CNN was interviewing someone named Mike Baker who was identified as "a former CIA covert operations officer." The interview was about the United States beginning to fly surveillance missions over Syria, as a prelude to bombing ISIS positions. The problem with Mike Baker was that he looked like he'd come out of central casting. He had a chiseled face and the spiky gelled hair of a seasoned actor in the kind of movies where Navy Seals successfully emerge with grateful hostages.
If only the footage from Iraq and Syria had been outtakes from some film where everything worked out happily ever after. Mike Baker was as unreal as the footage was real. But the question is how someone like Baker was ever a covert operative. His appearance which was about as covert as the name of the company he was identified as running -- Diligence. If I were ISIS and I saw him on the street, he'd be a goner. He looked and talked with such poise and confidence that you wondered if he actually had done a stint in Hollywood before joining the CIA or created his role at the Actor's Studio.
Everything was rational including his point that something more would be required than bombing to root ISIS out of Syria. And what would that something be perchance? Troops on the ground? Another private contractor named Blackwater had run into their fair share of problems for murdering civilians in Iraq ("Blackwater Shootings, 'Murder,' Iraq says," NYT, 10/8/07) but maybe Diligence LLC could provide that extra something in a more constrained and humane way. You could just imagine Mike Baker in his camouflage outfit, his face blackened with grease leading his team out of a chopper. You could see them disappearing into the smoldering remnants of some ancient civilization ISIS had just destroyed, like, say, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.