Of sheep, wolves, sheepdog... and asses.

I’m sure I was not alone in exasperation when Barack Obama called Iraq a “distraction” and said Afghanistan is where we really ought to have been focusing our attention the whole time. Internally I felt like rolling my eyes, giving an impatient sigh, and turning to the recalcitrant child and saying, “Yes, you’re right, there’s nothing stopping you from going to the park now that we’ve finished cleaning the house.”

The stark difference between Obama and Sen. John McCain called to mind an essay I saw a few years back and bears re-presenting in the context of Election 2008. That is, LTC Dave Grossman’s (Ret.) excellent piece on sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.(From his book On Combat)

I recommend reading the whole piece, but for those unfamiliar with the tri-chotomy I’ll give a brief overview. The wolves are those few people in our midst who are willing and able to accomplish violence against their fellows and will do so for predatory and selfish reasons. They do not love their fellow man and will do whatever it takes to get their way. The sheep are those upon whom the wolves prey. They generally abhor violence and frequently deny that wolves exist. This is very convenient for the wolves. The sheepdog are those who look more like wolves than like sheep, have a capacity for violence, and love their fellow man, or at least love the tranquility of justice enough that their penchant for violence is restricted to defending peace and justice. This means doing violence to wolves and protecting the sheep — even when the sheep don’t realize what’s going on or, too frequently, wish the sheepdog didn’t exist.Some choice quotes:

…the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.” Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog. The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Their [the sheep’s] only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain.* [Sound like any group of politicos we’re opposed by?] But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, “Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?” It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up. [And show up he shall] Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn’t bring your gun, you didn’t train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear helplessness and horror at your moment of truth. Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: “…denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling.” Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level. And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

(All emphases mine)

I propose that Senator Obama and his “lose Iraq, lose now” Democrat colleagues are something akin to, but worse than, sheep. They are sheep cross-bred with (not simply by way of party symbolism, though that is a happy coincidence) asses. They are more insidious and unhelpful than sheep. They combine the timidity of sheep with the stubbornness of the ass and the predatory nature of the wolves. They know — or at least have the capacity to find out — exactly the threats we face, but are dishonest about them with the American people. When those threats do present themselves they deny their gravity precisely so that the sheep will “feel more comfortable” with them, rather than with the sheepdogs who have, in fact, kept the sheep safe for these many years. They prey on the desire of the masses of sheep not to be disturbed by the sheepdog, so they flash enough teeth to make the sheep feel safe, while steadfastly insisting that the amount of teeth they’ve flashed is all that is necessary to scare away the wolves (that really aren’t there anyhow). They deny that the measures of violence meted out by the sheepdog are or were necessary, but then praise the wildly successful efforts of the sheepdog and act as though they were supportive of the sheepdog all along (but really hope the sheepdog won’t do it again). Their unwisdom is only surpassed by their lust for power. If I thought they were insightful enough to do all of this intentionally I would consider them the most wretched pieces of filth ever to soil the air with their respiration. But I believe they are simply so wrapped up in their own selves and their own lust for power that they don’t think in such terms. They are innocent of committing any grave evils on this score because they lack, I believe, malicious intent. Such is the psychology of narcissism.

But we are still faced with the prospect that one of these narcissistic ass sheep may be elected President, while many of his braying-bleating colleagues will retain their positions of power in the legislature.

The alternative, of course, is a tried and true sheepdog. One of the most sheepdoggy-est sheepdogs we’ve had.

I do hope we are all doing all we can to convince the sheep that they need a sheepdog.