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To All Our Friends Offshore
May 2, 2003
By punpirate

Lately, the United States seems to have developed a case of the bitter uglies. It seems to hate almost everyone except Great Britain, Australia, and a host of states hopeful for a handout, such as Eritrea. Our country, at the moment, seems to be in the grip of a profound national silliness. The cafeteria (part of the word for which is French) in Congress no longer sells French fries (which, if culinary history is correct, should have been called Belgian fries all along). Instead, it sells exactly the same food, but having now renamed them as "Freedom fries," many people in Congress, and elsewhere, somehow feel more like eating them, even though they are exactly the same thing.

Merchants pour French wine into the gutter, and miss an opportunity to bring culture and society to an army of drunks which has previously had to subsist on those utterly American but thoroughly unwholesome American brands, Thunderbird and Ripple. A certain right-wing anti-tax group known as the Club for Growth (truthful mention of the growth of what or whom is assiduously avoided) has taken to manipulating photographs so that attack ads on three members of the US Senate show these recalcitrant Republicans in the proximity of the French tricolor. In right-wing strategy sessions, this is thought to be subtle suggestion.

Most recently, the Snippy President tactic has been employed. Mr. Chretien of Canada is being denied the presence of Mr. Bush, because Bush aides have cancelled a proposed meeting between the two. Mr. Bush observes to Tom Brokaw of NBC News that, "Mr. Chirac won't be coming to the ranch anytime soon." Mr. Bush may be very fond of his former hog farm, but that does not mean that the rest of world nor its leaders are similarly awed by it (or Mr. Bush, for that matter), nor that any sentient person over the age of, say, nine does not see this particular petulance for what it is - the whining of a sore winner.

So, I shall attempt to explain what is going on in our country for the benefit of all our erstwhile and future friends beyond our borders. For over twenty years, a small group of men whom we now know as "neo-conservatives" have finally reached power in the US government. They are, for the most part, rabid ideologues who, had they been on the side of the Germans during WWII, probably would have been lower-level functionaries among the last of those convicted and hung by the Nuremberg courts. But, today, by virtue of a massive input of cash from a few wealthy industrialists, these quite insane men have come to control our government. Their mission is for our army and their multinational corporations to run the world. No, I do not exaggerate. Because I do not exaggerate, you are free to think that I am crazy, or alternatively, that they are. They write a lot more about what they want than I do, so it's easier to judge than one might think. They write a lot at think tanks named "The Project for the New American Century," "The Heritage Foundation," "The American Enterprise Institute," "The Progressive Policy Institute" and a quite silly place subversively named "The Club for Growth," and then have their views plastered on the eyeballs of editors everywhere by PR firms such as Benador & Associates. All very statuesque, positive names, and all devoted to one thing - ridding the United States of its social government, replacing its Department of State with its so-called Department of Defense, and returning our country to a time when most of its citizens were wage-slaves, and its fortunate few grew extraordinarily wealthy by using the Federal government and its army to their own ends. They also want to run the world, or did I already mention that?

These guys are - to use a favorite word from fifty years ago, understood by most everyone - nuts. But, they're nuts who are now in control of the government. They have told their friends in Congress to attack anyone who questions their judgment. They've left a few hints with their corporate friends in the media to have their correspondents and reporters and talk-show hosts froth at the mouth at any suggestion that, perhaps - just perhaps - the people at the top are nuts. Those mouth-frothing hosts then exhort their listeners and viewers to froth at the mouth at any similar suggestion, too.

Lot of people in the United States frothing at the mouth these days. To our friends offshore, we look a lot like Orwell's Animal Farm invaded by rabid dogs. Lots of frothing about the chops. One on the outside looking in could be forgiven for thinking that the entire country is certifiable.

And, yet, our country, despite being run by Flatlanders, hasn't yet fallen off the edge of the earth. In a strictly democratic sense, about half the people in this country who bother to vote are feeling more empathy with those beyond our borders than sympathy for our leaders and their shills. We don't hate France for disagreeing with our leaders (even if there was a certain amount of self-interest involved), nor Germany for doing the same. We're a little perplexed, however, by the Netherlands, which ought to know better than to trust such people as our leaders, but we don't hold it against them. We're certainly not attacking the British people, who dissented from their own leaders in numbers proportionally exceeding our own protests of the policies of ours.

The ordinary people in the United States who are still capable of thinking for themselves, capable of dissent, capable of seeing a pig in a poke of a war for what it is, want and need the support of the people of the rest of the world, but not for obvious reasons. We don't want it, as the Bush administration implies, for its version of democracy - we're having a tough enough time with that within our own borders, what with suppression of dissent and suspicious elections and some truly idiotic and ideological national representatives.

We need that support for the rest of us, not the current administration. We need that moral support to carry us through these times of internal trouble, these times of insanity which our current leaders have foisted upon us, first by praising moderation during the 2000 campaign, then stealing an election, then installing an accelerated right-wing program of world domination and the mechanism of an internal police state which would in its linguistic obfuscation have confounded even George Orwell. We're hoping that democracy, real democracy according to the best ideals of our Constitution, prevails and that we can overcome this hopefully temporary embarrassment.

The rest of the world needs to know that there are many Americans who think the Kyoto Protocols are a good thing, as are environmental and health protections for all, that clean water and food and education are inalienable human rights, that many Americans are worried about international trade agreements which favor corporations over sovereign rights, that the United States has the responsibility, the technical ability and the resources to make the world a better place for all, that there are organizations inside our borders wanting to do good outside our borders, that the failure of our enemies to uphold the Geneva conventions does not excuse our own failures in that regard, that we, like other sensible people in the world, know that war for exploitive purposes is never the solution to the desperation which breeds terrorism, that other peoples have the democratic right to decide what they conceive of as their best governance, that diplomacy is not a matter of petty threats, but rather, is the course of wise men in their own communal best interest.

As one of our citizens said recently, we're having a few technical difficulties with our democracy. To all our friends offshore, bear with us while we fix this problem.

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