Jewish World Review May 12, 2004/ 21 Iyar, 5764

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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The Mouse that Roared | I feel as if I am in a Peter Sellers movie. Let's recap political unrest in the world, all the fault of the U.S., with most of the blame resting at the feet of defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld this week. Condi Rice blame fever has passed. Whilst minding our own capitalistic business one fine day in September 2001, members of a radical faction of a Middle Eastern religion slammed planes into several of our buildings, killing about 3,000 and maiming others.

So that Halliburton could have more work, Dick Cheney could earn bonuses while serving as VP, and we could get more oil so that gas prices would climb to $2 per gallon, we took military action in Afghanistan to wipe out the boot camps and leaders of the plane-flying radicals. Bad, evil Americans, ousting the kindhearted Taliban. To compensate and make nice, we dropped food and supplies into Afghanistan. Complaints arose because the peanut butter in some of the food kits was not a Middle Eastern favorite. We apologized.

To give the Democrats some form of a platform on which to run a candidate for president who has the charisma of a ferret and obtain more oil to drive gas prices even higher, the U.S. invaded Iraq. We bombed a bit, ousted a murderous dictator, and, feeling guilty, built schools, improved the water supply, and brought electricity to areas it had never gone before. We apologized to the French and Germans for giving the contracts for rebuilding to U.S. firms.

As we rebuilt Iraq, radicals bombed cars carrying civilian engineers and then carted their charred bodies through the streets, hanging a few, for better visual effects, from a bridge. Liberals demanded a withdrawal and apology for the mess we had made. Surreal. Selleresque.

The Peter Sellers movie, based on Leonard Wibberley's brilliant satire of 1954, The Mouse That Roared, has come true.. Wibberley's plot? The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny nation "in a precipitous fold of the northern Alps" that is facing revenue shortfalls, decides that the best way to solve its fiscal problems is to invade the United States. Duchess Gloriana and her Prime Minister, the Count of Mountjoy (Peter Sellers plays both roles in the movie), understand "that there are few more profitable undertakings for a country in need of money than to declare war on the United States and be defeated. Hardly an acre of land is forfeited in such wars. . . . it is usually decided that the nation and people which lose to the United States shall be made to suffer national and individual hardship for the aggression. And the ink is no sooner dry on such agreements than the United States is rushing food, machinery, clothing, money, building materials and technical aid for the relief of its former foes."

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So, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick sends its pitiful band of brothers of an army down Broadway in New York and captures a bomb. The United States apologizes to Grand Fenwick and the world for developing the bomb and creating a temptation that invited invasion. Grand Fenwick becomes the beneficiary of American largess.

This past week we learned that renegade U.S. soldiers taunted some of the Iraqi radicals taken prisoner and, like all morons, snapped Kodak moments of themselves engaged in cruel acts. The liberals, the U.N., and terrorists with CNN all demanded an apology. Can the trial lawyers be far from the Iraqi prison? When the Rev. Jesse Jackson rolls in, reparations will flow.

Consumed with guilt, Mr. Bush, the leader of the free world, groveled before Jordan and even tried to woo Al-Jazeerah TV. He promised investigations and discipline and took Rummy to the woodshed. If he'd released photos of that . . . Beautiful!

The hyperbole surrounding these isolated acts is comical. John Kerry asserts that neither the soldiers' conduct nor Mr. Bush's failure to know of the problems and investigation would happen if he were commander in chief. This from a man who explained to the Wall Street Journal editorial board this past week that he didn't realize he was using the phrase "Benedict Arnold companies" to describe U.S. companies involved in labor outsourcing. He blamed his overzealous speechwriters. What, he didn't notice the words as he read them?

We are beyond satire. Mr. Bush has been so obsequious that he risks his credibility. bin Laden must be sitting in a cave somewhere high-fiveing his band of brothers for getting exactly what they want: breaking our resolve.

Lost in all the rhetoric and outrage is that these abuses were uncovered as they should have been in any organization in which there are isolated pockets of misdeeds — through self-investigation and reporting. Perhaps the Pentagon brass could have let the prez in on the deal, but there's no cover-up, only condemnation and swift action.

So, Grand Fenwick felled the World Trade Center and we apologize, we rebuild, and we grovel. Fifty years later and political satire is reality. History repeats itself, or at least satire does. This hand wringing over isolated prisoner abuse dismisses proportionality and perspective. Oh, for leadership that corrects abusive conduct but does not fail to remind the world who started all of this and who's paying for the restoration of Grand Fenwick.. Oh, for a leader who acts like the wronged party who has always taken the high road. Just ask the wealthy Fenwickians.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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