Via Dowd's The Springs of Fate
When Mars rushes into Achilles' soul in his battle with Hector, as Alexander Pope wrote in his translation of Homer's "Iliad," "the springs of fate snap every lock tight."
But Barbara Tuchman, in her book "The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam," observes that while the Trojans reject advice to keep that dagnab nag, as Rummy might put it, out of the walled city, "the feasible alternative -- that of destroying the Horse -- is always open."
Cassandra and others warned them. (The always ignored Cassandra is left out of the movie, but she must have sensed that was coming.)
"Notwithstanding the frequent references in the epic to the fall of Troy being ordained, it was not fate but free choice that took the Horse within the walls," Ms. Tuchman writes. " `Fate' as a character in legend represents the fulfillment of man's expectation of himself."
A State Department official noted last week that if any of the Bush hawks had read Ms. Tuchman's dissection of war follies, her warning about leaders who get an "addiction to the counterproductive," they might have been less rash.
"The folly" in Vietnam, she writes, "consisted not in pursuit of a goal in ignorance of the obstacles but in persistence in the pursuit despite accumulating evidence that the goal was unattainable, and the effect disproportionate to the American interest and eventually damaging to American society, reputation and disposable power in the world."
The Bush team, working on divine right, doesn't bother checking human precedent.
Nevertheless, the team moves with absolute certainty.
As Ms. Tuchman notes, wooden heads are as dangerous as wooden horses: "Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs."
President Bush's Achilles' heel is his fear of wimpiness, and Dick Cheney and Rummy played on that, making him think he had to go to war once the war machine was revved up, or he would lose face and no longer be "The Man."
Maybe the president and vice president will catch "Troy" on their planes as they jet around to fund-raisers. But the antiwar message will probably be lost, except on the official who is both a snubbed Cassandra and a sulking Achilles, Colin Powell. "Wooden-headedness," Ms. Tuchman said, "is also the refusal to benefit from experience."
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