Monday, May 10, 2010


If the attempted car bombing in Times Square is any indication of al Qaeda’s competence and expertise, then we can cancel the War on Terror, dissolve the Department of Homeland Defense and issue visas to every member of al Qaeda we can lay our hands on. Between shoe bombs , exploding underwear and plastic bottle of exploding shampoo, it looks like your garden variety terrorist couldn’t even put a Chinese firecracker in a mail box without screwing up the operation.


It could be that what we are witnessing is planned incompetence. Think about it: al Qaeda knows full well that were it to kill scores of people in Times Square the full wrath of the United States military establishment would come crashing down on the Middle East. If, however, they staged a series of botched attempt with the sole goal of getting the Pentagon’s knickers in a knot, then they would get what they wanted, an increase in military activity that would lead to more civilian deaths that would give al Qaeda and the Taliban a increased pool of potential recruits.

Already we can hear the sound of knotting knickers emanating from the Beltway. The New York Times tells us there is a move within the administration to use the Times Square bombing as an excuse to ramp up our military activity in Pakistan. This means more contracts to be let and an additional justification for the Pentagon’s existence.

As Iraq winds down the Pentagon is badly in need of another war to replace it. According to Jack A. Smith, “Evidently the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief period of peace while preparing for the next war.”

And Pakistan appears to be Act III in our Eternal War of the Empty Policy.

The article quotes an official whospeaks of the need for “boots on the ground.” That phrase is an example of what I call Geekspeak. Geekspeak is a word or phrase that inflates itself into a linguistic bubble that breaks free of reality and floats into space like a sterile dust mote. Geekspeak’s forte is covering the stench and gore of war with soothing euphemisms that give a false impression of linear sanity and intellectual rigor. Geekspeak is the bastard child of the value-free language so worshiped by the social sciences.

Other examples of Geekspeak are “full-spectrum dominance,” which is the doctrine of the playground bully. Then there’s “power projection capabilities” that include digging bullets out of civilian corpses so their murder can be blamed on the “enemy.” “Dominant global hegemon” is another way of saying, “Mine is bigger than yours!” Then there’s the ever popular “metrics,” which is a polite way of saying we can now quantify why we’re getting our asses kicked.

However, my favorite is “robust.” Robust is bureaucratese for machismo. It’s used by men who want to touch their feminine side, but not too much. People are ambivalent about aggression, but everyone loves robustness. It reeks of glowing health and evokes images of Tom Terrific manning the battlements against hordes of attacking brownskins intent on raping our daughters and marrying our sisters. It’s patriotic to be robust. Aggressiveness is what our enemies are.

This is only a partial list. Readers are invited to submit their own entries. Geekspeak rolls out of the Beltway like a fetor wafting across the Potomac River. But then what can we expect from a Beltway that is world’s largest sheltered workshop for arrested adolescents.

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