We've talked a lot about war coming home as one of noir culture's causes. I thought about this reading Donald Rumsfeld's remarks yesterday as he stepped down from his position of Secretary of Defense. The Los Angeles Times article today has him saying this:
A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power. It may well be comforting to some to consider graceful exits from the agonies and, indeed, the ugliness of combat, but the enemy thinks differently.
Even if you're one of the O'Reilly Factor fans who thinks that the Iraq war went bad only because of media nay-sayers, the logic here should interest you. Rumsfeld acknowledges the war has become an agony. But any exit would comfort "the enemy," which is unnamed and unchanging - remember Mike Hammer's "nameless ones who kill people for the Great Whatzit." This is true even of "graceful" exits. What does graceful mean for Rumsfeld? Exiting after negotiation? Some form of agreement after which "enemies" smile and shake hands?
Noir goodbyes are always a kind of curse. They say, "I am the war god, and the rule of force. You embraced me, and then you fired me, because you are too weak to stick with the Way of Force. And now, without me, the enemy Force will destroy you."
Oh well. Goodbye anyway, Mr. Rumsfeld.