Orbiting Dicta

Coming Clean

In a pivotal moment of Julius Caesar, as Marc Antony mulls over his plans, he utters one of the most memorable lines in the Bard’s long list:


All pity chok’d with custom of fell deeds:

And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge.

With Ate by his side come hot from hell,

Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice

Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war…..

            (Julius Caesar, III, i, 269)


As India and Pakistan try to pull back from the brink of mutual destruction, and African nations contemplate invading Zimbabwe to oust Robert Mugabe, it is worth mulling over the aftermath of such slipping.  As Antony found out to his chagrin and eventual demise, it not easy to recall those dogs once they are off the leash. 


To watch George Bush and now Condoleezza Rice at last follow Colin Powell in admitting that the Administration acted without adequate intelligence (ironic choice of language) in declaring war on Iraq is hardly less painful after more than 4,000 American deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths and the wholesale destruction of a once-prosperous nation. 


Eight years later, the dogs of war are still out there, feasting on the legacy of lies and duplicity.  Most ironically of all, the vast expenditure of national treasure deflected to prevent the destabilization of the Middle East has resulted in the greatest destabilization of the Middle East in the last fifty years, not to say playing out in the collapse of the US economy.  These dogs of war sported a trillion dollar price tag, in case no one noticed.  (The scary issue of war profiteering has yet to arise in any significant way.  Does anyone really care where all that money went?  The Romans had a term for that too: cui bono?)


Rice nevertheless insists that historical hindsight will reveal that toppling Saddam Hussein, a lame-duck dictator if one ever existed, was a “great strategic victory.”  Chances are future historians will regard it as the greatest military and diplomatic blunder of the early twenty-first century.  And only time will tell whether Barack Obama and his team can develop the art of “dog whispering” before the situation at home and abroad deteriorates even further.