Frankenstein’s Mirror

January 19, 2008

Happy Frankenstein Month!

We here at Compatible Creatures adore creative ideas, especially those creative ideas engaging our most-disturbing interest as of late: The Catastrophic Legacy of Decider George.

One of the most creative ideas to catch our eyes in recent memory was a piece by Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks, which appeared Thursday under the title “Monsters of our own making,” in which Brooks compares Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to the monster shit-fire Decider George has created in all corners of the globe.
This month marks the 190th anniversary of the first publication of Shelly’s ode to free-thinking science, and Brooks crafted a much-parted creature from the failures of Decider George.

  • “Start with this week’s big story from Pakistan. According to Tuesday’s New York Times, Islamic militant groups funded and nurtured for years by the Pakistani intelligence services — with U.S. backing, in the 1980s — are now completely out of control. The Pakistani government, which hoped to use militant groups to further its own interests in Afghanistan and the Kashmir region, now finds that the militants have instead “turned on their former handlers,” carrying out “a record number of suicide attacks last year, including some aimed directly at army and intelligence units.
    Making matters worse, many analysts say that the Pakistani intelligence services are riddled with agents who support the militants and their extremist agenda. Despite this, the Bush administration continues to shower Pakistan’s military and intelligence services with aid, even as Pakistan sinks further into chaos. Long-term U.S. strategy? None. Score: Monster, 100; Frankenstein, 0.”

Brooks, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center with experience traveling the world with such groups as the US Department of State, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA, carries the column from Pakistan to nearby Afghanistan and finally to the horror that is Iraq.

  • “Then there’s Iraq. Deaths are thankfully down somewhat, but the lack of political progress has left a tenuous, still-violent stalemate, sustainable only if U.S. troops remain indefinitely. On Tuesday, Iraq’s defense minister said Iraq couldn’t provide internal security until at least 2012 and wouldn’t be able to defend its borders until at least 2018.
    Iraq was supposed to be a beacon of peace, democracy and stability. Instead, it turned into a recruiting beacon for Islamic militants, a black hole for taxpayer dollars and a quagmire for our troops.”

And Brooks concludes:

  • “So here’s my proposal: Let’s join together to mark Frankenstein Month, a national period of reflection on foreign policy hubris and unintended consequences. President Bush has established National Mentoring Month, National Farm-City Week and Great Outdoors Month — so why not Frankenstein Month?
    Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein built his monster out of body parts pilfered from corpses, and the monsters created by our reckless foreign policies also reek of the charnel house. Of course, in Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein is tormented by guilt when he realizes what a horror he has unwittingly unleashed on the world, and he tries desperately to undo the damage he’s done. There might be some lessons here for the White House.”

Decider George ‘tormented by guilt’? As if… One wonders if Frankenstein/Decider George ever looks hard in the mirror at himself. Read Brooks’ entire column at A tidy, well-executed piece.

And so the legacy continues:

  • The Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) said the Taliban’s “easy departure” in 2001, when a US-led invasion drove them from power, was more of a strategic retreat than an actual military defeat.
    “A few years from now, 2007 will likely be looked back upon as the year in which the Taliban seriously rejoined the fight and the hopes of a rapid end to conflict were finally set aside by all but the most optimistic,” ANSO said., (1/19/08)
  • Violence left nearly 50 people dead in two major southern cities Friday when members of a shadowy, messianic cult attacked police and fellow Shiite worshippers — a year after a similar plot was foiled during Shiite Islam’s most important holiday.
    Iraqi authorities said at least 36 people were reported killed in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, and at least 10 in Nasiriyah, where witnesses said U.S.-led coalition jet fighters and helicopter gunships targeted a police station seized by cult gunmen.
    U.S. military spokesman Maj. Brad Leighton said an Iraqi request for air support in the area was approved, but he could not confirm whether airstrikes were carried out. Some clashes raged into the night, raising the possibility of more casualties.
    Associated Press, (1/18/08)

And this first-person piece about a Shia returning to her Baghdad home in a Sunni neighborhood:

  • “I realised then they were the second Sunni family to have lived in our house in the year since we left.
    At this point I looked at his wife – she looked ashamed. She told her husband to give me some money to help me out. He did so unwillingly – giving me less than 1% of what he should have done. He warned me not to come back.
    I walked back to the bridge that connects the two neighbourhoods. I was so preoccupied, I forgot to wait at the checkpoint. I was walking through when I heard an American soldier call out “taftish” (search) in bad Arabic.
    He searched me and I walked back into the Shia neighbourhood.
    The whole experience had been so surreal. I felt drained.”, (1/18/08)

Upon reading the entire account of this woman, one gets the dreaded sense Iraq is finished as a nation.

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