Tuesday, April 8, 2008


As General Shuck and Ambassador Jive hit congress again for more independent testimony, one thing is certain: given the right imagery, slogans and catch phrases, most Americans are dumb enough to buy anything.

Thirty years ago, after running the “Vietnamization” and the “Hearts and Minds” campaigns, we finally capped two decades of involvement in Vietnam, 55 thousand Americans and 3 million Vietnamese dead, by hitting on “Peace with Honor.” I was never sure where the honor was in that cluster fuck of refugees storming the embassy as escape choppers flew off the roof, but I guess “you fucked up, you trusted us” and “premature evacuation” didn’t cut it. 

In the five plus years since they first rolled out this product, via celebrity spokesperson Colin Powell, we’ve had “mission accomplished,” the “war on terror,” escalations as “surges,” (we’re suckers for the phallic shit) removing added troops as “reductions,” and now a decrease in death redefined as “stability.” (In reality, there is no “war on terror.” What the president has been waging, and it’s clear if you listen closely to that shitkicker accent is a “War on Terra.” As in a war on the earth. I’ve never quite gotten the disdain Republicans have for things that are alive. Is it a genetic pre-disposition or a learned behavior?)

At the end of the day, the solution in Iraq is not military. It’s not political. It’s promotional. We just need to get the boys in advertising to start kicking around some concepts. Maybe take the down and dirty P and G approach. Something like “New and Improved Iraq! Now with 20% Less Death!”

Or maybe a softer sell, centered around a TV spot, with a one-year-old child taking its first awkward steps as the proud parents grab the video camera. Then dissolve to a montage of the Iraqi parliament, a few open air markets, a soccer game, a school in session, and then bring in the voice over: “Iraq. Taking its first steps as a young Democracy.”

Or perhaps what’s needed is a PR campaign, employing another popular American myth. Just put out a press release stating that Iraq is going into rehab. “After years of battling inner demons, the country has finally admitted it has a problem, is courageously dealing with it, and therefore requests privacy at this difficult time.” This way we can pull out all the troops, as well as legitimate journalists, and send the paparazzi over to cover it. (Who wouldn’t like to see a few of them over there instead of here?) A few months later, Iraq can re-enter the world community via Larry King, tearfully admitting that while they will always have the desire to kill each other, they are now ready to take not killing each other one day at a time.

Eventually this long national nightmare will end. And the troops will come home. And CNN will run a loop of soldiers getting off planes on tarmacs and running into the arms of loved ones for tearful reunions. There will be local parades, visits to the White House for the traditional awarding of the medals, both live and posthumous. (Who doesn’t love a good posthumous medal?) There will be waving flags and beating drums and a Super Bowl halftime tribute. Just give us our symbols and our slogans and we’ll be happy. Meanwhile, it won’t matter what’s really going on over there. What matters is what we’re told is going on over there, and that it’s no longer any of our concern. If we’re told it’s over, then it’s over. The one thing we know how to do in this country is move on. We just need to be sold properly.

Maybe just hire Larry the Cable Guy as the spokesperson for bringing the troops home. “Iraq: We Got-R-Done!” Shit, this thing would be over in a week. 


Brian Scully said...

This reminds me of an old joke about Vietnam... I think I heard it on "The Smothers Brothers Show", but I'm not sure.

Anyway, the setup was "What's the quickest way to end the Vietnam War?"

And the punchline was: "Put in on ABC and it'll be gone in 13 weeks."

P.S. I really enjoy your blog, Ian. Damn good writing.

IBG said...

I remember that joke. Thanks for writing. And reading.