Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 3/28/07

Artist's Statement

Note from Ms. C.-H.: I make update maintaining and reorganize all the Web site. You are invited please to see the revised archives, books, letters, friends, and pages of enemies, as well as of new pages for writings and photographs. (Please moreover to note the new version of the cartoon"Support Our Troops Paraphernalia" for April 27 of 2005, which Mr. Kreider has for reasons obscure of his private drawn again.) I hope that you the readers will be satisfied with these improvements. -C.-H.

I will be appearing on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning show this Thursday,* from eleven to noon Eastern Standard Time, speaking on the subject of war cartoons. No idea what I will have to say on this subject. The last intelligent thing I had to say about Iraq was: maybe we shouldn’t invade it. I knew it would be a disaster, even though I didn't have access to the same highly classified false intelligence that the Bush administration did. I knew it because I know how even very modest plans usually work out in the real world. Think about how you've gone out to run a few easy errands, like pick up a library book and buy some razors and cat litter, and how unexpected little inconveniences inevitably conspire to thwart even those not exactly hubristic goals. Also, I've watched a lot of Stanley Kubrick films, which, if they taught me nothing else, taught me that nothing ever goes as planned. Never forget the Fool's Motto: "Nothing is Foolproof."

But nobody listened to me, and now look. The Democrats have voted for a March 2008 deadline for withdrawal, apparently assuming we'll have everything pretty much tidied up over there by then. But our Commander-in-Chief is going to veto that bullshit; he’s going to get the situation under control with this "surge" of 20,000 more troops. The cartoon that best epitomizes our current situation, and our political leaders’ response to it, is the old Shel Silverstein cartoon of two guys shackled by their wrists to a dungeon wall, hanging about fourteen feet off the ground, with one tiny barred slit of a window high overhead. One of them is whispering to the other: "Now here’s my plan…"

Once again, I will quote Matt Taibbi at some length, because he’s right about everything and too good to edit. He begins here by paraphrasing/mocking columnist Thomas Friedman:

In other words, both Vietnam and Iraq failed not because they were stupid, vicious occupations of culturally alien populations that despised our very presence and were willing to sacrifice scads of their own lives to send us home. No, the problem was that we didn't make an effort to "re-evaluate tax and spending policies" and "shift resources" into an "all-out" war effort.

The notion that our problem in Iraq is a resource deficit is pure, unadulterated madness. Our enemies don't have airplanes or armor. They are fighting us with garage-door openers and fifty year-old artillery shells, sneaking around barefoot in the middle of the night around to plant roadside bombs. Anytime anyone dares oppose us in the daylight, we vaporize them practically from space using weapons that cost more than the annual budgets of most Arab countries to design. We outnumber the active combatants on the other side by at least five to one. This year, we will spend more on the military than the rest of the world combined -- more than six hundred billion dollars. And yet Tom Friedman thinks the problem in Iraq is that we ordinary Americans didn't tighten our belts enough to support the war effort.

(Perceptive readers will not that Panel #2 is inspired by (stolen from) this passage, for which I thank Matt.)

There is one time-honored way to win a war of occupation, as Edward Luttwak, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained in a recent article for Harper’s [], which is to behave like Hittites, committing mass executions of insurgents and their families and eradicating whole towns to make examples of them and deter anybody else from ever even considering joining the resistance. Which we aren’t willing to do because a.) we are civilized nation and b.) it would make us look bad.**

I take it as a foregone conclusion that the war is lost, as does almost everybody who actually knows what they're talking about. Only George Bush and his most intimate and deluded henchmen in the bunker are still issuing official promises of victory. But now I'm afraid we're going to have to listen to exactly the same dumb gullible assholes who supported this war angrily explain to us liberals why it's our fault we lost it for the nexxt fifty years. We'll read it in labored, stentorian newspaper columns by blowhards transcribing Republican talking points like a kid copying his report out of the World Book; in ponderous, vapid tomes written by impressively credentialed hacks paid by right-wing think thanks; and, most dreadfully, we'll hear it from every surly, Fox-watching redneck shithead slumped over his Bud who still doesn't understand how his country turned into just another bankrupt has-been empire.

So the only thing I have to say about Iraq now is the one thing nobody wants to hear: that there is no solution. Iraq is a Kobyashi Maru, a no-win situation, a test of character that we are all failing. It was not just a strategic mistake but an international crime and, if you believe in this sort of thing, an irredeemable mortal sin. I don’t even know how I’m going to be able to discuss the situation on the radio without using words like shitstorm and clusterfuck. And one reason it’s impossible for politicians of either party to say this is that to do so would imply two ghastly, unfaceable admissions: that all those lives were wasted for nothing, and that nobody has any idea what to do now.

But there’s another, more important reason the Democrats aren’t going to yank the troops out of there anytime soon, which is that we can't. The whole point of the invasion was to get the oil. The world runs on oil, see. And the problem is, the oil is running out. World leaders understand this—I’m sure Mr. Cheney has explained it to George--and the major players are now scrambling to position themselves for what promises to be an ugly and savage every-man-for-himself-type brawl over the dwindling energy resources as industrial civilization implodes. The Russians have enough oil and natural gas to maintain their current stylish standard of living for another thousand years. Don’t you worry about the Russians. The wily Chinese are forging better alliances in Asia and Africa than we’ve ever had, and are also whistling and looking innocent while building a modern army that is probably not exclusively for rescuing stranded hikers. Our main thing these days, of course, America's equivalent of Belgian ale or those big cigars they make in Andorra, is having the most terrible military machine in the history of the world. So our best play is to use that to try to take over the Middle East, where there is lots and lots of oil, but, inconveneintly, everybody hates our guts. We (along with the British) have secured the contracts to Iraq’s oil (previously held by the Russians and French—ha ha, suckers!), but if the flimsy little government we’ve propped up there collapses later on in the same afternoon we pull out, only to be replaced by some batshit fervid-eyed mullah crying Death to the Great Satan, then it’s like it was all for nothing. And the thing is, we kind of have to have the oil. We really need it. Seriously. We wouldn’t even have invaded if we didn’t need it so bad. Like, okay, just listen: today, for example, we have to get home from work, which in rush hour traffic takes like an hour and a half, and pick up the kids from lacrosse practice and cello lessons, and stop off at Pizza Hut on the way, and oh right also get the fucking cat back from the vet’s. So I mean you see how it is. That’s like five gallons right there, and that shit is not free. Just please let us have all the oil and we’ll go home, okay? Deal?

By the way: turns out Captain America isn't dead after all. He's in critical condition and the Avengers are keeping his survival a secret to protect him and find out who did it. What a cheap rip-off. Back in the days of weekly cliffhanger movie serials, kids called this kind of deceptive escape a "cheat," and it was justly despised. Fuck it: Marvel's forfeited the moral right (although, as I'm ssure I will sooon learn, probably not technically the legal rights) to Cap. He belongs to us now. We are all Captain America.


*I've been bumped to either next Thursday or Friday for the hearings on Alberto "The Torturer" Gonales. It'll be worth it if they end up sacking that little Nazi shyster. I will announce the new time here.

**Reasons not necessarily listed in order of priority.

BACK TO The Pain Homepage

Webmaster's Disclaimer