Going… Going… Gonzo

Despite the fact that I’ve been busy as a one-armed paperhanger since last Friday, I scrounged out the time for lunch with Dorkman today.  He insisted that it was of utmost importance and urgency, and when he said that, I responded, because he’s definitely not known for hyperbole.  “Dorkman” is his first name, so he’s a member of the My First Name is an Initial Club, along with such distinguished fellows as J. Edgar Hoover, F. Scott Fitzgerald and G. Gordon Liddy.  Consequently, hardly anybody besides me knows that his first name is “Dorkman.”  I guess if my first name was “Dorkman,” I’d keep it to myself and go through life using my middle name, too.
Actually, until Dorkman reads this, he won’t realize that I know what the “D.” stands for.  Not to worry, Dorkman, if you are reading this: can you state the first names of Hoover, Fitzgerald and Liddy?  Of course not.  Will an exhaustive search of the federal employee, contractor and consultant rolls reveal a gentleman whose first name is “Dorkman?”  No way.  Dorkman, you are realistically ashamed of your first name, it would have been suicide to proudly use it throughout what would have been a pathetic attempt at a career; because you eschewed it, your life has been normal – or at least what passes for that around here –  and I am certain you left no record of it.  I shudder to imagine your parents, but I respectfully submit this proves that some people should not have children.
We dined at an ethnic restaurant in the suburbs, one of those where the food is authentic and wholesome, but not at all remarkable.  It was a place where an office manager might take everybody to celebrate someone’s birthday on the company account.  As a matter of fact, there was a party of nine two tables away who were obviously doing just that.
It’s in locations such as this, where we do not appear the least bit out of place, but know that the prying eyes of other Washington insiders are unlikely to be present, that gentlemen such as Dorkman and I can safely conduct all manner of unusual business.  The unusual business at hand today was a sheaf of photocopies in Dorkman’s briefcase.
“You can’t have these,” he told me, “but you can read them and take all the notes you like.”
“Why me?” I enquired.
“Because I heard you started blogging.”
Dorkman leaned close, smiling like a fox in a hen house.  “And a blog written by the mythical Tom Collins of Constitution Avenue is the perfect place to break the story behind these documents.”
“Not the Times?  The Post?  CNN?”
“No, they’ve all been compromised.  The story would never see the light of day anywhere in the mainstream press.  They’re all in on it with the administration and the Republican Congressional caucus.”
“Well,” I replied, settling back in the thick, leather covered plush booth, taking a deep drag from my Stoli Vanil and Kahlua white Russian, “as the scientists who investigate UFO incidents say, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.”
Without saying another word, Dorkman handed me a stack of paper four inches thick.  And extraordinary it was.
Lately, as you, dear reader, almost certainly know, a heated debate has raged inside the Beltway about what to do next in Iraqi.  The Government and the press have named the options (the ones that they have let you know about so far, anyway) as “Go Big,” “Go Long” and “Go Home.”
“Go Big” is shorthand for increasing our military presence in Iraqi to an extent sufficient to stamp out the insurgency, chaos and cycles of random violent retribution that now grip Iraq like a case of malaria consuming a six-year-old Congolese with chronic malnutrition.  Doing this without having the Selective Service conscript countless regiments of pale, flabby, sassy, gelid, callow, undisciplined, spineless, unkempt, tattooed, lazy, sissified, immature, snivelling, cowardly, mentally unstable little teenage punks with big-mouthed, self-righteous, politically active middle class parents (or grandparents) who grew up in the 1960’s fighting the draft for the war in, ahem, Vietnam, is the first salient obstacle to “Go Big.”  Financing it is the second.  One widely-discussed idea for increasing our all-volunteer force to the necessary size without a draft would be, plain and simple, to pay members of the volunteer forces more bucks.  But given how things are going in Iraq, this would mean paying them a lot more, and, based on the latest DoD estimates of just how much “a lot more” would be, the Treasury has already stated that they don’t know if they can print that much money.  Besides, if we do, it’s likely that the Japanese, Chinese, Saudis and everybody else holding American dollars will dump those greenbacks in favor of the Euro so fast that a grinning Ben Franklin won’t cover a large latte at the Paris Starbucks.  On the other hand, according to the CBO, if we are determined to continue having money that can actually buy things and try to pay for the necessary additional volunteer troop strength by raising taxes, then everybody earning less than $367,500 a year will be going to work every day more or less for their own amusement.  So, this option is what we Capitol mavens call “problematic in multiple parameters.”
