Jewish World Review August 12, 2002 / 4 Elul, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Rummy's monkey | There was a rather unusual item in the New York Times this summer, concerning Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's advance team, and the problems they have encountered preparing the world for the glory of his personal appearance. Some of these obstacles would challenge a Mission Imposible team. For instance, in preparation for an appearance at the Indian Defense Ministry in New Delhi, one of his advance men was "attacked by one of 10,000 rhesus monkeys… that live in the government compound and adjacent forest."

So the challenge facing Team Rumsfeld? Well, you don't want a highly visible government spokesman being swarmed by nasty monkeys when he's trying to deliver a soundbite, now do you? This was definitely a heads up situation. To use the latest journalistic cliché, the monkeys would have trumped Rummy.

We here in the West might question the wisdom of India setting the Defense Ministry offices in the neighborhood of 10,000 aggressive monkeys, especially in today's troubled times, especially when India has nuclear weapons. Monkeys have thumbs, don't they?

But what can you do? And what could Team Rumsfeld do? They couldn't just call in an air strike. The sight of missiles and heavy caliber bullets ripping into the flesh of funny monkeys would probably not endear us in the eyes of the world.

Many proposals were set forth, slapping together sticks, symbols, and making loud noises with sidearms, but eventually, an Indian government official had the right idea: "get a bigger monkey."

A more imposing langur monkey was brought in, "paraded on a leash," and the more wussy rhesus monkeys, fearing reprisal no doubt, kept their distance. Mr. Rumsfeld said whatever it was that needed to be said, no nuclear weapons were discharged, no further allegations of corporate misconduct were revealed, as far as I know, and America stumbled one step farther towards the finish line in its war on terrorism, or whatever the hell it is we're doing.

Reading this story, I was reminded of the old riddle, "where does a two ton gorilla sleep?" "Anywhere he wants to."

Well, this could apply to America of course, and this seems to be President Bush's policy in a nutshell, but then again, monkeys aren't gorillas-- that's a misconception-and a cat can bring down a bridge, a mouse can remove a thorn from a lion's paw, and an army of piranha can strip a cow to bone in minutes.

But we wouldn't know anything about that. We're experts, not carnivores. We spin. We take meetings. We don't leap on people's heads, shrieking hideously, interrupting press conferences. We're a big monkey sure, a gorilla even perhaps, but shrieking hideously and leaping nervously from branch to branch, well, that's just not our style. That's just not the way you do things. We issue reports. We cc people. We shred appropriate documents.

We're a long away form monkeys pal, okay?

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales