I couldn’t get my car to start the other day. I had somewhere to be and for the life of me, I couldn’t get the damned thing to turn over.
I was desperate and absolutely beside myself. I went up and down the street, begging each one of my neighbors in turn for help. Many of them shrugged, most told me to fix it myself, and a couple cast a sideways glance at the big house down at the end of the street.
At long last, I found myself at Sam’s door with my hat in my hands. The big Texan reluctantly answered in rattlesnake boots and a ten-gallon cowboy hat. Over his shoulder he carried the biggest hammer I had ever seen. It gleamed like the sun and must have weighed twenty-five pounds if it was an once.
I knew he would have it with him. He never went anywhere without it.
“Sam, buddy, I really, really, really need your help,” I said. “My car won’t start -- today of all days -- and I’m at the end of my rope…”
“Nope,” Sam said, cutting me off with a spit of tobacco juice on my shoe. “I ain’t your buddy and you don’t want my help.”
“No, really I do!” I reassured him, swallowing my pride and trying to ignore the stink of wintergreen on my foot. “I’ll do anything!”
Sam shrugged and followed me back to the car. On the way, I described the sound it had been making the day before and I told him all the things I had tried this morning. He stared at the engine for a moment or two before swinging that big beautiful hammer over his head and bringing it down on my engine block.
He wailed on my car for a good five minutes without tiring. No matter how I begged and pleaded, he just wouldn’t stop. Bits of plastic and broken glass flew this way and that. My tears disappeared into a slowly expanding puddle of radiator fluid.
“Why? Why? Why?” I cried. My vision was blurred so badly that I could barely see his wife-beater t-shirt that I had in my fists.
“You asked me to,” Sam said with a shrug.
The truth is, Sam isn’t a guy at all. That 250 pound Texan is the United States, and that hammer is the world’s biggest military.
The military may be a tool, but it doesn’t fix anything. That’s not what it’s for.
Oh sure, it’s chased Adolph Hitler from France and Sadam Husein out of Kuwait, but those were special cases. Both France and Kuwait had their shit together long before they were invaded. Once they had their countries back, they had no lasting problems getting things back to normal.
But what about the rest of the Middle East? What about Afganistan, Iraq, Syra, and who knows where else. Yemen? Somalia, or perhaps?
Most of the world is broken, the US included. We hear you asking for help. We understand your desperation. We do! And we wish we could.
But how do you plan to pick up all the pieces once we finish smashing things to bits? Do you really want the sort of help we have to give?