ridiculous.

But they were just warming up. As I opened a pack of complimentary Lorna Doone cookies, I heard Carlson ask Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if there were a danger that, in pursuit of ISIS, we might “run out of targets.”

Is that a danger? Running out of targets? She sounded alarmed, like a hostess watching the buffet table getting picked over, worried that she might have to order some more cocktail franks.

“Is there a danger that we might run out of targets?”

Heaven help us.

But that was just the prologue. Next appeared the ever reliable Oliver North, of Ira- Contra fame, calling for the president to send in the Marines.

How skewed can a debate get? The president, who has just unleashed hundreds of air strikes on Syria and Iraq, is being goaded for being too peaceable, because he’s not looking to send in ground troops. The debate should be about whether we have to go in at all, given the shifting alliances in the region and our poor record at picking the good guys from the bad guys. (Remember that ISIS advanced into Iraq when the army we spent 10 years training essentially deserted when the firing started.)

Unlike North, I contend that we could safely leave matters alone, let the bad guys slug it out on their own turf, while we focus our efforts, it is worth repeating, on keeping them from getting hold of nuclear weapons or other WMDs. That quiet, behind-the-scenes work doesn’t involve those dazzling images of missiles launching from battleships, but it does make us safer.

As it turned out, it was a faulty gas cap housing; $160 later, the dashboard lights were out, I waved goodbye to the talking heads and was back on the road.
Some problems are easier to fix than others.

Ed Griffin-Nolan

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