“Go Long” is a way of saying that we keep our troop strength constant, but redeploy them so as to reduce casualties, then dig in for a decade or two, or maybe three, possibly four or five – supporting a nascent but faltering Iraqi national government in its attempts to create an orderly, democratic, economically viable country, all the while weathering a constant drumbeat of American voter discontent with an obvious and glaring lack of progress.  How to distinguish this course of action from the one that failed so spectacularly in, ahem, Vietnam, is the salient conundrum wrapped in the enigma of this approach.  The scuttlebutt has it that Kissinger Associates is on board to split this particular Gordian knot, which makes sense – after all, Hank’s an expert on extended, intractable conflicts where we lose embarrassingly and look enormously stupid after spending year after agonizing year slogging through an ever-deepening, ever-widening, unending quagmire.  Kissinger may be old, but he still has the magic, make no mistake about that.  If anybody can show us the light at the end of this tunnel, it’s him.  The only thing that would mess it up would be if he croaked on us in decade 2 or something.  Fortunately, it’s safe to assume that by then Lawrence Eagleburger will have learned all of Kissinger’s tricks and could probably take over for decades 3 through 6 without blowing it.  Anyway, I hear that, owing to his importance to national security, Hank’s extreme longevity has been virtually ensured, so it’s probably not even worth worrying about.  What is worth worrying about is whether the American public is dumb enough to vote for the US to stay in Iraq as long, or longer, than we did in ahem, Vietnam.  I know it may be hard for some politicians to believe, but the word on the street is that even the American public isn’t moronic enough to fall for that trick twice.
“Go Home” is the path favored by a lot of liberals, a significant minority of Republican moderates, Democrats in general, and a surpassing number of our generals.  It means just what it says – more or less.  Exactly how we would pull out of Iraq without completely screwing the pooch as we did in, ahem, Vietnam, remains, as they say, to be determined.  The “near date certain” camp favors a “declare victory and leave” strategy, arguing that sunk costs are irrelevant to future decisions and therefore don’t worry about whether it looks like our last days in, ahem, Vietnam when we bug out, just blow that rickety popcicle stand and be quick about it.  They want us out of Iraq sometime between yesterday and 2008, depending on who’s talking.  The “graceful exit” camp prefers to “demonstrate victory and leave.”  They say it is geopolitically untenable for the United States to “cut and run” in the face of a bunch of camel-driving, male-relative kissing, date-stuffing, bathrobe-wearing, towel-head clowns like the Iraqis, acting as if we were preening, prancing, lavender-soaked Italian fascist officers confronted with Patton’s Seventh Army.  This camp is itself split into the “far date certain” faction, the “surge” faction and the “state, not date” faction.  The “far date certain” faction says that a definite pull-out date, somewhere between 2009 and 2014, depending on who’s talking, is necessary to encourage the Iraqis to “stand up as we stand down,” just as the national government of ahem, South Vietnam did when we pulled out of there.  The “surge” faction borrows a page from the “Go Big” playbook, but insists that we just need to place 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000 more troops in Iraq, depending on who’s talking, to secure the ground for an ordered withdrawal of forces sometime after 2009, 2012 or 2014, depending on who’s talking.  They insist that the “surge” troops would leave just as soon as everything was fixed hunky-dory and that their departure would not precipitate an accelerated collapse, as a similar strategy did in ahem, Vietnam.  The third faction maintains that the Iraq end-game is a question of “state, not date.”  This means that Iraq needs to attain a defined set of conditions, or state, before we leave, and we should specify that instead of a pull-out date.  To their credit, this faction has also said precisely what that state should be and how to get there.  They say we need to engage in a carefully controlled, proactively administrated program of “Iraqi-fication,” involving the establishment of (1) a nice bunch of guys running the place – trustworthy, regular guys with Western values and educations who wear snazzy suits and speak decent English, for Christ’s sake – guys who genuinely like the United States, feel friendly to Halliburton and have a warm spot in their heart for the members of the American Petroleum Institute; (2) stable, loyal, effective and efficient Iraqi military and internal law enforcement organizations, carefully crafted by our own highly-skilled Special Forces advisors to employ violence thoughtfully and be eternally subservient to orders issued by the civilian Iraqi government; and, (3) a vast, country-wide inter-locking system of “strategic hamlets,” ruled by thoroughly vetted, screened and indoctrinated local and tribal leaders, which is secured via a network of fortified highways to central firebases, an extensive organization of US-backed, paid informants and, of course, holding the children of those local and tribal leaders as hostages in prep schools back Stateside.  Then we leave and watch the whole thing fall apart, just like we did in, ahem, Vietnam.  But we would not have offered our enemies aid and encouragement by giving them a date they could mark on their calendars when they could be absolutely sure the American troops would be gone.  And what’s more, the rest of the world will still be scared of us afterward, which might not be the case if we specify a definite pull-out date and have to deal with absurd consequences that turn us into an international laughingstock, as happened with our adventure in, ahem, Vietnam.
