Eric Alterman Asks a Rhetorical Question


Glaukon: What are you reading?

Admetos: William the Silent--a biography of a sixteenth century Dutch prince and politician. What are you reading?

Glaukon: The Assassin's Gate--an account of America's ongoing misadventure in Iraq.

Admetos: They are both works of politico-military history, but other than that these books must be about very different things, yes?

Glaukon: No.

Admetos: No?

Glaukon: Our big-headed friend would say that they are about the same thing.

Admetos: He would?

Glaukon: Let me put it this way: Your book is about how the world's preeminent superpower sends the most powerful conventional military force the world had ever seen to occupy and reform a distant land. But the alien occupiers find themselves in a hostile land riddled with violent religious sectarians. The occupiers do not speak the language or understand the politics. Powerful local neighbors make lots of trouble. And the situation spirals downward. Right?

Admetos: You have it. That's what my book is about.

Glaukon: And that's what my book is about.