Hear about a house down the lane where the dad isn't so nice to his kids. Gets drunk, hits them, all kinds of shit. Has a pet dog that he might one day unleash on your kids. No proof of the dog, the whole neighborhood asking for proof you say, "I don't need proof. I have a gun." Knock down his door, burn down his kitchen. And the guy's a fucker, don't get me wrong. He hits his kids: bad. He's a drunk and a dick. But I don't see a dog. Whole neighborhood watching, saying, "Didn't you say there was a dog?" Fuck that, I have a gun, burn down the bathroom. Guy's long gone.
So now you've got 600,000 hungry kids in the house with no kitchen and no bathroom, and they're starting to hit each other because that's what they do, and wander out into the street with baseball bats and guns of their own. And who knows which ones think the dad was awesome and which ones were waiting for you to show up. And now you've got some ideas about what to do, but they don't seem to involve kitchens or bathrooms, and when you leave you better have a fucking plan.
If you're the sheriff, you're the sheriff all the time. Stewardship, not possession, is the meaning of power. So basically, you just invited them over. To live. If your gun is big enough to kill their house, it's big enough to feed and house them in peacetime. And even if you don't agree: either way, if they don't have kitchens or bathrooms, they're coming over to your house. And you'd better be fucking ready.
Nate's at the next place, trying to smile, flipping through his phrasebook, avoiding their desperation, trying to appear both intimidating and not, at the same time. The American role on the global stage, destroyer and hero at once, is only realistic to Americans. But we try, one by one of us, the best and the worst of us, we try to be both at once: screwby. He's with a new guy, a random translator who appeared out of nowhere and offered his services. He tells Nate all they want are A) fresh water and B) statues of George Bush, to erect up and down the street in place of Saddam's, as soon as the Americans help them pump out the sewage. Evan laughs, because that's weird from like three directions at once. Translator explains to Nate: "They think Bush is a ruler like Saddam, they don't understand the idea of a president who maybe next year will go out." And listen, if you can explain the difference between American foreign policy in the last forty years and straight up laissez-faire colonialism, start by explaining it to me. Then Viet Nam, then Afghanistan, then this guy. Every generation has warriors, but not every decade gets an honest war.