The war in Iraq has become a lodge activity for a secret society.
The only person I know well who has gone there still seems to support it. With his level of security clearance, he says, "if you knew what I know, you'd know we're doing the right thing." But of course what he knows is classified, so he can't give any details.
Once in a while someone else who has served over there will say things are much better than portrayed in the media. But we hear many more reports that the insurgency is getting stronger. Historians dig up all our past quagmires to point out the eerie similarities. I remember the mixed messages broadcast during the Vietnam war. It doesn't sound good.
The only way to find out for sure would be to join up and go over, but then you're under contract to carry out the program yourself.
Meanwhile, the quagmire deepens. Did Marines really massacre civilians? The insurgents include people who have already demonstrated that they will spill the blood of their own when necessary to make a point. But frustrated fighting men will lose control. Most of us weren't there. We can't know for sure. It doesn't sound good.
If we pack up and pull out it will instantly demonstrate what may eventually prove to be true anyway: keep fighting us and we will eventually have to leave. The fact that we'd be leaving rather than destroy the place will be lost on the jubilant opposition.
World War II was the last straight-up, toe-to-toe slugfest in our history. We could pound our enemies with everything we had, while they did the same to us. At the end we dropped the biggest hammer the human race had on Japan. Slam dunk. Shock and awe. We are the champions.
Every war since then has been limited, unsatisfying, and usually unsuccessful. Limits don't suit the American psyche. We like to get things done and settled. But when we're fighting for intellectual concepts and our opponents are fighting for deeper ideology a lot of us would have trouble showing up for work with the same energy as the forces on the other side. We'd look for another approach rather than continue the same endless, vicious combat day after day, war without end, amen.
Pride and the fear of appearing weak will keep us there until we can think of a better excuse than "I think I hear my Mom calling me."
The secret society can describe it how they like. They're not obliged to reveal all that goes on in the lodge.