Political cartoonists can be overly broad & annoying, purveyors of lame jokes shoehorned into demonstrations of Conventional Wisdom that fail both to be remotely humorous and to make a point that your south end couldn’t trump after a burrito with extra beans. Ted Rall is one of the few that on occasion accomplishes more, aiming his pencil right at many absurdities the US ruling class inflicts on us (and, most importantly, the world), party be damned.
…which is why I was disappointed to read in his interview at Salon, after making an important comment about military embedded “journalists” and their reporting ending up lopsided rah-rah propaganda claptrap for empire, the following stinker about the continuing Afghanistan occupation (all emphasis mine):
Yeah, I am worried. I think it’s important when you’re a journalist to report the uncomfortable truths that go against your own ideology. I don’t think we ever should have been in Afghanistan to begin with, but now that there have been so many improvements — there are fewer dropped calls in Kabul than there are in New York City, for examples — you really kind of hesitate to see that go.
Quality of phone service. Seriously. To use that as your example of benefit with a straight face, in light of the revelation of the communications of the entire country being Hoovered up by the NSA and used for drone strikes, seems like the kind of thing a caricature in one of his drawings would do.
A skeptic of the war to begin with, Ted Rall goes on to practically melt at Infrastructure, speaking of the glory of the almighty Roads & fearing that all will fall apart without Uncle Sam around to hold it together. Bullets and bombs make great glue, see…
[Infrastructure] really has a huge psychological impact. The idea that people in Harat can go to Kabul and back and forth… They know about each other now. They have more of a sense of nationhood, which had vanished during 26 years of war, and is now in danger. If all that stuff gets blown up again, aside from obviously all the human carnage, there’s also going to be a tremendous national trauma that is impossible to measure and that you’d just hate to see.
Think about the implication here: Rall portrays the occupation as having unified a splintered people (and reduced dropped calls!), yet fears that it’s unsustainable without US forces. If true, that would mean that his tale of cultural uplift in the ashes of imperialism is only about enduring a common enemy, thus nothing to shout about at all. A unity that requires a bigger beast in the area to worry about is illusion, mere alliance of convenience like when the total jerk in the zombie movie joins forces with an all-too-innocent survivor. Though, even if the shift is more permanent than he thinks, there’s still the question of why he thinks that the US has and should continue such role.
In the same interview, observation of how actual Afghans see the foreigners currently taking up residence by force somehow pairs with an idealism that ignores it all. Seeing the occupation force less as a military & more like a transnational paternal authority reads like an insult, and one that all the network stability in the world can’t make up for.