So, loyal readers (all...one? And a half?), I do not usually use this blog to talk overmuch about political things. The reason being that discussing politics usually reduces me to a blob of inchoate, quivering, foaming-at-the-mouth rage.
I used to think about politics a lot, way back when I interned at a non-profit and was on a gazillion e-mail lists and regularly wrote to my senator and was in general not quite as worn-down and sad as I am today. You know, back when I thought the anger could actually generate some sort of useful outcome. (Nope! Ulcers.)
Now, my political strategy is this: I will put my head in the drawer of my desk, and you will close the drawer repeatedly on my neck until I no longer have to think about it.
Talk radio, right? Funnily enough, my radio dial is tuned to 630 WMAL. Yes, that 630, home of Sean Hannity, who just a few weeks said that he totes gets what single mothers are going through, then in his next breath promulgated getting rid of every social support network for them. Which...what?
Anyway. 630 is also the home of Rush Limbaugh, who I do not listen to, because I am at work when he is on the radio, and if I did - well, see head-neck-desk-slamming thing above.
So, about a week ago President Obama authorized sending 100 U.S. military troops to Uganda to help in the fight against the Lord's Resistance Army.
The LRA, led by a charismatic, sadistic madman named Joseph Kony, has been terrorizing Uganda for twenty-something years. Kony has proved wickedly difficult to capture, and the LRA has killed, maimed, tortured, brutalized, raped, and otherwise traumatized countless Ugandans, mainly children.
In fact, if you were holding auditions for the Antichrist, Kony is the guy you'd want to cast. This guy makes Charles Manson look like an Eagle Scout. The LRA replenishes its numbers by raiding Ugandan villages and kidnapping children, then forcing them to later return to their villages and murder their family members and neighbors as a way of proving their loyalty to Kony and the LRA.
The LRA has ranged over Uganda and Sudan, leaving thousands dead and disfigured in their wake. For over twenty years, they've carved a bloody wound into Uganda's flank, and the Ugandan army and government have been unable to stop them.
But, gentle reader, I am but one miniscule speck of dust in this vast wasteland. Let us now turn to Rush, for his take on the subject:
According to Rush, the LRA are Christians, and Obama, that big meanie, is sending troops to murder poor innocent Christians who are just doing their holy duty by fighting the evil Muslims in Sudan:
"There's a new war," said Limbaugh. "A hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda." According to Limbaugh, the LRA is not in fact a murderous core group headed by a madman and trailed by hundreds of shattered children, it is in fact a Christian group fighting Muslims. In Sudan.
Right. Which is sort of like saying, this pile of rotten vegetables covered in manure and flies is in fact a delicious four-course feast.
Except not, at all.
This is perhaps not all that surprising, since Limbaugh may have indeed been in another one of his prescription-drug induced hazes when he made the above pronouncement. But it is indicative of another rather disturbing trend among today's Presidential candidates (all, what, thirty-something of them?), that is, the proud and gleeful declaration of complete ignorance of, well, pretty much anything.
Which is, what's the word...alarming.
Take, for instance, from that same Salon article, this quote from Herman Cain: “When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, ‘You know, I don’t know. Do you know?’ … Knowing who is the head of some of these small insignificant states around the world I don’t think that is something that is critical to focusing on national security and getting this economy going.”
Er. I invite you to check this out:
That's right. Afghanistan. And Iran, which last time I checked, was not in the habit of waving tiny American flags. Here's another fun fact: when you have boots on the ground in a country, those boots need things like fuel, bullets, food, water, electrical equipment, medical supplies, chewing gum, and pictures of Betty from back home to keep their morale high.
Guess how we get stuff from the U.S. of A into Afghanistan? Through Uzbekistan. So it actually is kind of important who the president of Uzbekistan is.
See, there's this thing called the Northern Distribution Network (NDN for shortsies). The NDN is a vital supply line for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan is a major hub for the NDN, because of things like "geography" and "where countries are in the world" and "hostile neighbors." There are a lot of concerns about the NDN - namely, Uzbekistan has a horrendous human rights record, and the NDN is quickly becoming a source of cash for some bad actors - but the fact remains that we have stuff at point A (here) that we need to get to point B (Afghanistan) and because of that whole pesky geography thing and not having invented teleportation yet, we're kind of stuck with moving stuff through Uzbekistan.
So if, for example, one were interested in applying for a job where a major component would be doing things like directing what happens to troops in Afghanistan, it would actually behoove one to, in fact, know who the president of Uzbekistan is.
I don't even have a degree in International Relations! I just used the good old Internet to find all that stuff out.
So, you know, call me if you need a strategist or something. Because I have this dynamic head-desk-drawer-slamming thing that is going to totally blow your mind.