What could President Obama learn from reading Steinbeck's accounts?
I think an important cultural lesson we've learned since then: You've got guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and they're not being blamed for not finding weapons of mass destruction, you know, it's not their fault. These are the people who just carry out the will of the higher-ups. One of Steinbeck's greatest lines about the military is back to his World War II book [1942's The Moon is Down], when the Nazis can't understand why [their military occupation] is not working, one of their lieutenants sort of loses it and yells at his commanding officer, "The flies have conquered the flypaper." And I think that's what I would like for Obama to envision as he lingers in Afghanistan. Here we are; the flies have conquered the flypaper.