Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ares the Klutz

Since I don't have one of those Outer Limits/David McCallum/"Sixth Finger"–episode gigantic light-bulb-shaped heads full of AD 1,000,000 brains, I don't trust my opinion all that much. So, I look to traditional wisdom. Much of that wisdom is contained in mythology, which are universally true stories of human nature, with the dross burned away by hundred or thousands of years of refinement.

Let's take Ares, the Greek god of war. He's not some real god out there somewhere; he's a story about human nature, and like all stories about human nature embodied in myth, it's meant to educate by entertaining.

Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, who didn't much like him. Small wonder, since he was a bully and a coward. Ares didn't hang out with any reputable people, either. His sister and constant companion was Eris, the goddess of strife. Also always tagging along with him were his sons Deimos ("fear") and Phobos ("terror"), and Enyo ("horror"), an old war-goddess.

All kinds of other unpleasant people followed Ares around – Pain, Panic, Famine, Oblivion. The only two animals associated with him are the vulture and the dog – both scavengers.

The Greeks in general didn't think much of Ares. He was only worshiped in Thracia, a region at that time known for its fierce people.

Not only was Ares a bully and a coward who delighted in war and slaughter, he was also a klutz. He kept getting wounded, after which he would run back to his father Zeus to get healed. He also lost all his battles; he never won.

He was such a klutz he was utterly incompetent. Heracles wounds Ares on two occasions, and once even stripped him of his weapons. On another occasion two giants chain him up and imprison him in a bronze vessel for 13 months. In the Iliad one of Odysseus's pals wounds him. The goddess Athena, which whom he was always at odds, whacks him in the head with a rock and knocks him cold.

What we have in this myth is some truly profound wisdom about wars. One thing it points out is that wars, contrary to the propaganda, are never truly won. If we look at just the 20th century, all the wars in it are not separate wars; they are chapters in the same war, with intermissions.

The U.S.'s unnecessary entrance into World War I led to World War II, which led to the Cold War. The Cold War led to Korea and Vietnam. World War II led to constant war in the Middle East. And the US's interference in the Middle East led to the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon. Now the US has "conquered" Afghanistan and Iraq and is involved in World War III. But...Ares loses all his battles; he never wins.

Ares' complete and utter incompetence is something which is not paid the attention it deserves. A friend once told me that wars are "won" by those who screw up the least. Those who are the least incompetent. All militaries are incompetent; some are just less incompetent than others.

We may cheer the way the US rolled over Iraq, but that's like me kicking a puppy. Now we're involved in a guerrilla war, which was predicted by everyone with half a brain. The U.S. doesn't have a clue how to handle the problem over there.

Then, of course, we have the propaganda about Saddam flying drones across the Atlantic, and the administration falling for forged documents about smuggled uranium, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (boy, am I tired of that phrase) that never existed in the first place.

What we have here is incompetence piled upon incompetence. This, unfortunately, is the nature of the State, militaries and war.

What else does this myth tell us? Ares is a bully and a coward. Now who today fits these characteristics?

Well, for one, the neocons. Here we have people who are intellectual bullies and physical cowards. They are great at running their mouths, but every one of them avoided military service. David Frum, for a good example, is great at abusing Taki in print, but I'd bet a lot of money that Frum would never say anything to him in person – especially if there were no witnesses.

It turns out the neocons' carefully crafted plans for U.S. domination of the world are already falling apart. We're losing about one soldier every two days in Iraq. Oh, yeah, those are some incompetent plans by a gaggle of cowardly, incompetent pseudo-intellectuals.

Then we have Dubya, who has engaged in one of the most bizarre transformations I've seen in my life. When he was asked what he thought if he lost the election, he said, "Life goes on." Now he's turned into a megalomaniac with a messiah complex, one who thinks God talks to him. He deserted the military for over a year, and now he's strutting around in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier, telling guerillas in Iraq to "bring it on," which is a contemptible comment from a man who tried his darndest to get out of his National Guard service.

The Thracians were the only Greeks who truly worshipped Ares. They're not around anymore. What happens when a country worships Ares? The Nazis (National Socialists) worshipped him, as did their blood brothers the Russian Communists (International Socialists). What came out of their clash was their extinction, and a gruesome battle at Stalingrad, in which more soldiers were killed than the US has lost in all of its wars combined.

Obviously, Hitler and Stalin, both Ares worshippers, were military incompetents.

Saddam Hussein was an Ares worshipper, and like all of them, was an incompetent military leader. That's why I never believed a thing said about him being a threat to the U.S.. I also smile when I think of the gigantic U.S. stripping him of his weapons and chaining him up, not for 13 months, but 11 years.

What is going on currently is that the U.S. administration, which has always been somewhat of an Ares-worshipper, is now trying to turn itself into a full-fledged empire. This would turn it into a complete Ares-worshipper, because only an Ares-worshipper can run an empire.

This is another figure that reminds me of Ares. In the Christian tradition it's Satan, another incompetent empire-builder. The question is raised (and looked at in a certain way, it's a little bit amusing): Bush claims he is a born-again Christian. However, since he's starting World War III, he's actually worshipping Ares. Or, maybe, someone else, whose greatest sin was Hubris, which invariably is followed by Nemesis.

No comments: