The Late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau likened
Canada's proximity to the United States to "living next to
an elephant. You pay attention when it rolls over."
Those were the good old days. These days that analogy isn't
nearly nasty enough. I had considered entitling this article
'King Kong'. However, King Kong came off as a rather sympathetic
and misunderstood figure, trapped atop the Empire State Building
(or in the 1976 movie, the Twin Towers, so let's not go there)
harried to death by ant-like figures.
How about "the 800-pound gorilla".
We've all seen tribes of gorillas on nature shows like National
Geographic. Everyone is sitting quietly pretty much minding
their own business. Suddenly one gorilla, the big ugly one,
the Alpha male, jumps up, starts bellowing and pounding his
chest, then charges shrieking into battle, trampling everything
in his way. A few cuffs to the offending tribe-mate, usually
a smaller male, then everything is back to normal, until the
next time. Sometimes it's not a few cuffs - somebody gets
That's how America is seen internationally.
America wants what it wants, when it wants it and will do
anything to get it. Anybody standing in the way had better
George W. Bush thinks he's an Alpha male and that he speaks
for America, the Alpha male of countries. He's just finished
thumping his chest and bellowing away, grouping Iran, Iraq
and North Korea together as an "Axis of evil". He's gone into
Afghanistan, wreaking carnage and havoc, accomplishing very
little (most of his targets had long since fled, and bin Laden
is nowhere to be found). Now he's growling at other countries,
saying "play by my rules, or you're next".
This, in in my view, is what happened in Afghanistan. Bush
Inc. said "let us lay our pipeline or else!" Bin laden retaliated
with the attacks of Sept. 11th. Alpha male Bush, perceiving
a challenge to his authority, invaded.
Bush says it's a "war on terrorism". An article
at Common Dreams notes the remarks of Noam Chomsky addressing
the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
He questioned the US government's moral right to undertake
such a war when Washington itself is guilty of promoting and
implementing terrorism internationally on many occasions in
"If one looked at the official definition of terrorism,
it would be identical to the official definition of US foreign
policy," Chomsky said to wild cheers from the audience.
The current campaign against terrorism, he pointed out,
is being run by US officials who in the mid-1980s were themselves
responsible for running an international campaign of terrorism
against leftist-run countries in Latin America and the Middle
In our tribe of gorillas, the Alpha male once again tries
to exert his power, but other gorillas rise up against him
and drive him from the tribe.
Bush is rapidly losing face in the international community.
Tony Blair faces opposition at home. The Canadian Parliament
has been preoccupied with the treatment of Afghan Prisoners
The BBC reports
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman described Mr
Bush's State of the Union address as "little short of a declaration
In a statement from the foreign ministry, Pyongyang said
Washington's recent problems were "entirely attributable to
the unilateral and self-opinionated foreign policy, political
immaturity and moral leprosy of the Bush administration".
South Korea would prefer talks to continue with the North
and Iran has been the subject of recent British diplomatic
The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has said Britain
will continue its dialogue with reformists in Iran, while
sending what he called "strong messages" to hard-line elements
within the government.
The European Union also has a policy of engagement with
the authorities in Tehran, which the BBC's Middle East analyst
Roger Hardy says they have no intention of abandoning.
King Kong, midunderstood, besieged by an angry world, or
the 800-pound gorilla, lord of the forest through threats,
intimidation, violence and death.
The writer lives in Canada.