FF145 - The Devil's Own

Intro by John Roderick

My role on the Friendly Fire podcast requires that I be prepared to speak authoritatively on matters historical, political and military across a great scope of time, culture and conflict. It should be apparent to longtime listeners that despite a critical commentary success rate of close to 95% I am often wildly speculating from a geopolitical education I got from looking for pictures of boobs in Time magazine during the Carter administration.

My understanding of strategy and tactics is derived largely from running thousands of possible assault-and-defense scenarios of both fixed-positions and fluid-battlefield environments in the long running conflict between G.I. Joe and the Cobra commander. Much later I cut my diplomatic teeth arguing in favor of Pax Americana with keffiyeh-clad West German undergraduates on a bus from Cádiz to Albufeira. When I say that my role on Friendly Fire requires it, what I mean is that it doesn't strictly require it, I just talk that way, which is to say authoritatively, from the hip, with scant-supporting evidence and a great reluctance to be wrong.

My co-hosts were - and are - too busy larping their fanfic about Captain Picard's body-grooming to interrupt me or even be listening to me, so I run unchecked like a stallion of mostly-rightness. I frequently come in for criticism from nerds and wankers who should start their own podcasts if they know so much more than I do about Black Hawk Down. Sure, I whine a little bit at not being appreciated by everyone universally, but it has never inhibited me in the slightest from assuming everything is understandable and that I mostly understand it.

Now, the Irish troubles arguably started in 1968, the year I was born, and ended in 1998, the year that Celebrity Skin by Hole was released, so just based on my education above described, I should be able to lay it on really thick here - and I could - but something has changed in me recently and certain of these generation-spanning sectarian conflicts that pitted brother against brother and Sneetch against Sneetch, dragging on full of teenage-passion and wanton-violence and terrible cuisine on both sides and 10.000 slurred conversation-interrupting Pop-ballads and ultimately the worst parts of Boston and Tripoli and God and the old triangle, and then petered out in a series of exhausted and reluctant handshakes between middle-aged men as though: ”Oh, never mind all that, then!” exhaust me to think about because these petite wars and causes and keffiyehs as an AK-47s raised high all felt very important and may be dumb, but maybe not, and to have them confirmed as mostly dumb, then by the transitive principle it makes everything seem dumb, not because there weren't plenty of justifications and injustifications for the three decades of street-fighting in Ireland, just as there are plenty of justifications for every instance where people start throwing bottles at each other, and pretty soon those bottles are full of gasoline mixed with detergent, it is that fighting is dumb, ultimately, and that is a depressingly obvious conclusion that I don't want to be true.

I don't want fighting to be dumb! I want it to be noble and virtuous and necessary, because throughout my life I have fallen for it. The pomp and the harrumphing and giant unfurled maps: I have fallen for it hook, line and sinker over and over, and not just the little wars like the Irish troubles, where this group of red heads for that group of red heads over who gets to rent which flat, but the big conflicts, the ones that required battleships and cavalry charges and hat feathers and P-47 Thunderbolts.

I have fallen for it my whole life - we all have - because it is so loud and cool and definitive and it reduces everything down to engineering and logistics and it feels stern and important and right, but it is nonsense. Fighting is dumb! And when it seems like there is nothing to do but fight, when you have exhausted all avenues and your opponents are beyond reasoning with and only war can put a stop to their crimes and silence their lives by turning them into corpses and burying them with their stupid ideas forever, it only means that one day, if they don't bury you with your ideas, you will get tired of fighting and conclude it all with a reluctant handshake and all the differences of opinion will still be sitting there like puppies where you left them, and all the sunken battleships are still leaking bunker-oil on the floor of the Pacific, while overhead a steady stream of 777s are flying bluefin-tuna from Newfoundland to Tokyo and the boys in the NYPD choir are singing Galway Bay. ”Don't look for happy endings! It is not an American story, it is an Irish one.” On today's Friendly Fire: The Devil's Own.

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