Skip to comments.The Lesson of The African Queen
Posted on 07/05/2006 3:44:04 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
I watched The African Queen, again this week. That classic movie, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, offered a clear explanation of several current news events this week.
What is the lesson of The African Queen? It is this: Understand your circumstances, and set your goal based on that. In that movie, the goal was to sink the German warship, The Louisa. And that goal dictated the tactics which had to be taken, regardless of danger or odds against them, to reach that goal.
As a reminder of that fine movie, the tactics were for Charlie Allnut and Rose Sayers to go down the Ulanga River, survive the German guns at Fort Shona, survive the rapids on the river, build torpedoes, mount them in the bow of the Queen with manufactured fuses, and sink The Louisa. (That movie contains one of the all-time best bits of dialog: I now pronounce you man and wife. Let the executions proceed.)
Apply that analysis to the Supreme Court decision in the Hamdan case. The goal of five Justices of the Court was to strike a blow against the legal prosecution of the war by the Bush Administration. The tactics were to ignore the Constitution, ignore laws passed by Congress beginning in 1789, and ignore two prior cases of the Court itself, in order to achieve the objective.
Note that I did not say that following the lesson of the Queen is always objectively good. It was not in this instance, nor in the next one. That is the blowback from the New York Times publishing on page one above the fold details of a classified program to track terrorist money through the Belgian clearing house for about 98% of all international interbank clearances.
What was the goal here? It was to attack the Bush Administration. The tactic was to blow the cover of a classified program which was legal (all information was obtained based on warrants presented to SWIFT, the clearing house), and was effective. The article even recited some of the successes of the program, in identifying terrorists in a variety of countries.
The after-the-fact excuse the Times offered, that everybody knew about it, so no harm was done, is belied by the article itself. If this were true, why did the program have any successes? The top-level terrorists who handle millions of dollars would have to be dumbern dirt to run their money through international banks, and therefore through SWIFT, if they already knew about this program. The top-level terrorists may be vicious, subhuman barbarians. But no one has suggested that they are dumbern dirt. Apparently, it is not a job requirement for the Editor in Chief of the New York Times that he actually read the articles in his own newspaper.
But, I didnt come to talk about either the Supreme Court or the New York Times. I came to talk about North Korea. What is the goal there? It is to end, permanently, the threat of North Korea with its nuclear and missile programs to its neighbors and to the whole world. That can only be accomplished by changing the regime there. There is no other real solution.
As former Assistant Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, said on TV this afternoon, the so-called diplomatic efforts are only an elaborate Kabuki dance, in which they get something and we get nothing. Hes right.
So was General Douglas MacArthur, who was removed by President Truman as Commander in the Korean War, because MacArthur thought in terms of winning the war. We didnt win that war, and the consequences are that North Korea remains a threat today, just as it was when the truce not a Treaty of Surrender was established half a century ago.
What is the purpose of any war, at any time in human history? It is either to destroy the regime which began the particular war, or to change the future behavior of that regime.
All this prattling about an exit plan or a plan for the war only demonstrates that the people who make such comments are ignorant of the history of American wars. No war has a schedule, because the collapse of an enemy cannot be predicted. World War II in the Pacific, for instance, would have continued for up to another year, with more than a million more casualties, absent the use of two atomic bombs to force the Japanese to surrender.
Here is the exit plan for every war the United States has ever conducted to a successful outcome: Win the war. Clean up the resulting mess. Bring the troops home.
The same applies to the Korean War which is still legally in effect even though the guns have been silent for half a century.
That war spans my memory. I learned to read grown-up publications by putting the Baltimore Sun on the floor, and puzzling through the big words in that newspaper. On the upper left of every front page was a map of Korea, displaying the current battle lines.
In short, the only solution to the North Korean situation is to finish the Korean War. Though, as I wrote more than a year ago, the cleanest, least bloody way to do that is with bribery. Offer all NK Generals a million dollars each in Swiss bank accounts and amnesty for whatever they have done recently, if they turn on Kim Jong-Il, throw him out of office, and allow the reunification of the Korean peninsula under the South Korean government.
It is time for us to finish what we deliberately, and wrongly, left undone fifty years ago. (Am I the only person who has noticed that the official portraits of Kim Jong-Il look like Al Sharpton, but with a better hairdo?)
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About the Author: John Armor is a lawyer specializing in constitutional law, who may again be a candidate for Congress in the 11th District of North Carolina.
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John / Billybob
I have "The African Queen" on DVD and find the analogy mentioned apt.
Thanks, Congressman BillyBob.
Festering wounds need to be cleansed and thoroughly aired so they can heal. Time to Pop North Korea and lance the boil, Aye Aye , Sir!
PS .. If Hillary gets the nod in 2008, I look forward to a CBB 'Creature from the Black Lagoon' offering as well, assuming Obama is the Veep on the dem ticket. ;-)
(in best whiny, preachy voice) "Can you build a torpedo Mr. Allnut? Then do so Mr. Allnut"
One of the best movies of all time
1) Never pick up a New England snob and offer her a boat ride
2) Unless shes a mechanic or has a boat to replace yours, any idea she has about using your boat as a makeshift torpedo should be disreguarded.
3) Always carry extra salt to get rid of leeches.
4) Keep that crazy woman away from your gin.
[Rose] "Who could imagine that an experience of the flesh could be so stimulating?"
BTW, it's Sayer and Königin Luise.
I was driving on I-95 in Northern Miami many years ago and was next to a truck towing a boat. The boat looked pretty old and vaguely familiar: it was the actual "African Queen" used in the movie! Haven't a clue how it got to Miami.
BTW, I was in your neck of the woods recently. Had some great BBQ in a little place in Dillsboro. Yum!
I'm looking forward to being able to call you "The Honorable Bob."
"So was General Douglas MacArthur, who was removed by President Truman as Commander in the Korean War, because MacArthur thought in terms of winning the war. "
No he was removed because aside from his insubordination and disregard of direct orders, he made several tactical blunders which cost many thousands of American and allied lives.
What brand of bourbon do you like? I won't come empty handed.
I would enjoy very much chatting with you.
Excellent evaluation of the situation.
Wes Pruden called Kim Jong-Il Howdy Doody in a leisure suit.