Friday, May 05, 2006

Model of a modern Major General

I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who read the AP newspaper story today and breathed a sigh of relief.
After all, when you see the headline: ‘U.S. mocks militant’s misfire’ over a picture of Abu Masab al-Zarqawi clutching a machine gun, then read on to discover the Pentagon has actual video footage of the Al Qaeda leader having trouble discharging his firearm, what can you possibly do but shoot a grateful prayer heavenward and mutter an admiring “talk about ‘mission ‘accomplished!’” before getting ready to count down the last days of the war?
It’s true: al-Zarqawi was videotaped about 20 miles south of the Iraq capitol trying to fix a jammed weapon before finally surrendering, forced to ask a friend to help him unblock the stoppage.
Not only that, but according to military experts who pored over the tape, examining every damning second, al Zarqawi was wearing New Balance tennis shoes – American tennis shoes – as he performed this pathetic stunt.
The ‘mocker’ identified in the headline is one Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for the U.S. command and Baghdad-based bitch-slapper, who offered commentary on the fugitive film, interpreting each feeble attempt at firing, studying every awkward, incompetent gesture of aid from al-Zarqawi’s similarly befuddled cohorts.
“It’s supposed to be automatic fire,” Lynch explains. “He’s shooting single shots. Something’s wrong with his machine gun, He looks down, can’t figure out, calls his friend to come unblock the stoppage and get the weapon firing again.”
It doesn’t say in the newspaper report, but one assumes the Major General spoke in a tone dripping with the sort of contempt that would naturally accompany the discharge of such a distasteful duty.
(Having to look at a man unable to shoot a gun, is one thing… one hideous, hopefully never-to-be-repeated thing; to be called upon to provide narration for such an unmanly, testosterone-challenged spectacle must have been cruel indeed.)
“This piece you all see as he walks away, he’s wearing his black uniform and his New Balance tennis shoes as he moves to this white pick up,” Lynch continues, giving no indication whatsoever of the make or model of the evil Al Qaeda-mobile. “And his close associates around him… do things like grab the hot barrel of the machine gun and burn themselves.”
The picture is clear: how can a guy with a jammed machine gun – a guy who cannot even fire his jammed machine gun and can’t fix it on his own – ever hope to win a war against the kind of guys who find stuff like this funny?
The strategy is brilliant.
The strategy is familiar…
Too familiar…
Re-cast with characters costumed in monochromatic, hooded terrorist garb and chic desert camouflage, and with a plot that though it sometimes meanders away from the central theme, still manages to capture the very essence of the film to which it pays reverent homage, the U.S. Army is reading from the script of Mean Girls.
Hollywood comes to the desert in a scene straight out of the teen queen comedy movie genre, as the popular girls (U.S. forces) take on the bumbling foreigner (al-Zarqawi) using gossip, innuendo and other hurtful torture techniques in order to humiliate and bring her (him) down.
Lindsay Lohan may be a more sympathetic heroine, and the popular girls would likely look better in short skirts and lip gloss than the U.S Army, but for planning, execution and follow through, the motivation and hopes for success read virtually the same.
Here’s where I’m nervous.
I don’t think they saw the last reel of the film. As any tween-something, gum-snapping Lohan-fan could tell you, the mean girls do not – could never – prevail in the end. The details are a little fuzzy to me (having regrettably never actually seen the movie) but the never-in-doubt happy ending is as familiar and predictable as the night follows day shtick.
Hell – Animal House, Stripes, Caddyshack and virtually every film save The Apple Dumpling Gang has much the same plot: meanies never prosper.
How about a cartoon for inspiration? Maybe they could tie al-Zarqawi’s machine gun barrel in a knot… or drop a ten ton weight on his head (or a piano or flower pot if those are more accessible in the Middle East) or get a giant Acme brand sling shot and…
I take back the sigh of relief. I don’t think images of the current Al-Qaeda leader fumbling with his machine gun is enough of a slam dunk humiliation to alter the course of the war in Iraq. What’s truly pathetic is the story Major General Lynch is telling America – and the obvious hopes he has that such a tale will provide comfort to their number.
Because even armies and animators must needs follow the story-telling rules as old as time: Wile E. Coyote could never defeat the Road Runner – even on rocket-powered roller skates – and neither will the U.S. triumph over the forces of evil reading from such a banal script.

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