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Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2001 / 28 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Michael Kelly

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"Good evening, and welcome to 'All Is Lost ...'" -- "Good evening, and welcome to 'All Is Lost,' the nightly public affairs program produced by National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. Tonight we discuss what has been called America's war against terror. I am your host, Perfectly Modulated Voice of Reason.

"With me, in our Washington studio, are: Fabled Newsman Who Was There When Saigon Fell . . . Scientifically Trained Impartial Scholar . . . and Bureau Chief of Second-Rate Regional Monopoly Newspaper Who Is Desperate to Be Hired by the New York Times. From London, we are joined by our European affairs analyst, Loathes America and Prays for Its Swift Destruction.

"First, today's war news. Tens of thousands of Afghans in liberated Kabul greeted President George W. Bush with wild cheers and much waving of American flags. The mayor of Kabul, in a traditional gesture of welcome, presented President Bush with the head of Osama bin Laden on a pike. Accepting the gaily decorated head, Mr. Bush quipped: 'This shall not stand -- at least not without this handy pike!' Meanwhile, across the Middle East, news of the so-called allied victory in Afghanistan appeared to be producing remarkable changes in the political dynamic. Radical Islamic fundamentalism, as Western critics perhaps unfairly call it, seemed under attack. . . .

"In Iran, tens of thousands of men lined up at barber shops for shaves and Western-style haircuts, with the majority favoring the 'mullet' look, which is popular, we are informed, with young men in some American regions where we have actually never been. . . . In Iraq, President Saddam Hussein remained for the fifth day under siege in his summer palace as hundreds of thousands of students gathered outside chanted, 'Hey hey, ho ho, the Great and Maximum Leader for Life has got to go.' . . .

"The governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait pledged today to develop armies sufficient to protect themselves without American assistance, pointing out that it was wrong to ask the United States to shoulder the burden of defending their wholly corrupt oligarchies. In Israel, newly appointed tourism minister Yasser Arafat announced a new policy of 'peace at any cost.' Saying 'I must have been meshugenah,' Arafat declared: 'Of course, Jerusalem must be the capital of the Jewish homeland, any fool can see that.'

"Gentleman, given all this, the question is obvious -- Is there any reason to even go on?"

Chorus: "No . . . no . . . utterly hopeless . . . doomed . . . repudiation of entire U.S. strategy. . . . A colossal failure . . . no hope."

Perfectly Modulated: "Scientifically Trained, why doomed?"

Scientifically Trained: "Well, it is important to put all this into context. In the Islamic world, things are never what they seem. As the great Hashemite warrior Abdullah the Less Than Brilliant expressed it, 'The victory of my enemy is my victory.' This is how this week's events will be seen in what I like to call the Arab street -- as a prelude and a catalyst to a great uprising against American interests, led by an entire new generation of martyrs inspired to jihad by U.S. belligerence."

Perfectly Modulated: "Fabled Newsman, what says the view from inside the Beltway?"

Fabled Newsman: "Been there. Best and brightest. Tet. Vietnamization. No light at the end of the tunnel."

Perfectly Modulated: "And would you go so far as to say . . . "

Fabled Newsman: "Yes. Absolutely: Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Quagmire. Waist deep in the Big Muddy. Quagmire."

Perfectly Modulated: "Desperate to be Hired by The Times, what's your take?"

Desperate to be Hired: "Whatever Fabled Newsman said goes double for me. With bells on. You bet. Count me in. Ditto."

Perfectly Modulated: "Now let's go to our European analyst, Loathes America, for the insight from over there. Loathes, what is the mood of Europe tonight?"

Loathes America: "Bleak, of course. And properly so. I mean, one does not wish to say that this debacle is what America deserves for its arrogance, its vulgarity, its bullying ways -- well, actually one does wish to say it, doesn't one rather? Really, one just hates America. Really, one always has, ever since one was just a little chap."

Perfectly Modulated: "Thank you, Loathes America. A valuable insight as always. Gentlemen, last thoughts?"

Scientifically Trained: "Things could hardly be worse."

Loathes America: "Nonsense. That Pollyanna optimism so typical of you naive colonials. Things could always be worse. And will be. Thank G-d."

Fabled Newsman: "Quag . . . "

Desperate: " . . . mire."

Perfectly Modulated: "And that wraps up another edition of 'All Is Lost.' Good night, and pleasant dreams."

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