A nation of experts

Here’s one thing Americans can boast about. Everybody is an expert here.

Look at the Iraq situation, for instance. We are all experts in this. From politicians on down.

We have politicians who don’t know a gun battery from an Eveready. Or a troop surge from a blue serge. Yet they tell us what we absolutely must do in the streets of Bagdhad. Sure, they get extra reports on what is going on there. But I doubt whether they see any more than the average American can see with a little digging.

Even state and local politicians chime in. The President needs to do this. He must stop doing that. The President is an idiot!

Most of these pols have not served on so much as an armed services committee. Few if any have been in a uniform since Scouts. They have, amongst them, more training in channel surfing than military matters.

And even if they have some training, how does it make them experts? I served on 11 Navy ships, on the staff of a commodore. Am I an expert in naval warfare? Right. My knowledge there is second only to my knowledge of brain surgery. Uh, let’s snip that little blood vessel there. Ooops. Was that his ear that fell on the floor?

Doesn’t matter. The pols troop before the cameras with demands for timetables for withdrawing our troops. Dear enemy: Thought you’d want to know what our plans are. They know how many troops we should have there. Or not have there. They know how and where they should be deployed. And what kind of vehicles and weapons they need. Or don’t.

They know what sorts of demands we must make of the Iraqis. And what we should demand of the Syrians and Iranians.

Our columnists and tv’s bobbing heads are authorities too. They deliver messages like “The President’s biggest mistakes in Iraq.” “How to extract ourselves from the Iraq disaster.”

And they sound so absolutely certain they are right! I guess you learn to do that when you go to expert school.

TV guys who get to question the President or Vice-President (Or Rummy before they declared him a failure.) sound like the experts who teach the other experts. “Mr. President, how can we expect to make progress in Iraq if... (We don’t do what I’ve been telling my viewers we should do?)?”

There are those who support what the President has been doing. There are critics, too, of course. More critics than supporters. But all experts.

My guess is that most of our experts know zippo when it comes to the history of the regions involved. They know nothing of the factions who fight. They wouldn’t know a Sunni from a Shiite from an Amway salesman. They know five minutes worth of the history of the religions involved.

My further guess is that few of our experts know diddly-squat about the history of warfare. Types of warfare over the centuries.

An additional guess is that our experts knowledge of diplomacy would fit into a thimble. Its history. Its failures and successes.

Few of them have read much about presidents and war. The fact that wars that go on for long are usually unpopular. And that the presidents have taken the blast from the public. From the experts who lived back then. And believe me, there were plenty of them. Being an expert is an American tradition. It used to be a requirement to become a citizen. You had to tell the authorities you were an expert.

I imagine the guys who came on the Mayflower all knew better ways to sail that ship. And told the captain so. And as soon as they landed they, every one of them, probably had advice for the Indians on how to grow that plant they called maize. “And wait til I tell them what to do with them turkey birds that run around here. Maw’s got the best stuffing recipe this side of the English Channel.”

From politicians to car designers to cabbies, college profs to college janitors. From publishers to columnists to paper boys. We are a nation of experts. And you can take that to the bank.

From Tom... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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