The Times of London is reporting that as many as five American senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the Bush administration orders an attack on Iran. Good for them, though it won’t keep Israel from making a bombing run. (Yeah, I know that’s a denial. Check out that closing paragraph, where the Israeli Defense Minister says that western authorities “are anxious to spread the idea that we are planning to attack Iran and so be absolved of the need to do the things we have requested of them.”)
The possible resignations reminded me of the military mutinies in Vietnam, which were a major contributor to ending that war. Not that there’s a moral equivalence between fragging your commander and peacefully resigning your commission, but I still couldn’t help but think of the mutinies. I’d vaguely remembered that the Pentagon had recorded some shockingly large number of mutinous incidents, and was googling around for more info, when I found this old Vietnam-era joke (credited to 1,001 Ways to Beat the Draft, by Tuli Kupferburg). A GI is in the hospital, explaining how he got wounded:
I was told that the way to tell a hostile Vietnamese from a friendly Vietnamese was to shout “To hell with Ho Chi Minh!” If he shoots, he’s unfriendly. So I saw this dude and yelled “To hell with Ho Chi Minh!” and he yelled back, “To hell with President Johnson!” We were shaking hands when a truck hit us.
If you were updating this joke for Iraq, you’d swap Bush in for Johnson, but who would you swap in for Ho Chi Minh? Muqtada al-Sadr? Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Ahmed Chalabi? There are so many factions in Iraq that you need an entirely different base joke, probably the one with people on a falling airplane without enough parachutes.
In fact, there’s a sort of meta-joke going on there. You swap in Osama bin Laden for Ho Chi Minh, and if the guy hearing the joke laughs, he probably gets all his news from Fox and Instapundit, and has no idea of what’s going on in Iraq. If he complains that the situation’s more complicated than that, and there are a bunch of rival factions in Iraq, then you’ve got a basis for rational discussion. And then you get hit by a truck.