To my amazement, however, the documents Dorkman showed me outline another option altogether.  In the various memoranda and white papers I saw, the different organizations within the government have, as would be expected, put it in their own different ways.  The State Department says “Go mad,” the CIA says “Go loco,” the NSA says “Go wacko,” the Republican Caucus in Congress says “Go bonkers,” the Pentagon says “Go nuts,” and the White House says “Go crazy,” but the general thrust of the proposals made is unmistakable.
Here, then, under the general rubric of “Go insane,” exclusive to Tom Collins’ World Wide Web Log, are some of the current suggestions under analysis for future implementation:
Prepare one hundred thousand Iraqi police and military uniforms in various sizes.  Air drop them over every urban center in the country. (CIA)
Start shelling, strafing, rocketing, mortaring, bombing and hitting targets with cruise missiles at random. (Congressional Republicans)  Precede each attack by ten minutes with warnings clearly broadcast on loudspeakers – in Swahili. (Pentagon)
Instead of taking captured foreign nationals to Gitmo, we dress them in pink leotards and powder blue tutus, then abandon them in Darfur. (CIA)
Recruit Southern rednecks as mercenaries. (Congressional Republicans)  Carve out a “Yellow Zone” in Baghdad, where the rednecks raise hogs. (State Department)  Pay the rednecks to surround Iraqi Sunni and Shiite towns and villages, keeping all food out for weeks. (CIA)  Then we air drop Ex-Lax bars in Hershey wrappers laced with BZ military hallucinogen. (Pentagon)  The next day the rednecks throw a big pork barbecue just outside the city limits, positioned so the smoke blows over the town. (White House)
We offer the Shiites 50 billion dollars to kill all the Sunnis.  If the Shiites refuse, we offer the Sunnis 50 billion dollars to kill all the Shiites.  If the Sunnis refuse, we offer the Iranians 50 billion dollars to kill all the Sunnis.  If the Iranians refuse, issue a press release announcing “we were just kidding.” (State Department)
Fire up our extensive IT hardware infrastructure to speed dial cell phone numbers at random all over Iraq, thereby causing cell phone-activated enemy IEDs to explode unexpectedly. (NSA)
Load some of those robot trucks that kinda, sorta work with high explosives, then let them go to wander around in downtown Baghdad. (Pentagon)  Use cell phone activation, just like the jihadis do, but delayed long enough for our guys to get the hell away, then let the NSA’s random cell phone number dialer software take care of detonation timing. (CIA)
Arm some of those remote-control vehicles that actually do work pretty good with some awesome firepower, then uplink them to a U.S. Government-run Web site. (NSA)  Sell ordinary browser access to a Humvee equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and 200 rounds using keyboard and mouse controls for $75 per hour; (Congressional Republicans) offer high-bandwidth links to a Bradley equipped with two .50 caliber machine guns, 1,000 rounds and a 40 millimeter grenade launcher with a dozen grenades, operated by PS3, X-Box or Wii consoles, for $300 per hour. (Pentagon)  Terminate the introductory $75 and $300 dollar per hour rates after 30 days and start selling two-hour time blocks on eBay for whatever the market will bear. (White House)  Auction use of remote controlled tanks on eBay. (CIA)  Give members of Congress five hours controlling a Humvee, three hours controlling a Bradley and two hours controlling a tank at no charge. (Congressional Republicans)  Auction use of remote controlled Apache helicopters on eBay. (Pentagon)  Provide one free hour controlling an Apache for members of Congress; allow members of Congress to accept free time on various remote controlled armed vehicles from lobbyists and other private citizens; and, allow members of Congress to sell their free time on various armed vehicles. (Congressional Republicans)
