One of the interesting developments of the last few years is the enhanced homoeroticism of heterosexual guys. Straight college guys used to bond over football, beer, and fish stories of what they might have done with whatever "chick" they picked up the previous weekend. What made all of this "erotic" is that a lot of guys found that the primary pleasure of having sex with women was telling the "other guys" about it. It was the bond with their male friends that counted. As for the women involved, they were mostly thought of as sluts if they were remembered at all.
Now, the same kinds of college guys are taking the homoeroticism up several notches. No longer limiting themselves to the warm feelings of male companionship, they're simulating gay sex with each other when they aren't talking non-stop about masturbation or sharing porn stories. Movies are picking it up too. The recent hit Knocked Up has a scene where Ben responds to a phone call from a woman by simulating sex with his guy friends. Once again, the main point was the primacy of Ben's affective bond with the other guys with the sex serving as an affirmation of that bond.
I was reminded of simulated sex and homoeroticism more generally when I read today's New York Times op-ed by Michael O'Hanlon and Frederick Kagan. The whole article is about the manly bonds develop when liberal (O'Hanlon) and neo-conservative (Kaplan) foreign policy experts and discuss their deepest feelings about American military operations in Pakistan.
According to O'Hanlon and Kagan, it's necessary to send American troops to Pakistan now because the problem will be too big if Pakistan is allowed to collapse completely.
The task of stabilizing a collapsed Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies. Rule-of-thumb estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size. Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.
Even though O'Hanlan and Kagan start modestly enough by proposing an American special forces operation to secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons. But the excitement of planning another American intervention into a Muslim country is so exciting that they eventually go orgasmic.
First, O'Hanlon and Kagan deploy the "crack international troops" at their fingertips:
For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico; but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate. More likely, we would have to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.
Actually, neither the UN nor anyone else has international minutemen standing by their black helicopters waiting for orders that could bring them to Pakistan "within days of a decision to act." Consequently, the only way that this scheme makes sense is if one can imagine O'Hanlon and Kagan sharing the military fantasy in the same way that college guys go to strip clubs in groups or like to share Jenna Jameson sex toys. Even if they don't lead to orgasm, the sharing of military fantasies is a way for liberal and neo-conservative warmongers like these guys to bond together in a pleasurable and meaningful way.
But why let "crack international troops" have all the fun? Why not show the Pakistanis what real Americans are made of?
A second, broader option would involve supporting the core of the Pakistani armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of an ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership. This would require a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations.
Given that plausibility is not exactly high on O'Hanlon's and Kagan's list of priorities (exactly what Western powers or moderate Muslim nations would commit troops to this kind of operation?), one has to admit that they are deploying "a sizable combat force" mostly as a way to increase the pleasure of their partnership. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, in the final analysis, O'Hanlon and Kagan should be congratulated for their restraint. The logical endpoint for these kinds of military fantasies is the orgasmic spasm of wiping out large sections of the Pakistani population. But O'Hanlan and Kagan limit themselves to controlling the major Pakistani cities in a surge-like strategy of securing the center before moving out to the periphery. And I'm sure the authors believe that it's precisely that kind of self-discipline that distinguishes foreign policy professionals from Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, and other ideologues.
Foreign policy might be about sex, but pros like O'Hanlon and Kagan know how to stop before the whole thing blows up.
At least they think they know.