One of the pleasures of my life as a young man was watching the original Star Trek. I especially enjoyed the episodes in which Captain Kirk, after giving an impassioned speech about “freedom,” would proceed to blow up a planet’s ruling computer, thus bringing the aforementioned freedom to an enslaved people.

And just to make sure that the transition was a relatively smooth one, Starfleet would assign a team to said planet, to watch over and guide the natives. I was always delighted at this point. Yes, freedom was just what these good folks needed.


Yet now, being an American of a liberal persuasion, such endings to an adventure leave me unsatisfied, and yearning for a more realistic solution.

On Trek, A planet’s population is suddenly cut off from their link to authority, an authority which taught them how to dress, eat, grow their crops, and raise their families, and a preening starship captain stands before them, telling them how lucky they are. And then he leaves, leaving havoc in his wake, while a “transition team” quietly goes mad from the sheer immenseness of the task before them.


As the last combat troops pulled out of Iraq last week, thought about Star Trek, and Captain Kirk in particular. I thought about a misguided war – yes, longer than our involvement in World War II – and reflected on the changes that we brought to Iraq.

We blew up the ruling computer, and destroyed their utilities.


We deposed the Mekon (sorry – that’s a Dan Dare reference, not Star Trek, but you get the general idea) and in his place you get s a whole bunch of folks who are going around blowing folks up.

We got rid of the weak Imperial Senate (yeah, Star Wars) and in its place is a weak government.

In a few years it may be difficult to explain to folks exactly what we accomplished in Iraq. Even today, it’s difficult to explain to many Iraqis.

James T. Kirk had the advantage of a starship powered by warp drive engines; he could be parsecs away before the aftermath of the regime changes he had helped bring about could begin. And, thanks to network television, he took the audience with him. We never had to think about what happened next.


Well, now we do. And we owe it to both ourselves and the Iraqi people to watch what happens next. And the next time an administration eager to flex some muscle decides to invade another nation, we have both the right and the responsibility to demand that they have a plan ready for implementation after the shooting stops, if it ever does.


In the meantime, back at the Afghanistan Ranch

Meanwhile, the war Afghanistan may go on longer than World War I and World War II combined.

Quote of the Day

The nice thing about egotists is that they don’t talk about other people. – Lucille S.. Harper