Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan Briefly

In the early 1950s Graham Greene published a book entitled "The Quiet American," which dealt with Vietnam and the growing American "involvement" there. It was a few years ago made into a movie with Michael Caine and others, which is quite good and quite faithful to the book. But in the story, Alden Pyle is an American who has come to Vietnam to, ostensibly, do medical work for the Vietnamese people. He is actually a CIA man and he has come to justify further American "involvement" in Vietnam, which he does in part by creating a massacre in Saigon that will be laid at the door of the Viet Minh. Pyle meets and befriends a Brit named Thomas Fowler who is most impressed by Pyle's innocence. Here are two quotes from the book which might be applied to Obama after his speech last night on Afghanistan:

"What's the good? he'll [Pyle] always be innocent, you can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity." [p. 155]

And earlier in the novel:

"That was my first instinct - to protect him [Pyle]. It never occurred to me that there was greater need to protect myself. Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it: innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm." [p. 29]

Innocence as insanity....Yes, I think that just about sums it up.

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