Notes: This strip -- set against the background of U.S. military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan -- has the sort of dialogue I most like coming from Weez -- absurd but provocative -- Da Allie G. show in comix. Sometimes I just like to have fun and wander around in a comic strip like an improvisational jazz muscian while making a point.

I had originally written the column below for the strip. On re-examination, however, the explanation the cartoon itself is much too linear. A dialogue with a reader who takes the screen name of Holden Caulfield, a character in J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye," has made me realize this. All of this has made me remember what Bob Dylan once said to a reporter who asked him the meaning of his songs: "They don't mean nothing." On re-evalutation -- thanks to Mr. Caulfield -- I think that the original column actually detracts from the provocative absurdity of the comic strip. I'm going to leave the column up to remind myself not to try to breed linear meaning into Thadeus & Weez. It does explain the strip, but it's best enjoyed playfully. Now here's the column I first wrote:

This week's strip utilizes satiric irony to address the issue of how far can the American military be stretched, and how far do we want it to be stretched. Do we really want to be occupiers? Does the United States really want or need an empire? It also has fun with George W. Bush's black-and-white statement that you're either with us or against us which doesn't work well in the subtle and tricky arena of international diplomacy where multiple shades of gray are necessary.

The American military performed brilliantly in its quick victories in Afghanistan and Iraq. If my memory is correct, Donald Rumsfeld didn't want a lengthy presence in either country. I don't often agree with Mr. I-am-alpha-male Rumsfeld, but he may be right on this one.

While one can argue that it would be irresponsible to pull out of either country before they are up and running, I'm uncomfortable with putting American troops in the demoralizing position of being sitting ducks for local guerrilla tactics such as sniping and ambushes. At this writing there have been 90 post-war deaths in Iraq compared to 102 deaths during the war. There is a similar story in Afghanistan with guerrilla attacks on the American military and foreign aid workers.

There are few things that anger a local population more than an occupying army. It's all animal territorial stuff with the indigenous population being annoyed at being ordered around by foreign troops.

Rumsfeld is a big advocate of a smaller military and there have been cut-backs. Occupations require manpower. Already in Iraq, the expected troop rotations are not taking place since there are no replacement troops to rotate in. At least some of the military in Iraq is not happy about staying there for months more when they had expected to come home.

There is a similar story in Afghanistan with guerrilla attacks on foreigners.

We won the war, but can we win the peace -- in either country. Let's hope so.