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The 800-pound Gorilla
February 7, 2002
by TrogL

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 killed.

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 look out.

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 the past.

"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 East.

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 of War.

The BBC reports that:

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman described Mr Bush's State of the Union address as "little short of a declaration of war".

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 approaches.

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.

You decide.

The writer lives in Canada.

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