Saturday, June 15, 2013

When The United States Intervenes

Mad Dog occasionally is compelled to venture out of the Shire and wander among the creatures far from his Hobbit realm.

San Francisco is filled with wondrous creatures doing odd and fascinating things and just looking at them is enough to set Mad Dog's eyes spinning--Eurasians with their high zygomatic arches, a couple, white and black walking down the street with their beautiful blue eyed son; this is definitely NOT whitebread New Hampshire.

The meeting is international, languages Mad Dog recognizes but cannot speak (German, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese) languages Mad Dog can understand but not speak (French, Irish) and languages he can only guess at (Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Polish).

In the midst of all this cacophony comes news a married male doctor in Afghanistan attempted to examine a female patient who was not his wife in an examining room in his office--an unremarkable event which occurs all across the USA, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, but in Afghanistan all hell was unleashed. The doctor and his patient were chased out of the office by a howling mob, and both were stoned. Reports are sketchy and it not clear whether either survived but both may have--the doctor may have been removed to India for treatment of head wounds. 

When Mad Dog studied anthropology in college, there was a strong effort to discourage students from judging the values and actions of other people of other cultures by American standards. 

This idea has been supported by many since--the most emphatic example being The Spirit Moves Me and I Fall Down, about the efforts of American doctors in California to save a Hmong child who was suffering from epilepsy, whose parents refused to treat her with anticonvulsants, and the child was brought repeatedly to the Emergency Room in status epilepeticus, and the child eventually died in a convulsive event. But it was the American doctors, not the family, who the author faulted, for their lack of understanding of this ancient Hmong culture. The doctors and social workers viewed the parents as child abusers. For shame--the parents were merely viewing a seizure disorder as a universe which was out of harmony.

So Mad Dog understands he will be viewed as intolerant of other people and other cultures when he says, Let Us Get Out of Afghanistan, poste haste. And more than that, let us withdraw from all those places around the world who consider women as nothing more than baby making machines, who ought to be veiled, kept uneducated, treated like possessions and children and generally made to live half lives under the thumb of male domination. 

Mad Dog realizes that Franklin Roosevelt was reviled in some quarters for not doing more to intervene in places where Nazis were mistreating Jews. And Clinton still regrets not having done more to intervene in Rwanda.  But Mad Dog would submit, you cannot change some people and you cannot change cultures and you have cultures which, as their basic premise are intolerant. 

The one thing Americans ought not tolerate is intolerance, the unwillingness of any culture to hear the other side. Parte.altera tantum parte,  Hear the other side. 

We did not understand what was going on in Vietnam and we staggered around like demented Green giants for 5 years, killing and maiming and doing the Devil's work.

We may understand Afghanistan better, but that doesn't mean we have to like it or that we owe them anything. We will certainly never change or reform that way of thinking.

So let us simply remove our gallant young men and women and Bring 'Em Home. 

And let us resolve to not make that same mistake twice--no we are already into twice. Let us not make it a third time. 


  1. Mad Dog,
    I agree that that we are well past the expiration date on the Afghan war-it's rather depressing that the Taliban announcing they are now willing to negotiate with the Afghan government is considered progress and a step towards closure--I thought we wanted them out..not a lot of progress for 12 years of war and countless deaths. So on that note, I also agree with you that entering Syria and starting a third war doesn't seem like an especially good idea-I don't fault the President in taking his time deciding what to do, despite what Bill Clinton and John McCain think..

    Glad to see you enjoyed San Francisco after your rather eventful flight there. That was a fine example of how some individuals immediately step up and do the right thing while others, despite ample time and opportunity, fail to. That passenger was exceptionally lucky you weren't in the latter column. I would imagine as you boarded the plane and thought about what you'd do during the long flight-sleep, read, watch a movie- that deciding whether the plane should land in Utah wasn't one of the options you considered..amazing....

    1. Maud,

      San Francisco, far as Mad Dog could see, is inhabited by very rich people who live in million dollar homes (the median price) and by street people, who sleep with their dogs thereby ensuring Mad Dog's sympathy. You can harden your heart to street people, but not to street dogs.
      As for the adventure on the air plane: Mad Dog's wife got all nostalgic for the days when Mad Dog was a house officer at The New York Hospital, running "codes" routinely, winning her nursey heart with what looked like heroics but was actually simply training, like doing a flip turn in swimming--looks pretty cool the first time you see it, until you see it can be learned, and it becomes no big deal. It's the Doc Martin thing.
      Mad Dog's children responded" "Just another day at the office," which is not quite right, but closer to the truth.

      Mad Dog