Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fred looks at The Washington Bumble

Fraud is rife, I tell you. At a glance the citadels of power in Washington seem imposing. One thinks of imperial Rome, or the intergalactic empires of science fiction. Along Pennsylvania Avenue, on Capitol Hill, in Foggy Bottom, in monumental buildings in Federal Greek style, men and women of erudition seem to manage the world. Across the river in the Pentagon, spangled generals operate an inconceivably powerful military that can strike anywhere within hours of deciding to do so. At Langley in Virginia and Fort Meade in Maryland the intelligence agencies spy on the world, sucking in vast amounts of information from secret satellites and undersea taps and massive antenna farms. The whole enterprise reeks of inexorability and omniscience.

And so with other governments and empires. But on slightly more penetrating examination, one sees that countries blunder about like idiot children more often than they act wisely, or even sentiently. This is obvious in all fields of national endeavor, but most conspicuously so in matters martial. Armies usually aren’t very good.
The CIA, NSA, Mossad, OGPU, NKVD, KGB, DIA, Savak, MI6--all loom relentless, omniscient, coldly effective, almost spectral—like Batman. You can’t run and you can’t hide. The Shadow knows. They have the dark appeal of ruthlessness and are thought to have secret powers deriving from mysterious electronics and poisons.

At a second glance, they are unimpressive.
I propose a federal law requiring that all babies be fitted with helmets. Too many are dropped on their heads, and bubble up to Capitol Hill, where they impersonate grownups. The illusion of competence.