Start answering all press conference questions in Pig Latin.  (White House)  Any time a reporter asks a question containing the phrase “civil war,” lower an 1860’s map of North America and start talking about ort-fay-umter-say, eye-low-shay, ull-bay-un-ray, ica-maugha-chay, old-cay-arbor-hay, efferson-jay avis-day and esident-prey incoln-lay. (Pentagon)
Respond to any mention of the Geneva Convention with a promise to hold a convention in Geneva. (CIA)  Hold a Shriners convention in Geneva. (Congressional Republicans)  Fly Shriners and hookers to the Geneva Convention; (White House) give the Shriners and hookers diplomatic status; (State Department) put them up in hotels at Government expense; (Congressional Republicans) stock each hotel room with a case of 100-proof liquor and provide free unlimited room service; (CIA) install hidden surveillance in all the hotel rooms; (NSA) invite foreign diplomats to meet with the Shriners; (White House) hold daily Shriner parades during the Geneva Convention; (Pentagon) provide golf carts and circus animals for the daily Shriner parades. (State Department)  Sneak some of the circus animals into the hotel rooms; (CIA) oh yeah – and their bridles, chains, leather and tack, too, and let’s shoot it all in digital color with stereo sound! (NSA)  Schedule a Presidential address to the American people during prime time and broadcast an hour of selected clips from the NSA surveillance videos. (White House)  Render the broadcast a completely legitimate Presidential address by having the President narrate the video in voice-over. (State Department)  Respond to any further mention of the Geneva Convention by stating that we already had one. (Pentagon)
Instead of sending illegal immigrants back to Mexico and Central America, we ship them to Iraqi and pay them minimum wage to guard the oil fields – with BB guns. (Congressional Republicans)
Broadcast nothing but Looney Toons on all Iraqi TV channels, nothing but Death Metal on all Iraqi radio frequencies. (NSA)
Force the current Iraqi government to march in the San Francisco Doo-Dah Parade; at gunpoint, if necessary. (White House)  Film the results and interrupt the Looney Toons on Iraqi TV with the footage while the cartoon sound track continues running. (CIA)  Burn their homes down while they are out of town. (Congressional Republicans)  Film their reactions when they return to Iraqi and put that on Iraqi TV with cartoon sound tracks, too. (NSA)  Whenever officially greeting them, have the band play “The Merry Go Round Broke Down” instead of the Iraqi national anthem. (State Department)
Now, an ordinary person would think that all these proposals about going totally insane that are circulating around the highest echelons of the US Government would be classified, most likely as Top Secret.  However, none of the materials Dorkman showed me were classified, not even as Confidential.  That seems very strange until one realizes that discussing going totally insane in the clear is, itself, totally insane.  Bingo!  That’s nothing short of brilliant, isn’t it?  IMHO, this might be the most sophisticated thing the G.W. Bush administration has ever done.
Needless to say, we stayed for dessert and lingered over our coffee as long as we dared while I made notes on those documents.  There was really way too much for me to have written down all of it in that short time, but these were the highlights, and the best parts, with the exception of a several items that were so demented, so outrageous, so callous, so condescending, so violent and so blatantly, overtly, fizzing-with-rabies, bat-scratch psychopathic that there’s absolutely no way I am going to post them on my blog.  As a matter of fact, I’m trying hard not to think about them, right now.  Unfortunately, it’s not working.  Ah well, a few horrible nightmares is a small price to pay for the privilege of breaking a story like this.  Now back to meeting a new client’s insanely short deadline.