War and What's Not?
by The Rt. Hon. Sir Festus K. Mountebank, OBE, WAN, KAN, OBI
As President Bush's hair-rousing declaration of an all-out
war against the hitherto-unknown 'Axis of Dr. Evil' trickled
through my trusty 1938 Marconi XP 10-valve vacuum tube wireless
last week, I came this close to transmogrifying myself. I
was at home on my rambling Sussex country estate at the time,
in the laundry closet with the door closed and firmly locked
to be specific, helping dear old loyal Mrs. Beasley pressing
and ironing against my fox-hunting togs.
"Just when we thought we'd never again see almighty America
declare a real, true old-fashioned war on three fronts on
three so disparate nations simultaneously, they have," I cried
exultingly. "Let's do hope for all our sakes they get it right
this time. And give us one that will carry the name proudly."
Because, let's face it, since that blasted Viet Nam fiasco,
there haven't been any more what you might call 'real wars,'
That was such a nasty piece of work, a total cock-up from
start to finish. And if - which I very much doubt - future
generations take time to look back and wonder what the heck
the fighting was about, all they'll come up with are admittedly-breathtaking
shots of helicopters flying-in low over beaches to the strains
of Beethoven's Fifth (or was it the Brandenburg Gate Concerto),
incomprehensible interviews with stoned-out-of-their-brains
reluctant conscripts in impenetrable jungles and pontificating
talking-heads telling them the war was lost because the nation
didn't want to see the evening news stuffed every night with
film of body bags being shipped on- and off- giant C-140 Starlifters.
But we who lived - and saw - through the lying presidents,
generals and secretaries of defense and state, witnessed the
agonising self-chastisement and imprisoning - and occasional
shootings - of otherwise artful and able-bodied draft dodgers
and students, we knew these weren't the real reasons why the
much-stronger side took such a savage beating and eventually
had to perform a humiliating evacuation of the ambassador
from his roof. It was because they shouldn't bloody-well have
been there in the first place.
As Prussian general and co-founder of Hertha BSC, Willi von
Clausewitz so rightly said, "Unless you're stuck with a mad
dictator at the helm, sleep on it, then think twice and if
you still aren't sure, stay well enough at home."
But his wise tactical advice is so rarely heeded.
Sadly, that Ho Chi Minh - formerly Saigon - City debacle
has had such a deleterious effect on how large superpowers
with advanced night-vision goggle technology conduct wars
nowadays. So much so that whole generations of Baby Boomers
think they've been involved in wars, that frankly, just aren't.
In my opinion - and I've lived through every one since 1914
- you can only legitimately call it a war if you have an opponent
roughly of the same size and strength - or, preferably, slightly
weaker - and you're prepared to lose elegant-memorials-full
of good men and women.
Take that so-called Desert Storm war. True, it prised Saddam
Hussein out of Kuwait - another good example of someone not
being where he should've - but for the rest it was much dropping
of tons of miscellaneous flak on a rag-tag band of scattering
And this latest skirmish? They keep talking about a superb
victory and how easy it was. My God, woman - I told Mrs. Beasly
- if we blanket-bombed Scotland for three weeks from 30,000ft
and had the Glasgow Celtic forces behind us - no matter how
rag-tag and disorganised - we'd be uplifting burkas in Inverness
inside days too.
So call me an old fuddy-duddy if you like - go-on, out loud,
I don't mind - but if there is going to be a 'Big One' let's
make damn sure it's genuine. I never thought I'd get to experience
the sheer thrill of another in my lifetime and now it's about
to happen I can barely contain myself. Or Mr. Beasley.
Of course, there'll have to be a few changes made. Cut the
cloth to fit the wind. You can't go on living, as Phil Collins
and Marilyn Martin put it so adeptly - separate - lives without
making a few concessions. You can't just, as the president
himself said, 'return to normality' flitting from one ethnic
food stall to another at the mall, or popping corn at the
Cineplex or paying $50 to stand all afternoon in line at Disneyland.
A real war means sugar, petrol and clothing rationing, like
we had overcoming the Hun. And no candy or chocolate. Candles
at night and a Lord Beaverbrook-type collecting old kettles
and pans to melt-down to make helmets, battleships, tanks
and heavy artillery.
There'll be a dusk to dawn curfew, which isn't as bad as
it sounds, especially if Mr. Beasley gets called-up as a warden
in Dad's Army working nights during the blackout.
And, yes, sorry to say, stuffed body bags. By the planeload.
So do Rumsfeld and Co. really have the bollocks for a real
war against North Korea, Iraq and Iran?
Without the full unwavering support of NATO, the Christian
Coalition, Arthur Anderson, the new Enron board, Fox News,
the International Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball,
Amnesty International, Denmark and Canada and the North American
Free Trade Association? And when they waken-up and see the
gleaming presidential golden chalice perhaps in 2004, but
for sure in 2008, the Democratic Party, too?
I very much doubt it, but as von Clausewitz also said, "true
war means never giving up hope and having to say you're sorry."
Next Week: Stern-faced, permanently-livid and hopping-quite-mad
US Attorney-General John Ashcroft warns Roman Catholic titular
heads to reverse their 2,000 year-old deviant habit of exposing
however-beautifully-proportioned nude statues to tiny tots
in Vatican cathedrals and artefact-sales grottos. Or else.
Causing a very high cardinal in a lace cassock and purple
surplice to react angrily by releasing rare fireside-surveillance
footage of J. Edgar Hoover wearing satin pointe shoes, a frilly
nylon tutu and Clyde Tolson.
Rear Admiral (Rtd) Sir Festus, is Chairman and CEO of 'All
Jane's Ships, Shirts, Skirts, Shorts and Shags.' He was caught
speaking on-the-cuff during the United Nations' lavish 'All-You-Can-Eat-and-Drink
for $6.75' Buffet at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during
last week's World Economic Forum. If, like Jane, you feel
like reaching-out to Sir_Festus@cariaccess.com
to embrace his notions, well, nothing's stopping you.