On One’s Mouth Writing Checks One’s Ass Can’t Cash

Generally, I’m not much for metaphors. But “this CSIS report”:http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/080305-murdock-nuclearmission.pdf reminded me of the saying contained in the title of this post, though perhaps “writing checks one’s ass _won’t_ cash” would be a bit more on the mark.

Specifically, I’m talking about the argument that Bush I officials should never have acknowledged the hollowness of veiled U.S. threats before the 1991 Persian Gulf War to use nuclear weapons in response to Iraqi chemical weapons use. The report states:

bq. Whatever the utility of this U.S. nuclear threat…, it was undermined by the memoirs of the senior policymakers involved. President George H.W. Bush and General Brent Scowcroft wrote in their memoirs that they had no intention of using nuclear weapons during that operation. JCS chairman Colin Powell, when asked by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney about nuclear options, stated: “Let’s not even think about nukes. You know we’re not going to let the genie lose.” It’s hard to make credible threats when you tell the world (including future adversaries) that you were bluffing the last time you made one.

I think the real problem is that the threats weren’t credible, not that people later acknowledged this lack of credibility.

This same attitude toward the truth also reminded me of one of the best exchanges from “Jackie Brown”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119396/:

Ordell Robbie: Goddamn…You told them all that?

Jackie Brown: Its true, ain’t it?

Ordell Robbie: What the fuck that got to do with anything?

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