America, the neighbourhood gendarme
Better than Vichy French, Putin's Kreplakistan and communist China
March 12, 2003
I know there's a war on and things but I'm concentrating on the positives.
I recently bought a bag of fair-trade, organic coffee - don't tell me that didn't
help. If charity pamphlets are accurate, it will have irrigated an African province
and built a district sanatorium. That's if the struggling, revolutionary, non-aligned
local officials didn't pocket the money. (I was recently reminded of Winnie Mandela
by a yukka puree I tried. Yukka is like potato, only tough and it made me vomit.
I imagine Winnie stirring a pot of boiling yukka now she's not an international statesman,
enjoying the plaudits of Soweto goons).
I had to fight my way through a million-strong anti-war march to get to one of Barcelona's
Oxfam shops to help my dear, adopted third world. "No a la Guerra," the
pram-pushing mob shouted, not just here but across Europe.
European leaders take note, the message is clear: people are swayed, manipulated
and misinformed collectively. I assume the housewives or 'madonna studies' graduates
attending these marches are unfamiliar with the history of dictatorships, vile Arab
nationalism or Saddam and his Gulag regime.
But who cares about history? "No to War" sounds good. It's a short sentence
and suggests a whole lot of goodness and concern. A simpleton stumbling onto the
news these days might excusably think that there is a country, Iraq, minding its
own business, and along come these wicked people called the Bush Administration,
who simply "want" war. They have a fondness for warmongering.
Or one might be led to believe that there is a "diplomatic" crisis, a question
of methods, a misunderstanding perhaps, which may be resolved "diplomatically",
but that Bush, who wants all the power and oil, is charging at it like a cowboy.
And were it not for the heroes of the hour, the Vichy French, Putin's Kreplakistan,
communist China and various Euro-socialist parties who never, ever play politics
but are simply concerned, who knows where we would be now?
As for the people of Iraq, all they want is peace ("Give Peace a Chance",
says the Nana Mouskouri song), like people in London, Paris or Madrid. Their peace
is a trifle more interesting of course, jazzed up a little by Saddam and the Gestapo,
but that's what they want for decades more, or as long as they are lucky enough not
to be interfered with by those rotten Americans.
I pontificate to digest my food. Last week I ate a deep-fried chicken dish. Now the
saturated fat and my conservative views are clogging up my arteries -- with guilt.
Aside pontificating, my improving Spanish permits me to make a hesitant start at
complaints and arguments in shops and cafes.
I complained when the waiter recently took my Herald Tribune at a local cafe
Art and Shilling. He must have dumped it into the food remains, because it came back
with the edges soggy. Kim Jong Il's face was gnarled by cabbage soup. What fun! I
deprived the waiter of the tip he knew he wasn't going to get. He looked like an
anti-war type anyway: bleached hair, dreadlocks, nose/ear rings - a right little
Very little cheers me up when I have financial problems.
I have sought in vain to supplement my meagre wages. (I work in a Dickensian soup
kitchen, 14 hours a day, serving a watery broth to sooty orphans who operate an enormous,
vaporous engine, one of several that run the British Empire. One of them, one Oliver,
asked for more consommé with garlic croutons the other day with the paltry
excuse that it was Christmas or some such humbug. "More?" I asked, then
sang a song and had him beaten -- to nurture in him a sense of gratitude. No, just
kidding, I'm a freelance translator, more freelance than translator, and I haven't
had a consommé since the last power-lunch with my friend Mimi -- Madame Chiang-Kai
Chek to you.) But even in my state of genteel poverty, I am concerned for the world:
international affairs are my daily soap opera (beside a Venezuelan telenovela called
Secreto del Amor -- The secret of Love -- where the characters cry much and
slap one another).
As the French author Henry de Montherlant said of his idle, over-politicised character
Don Celestino: La planete etait son affaire -- The planet is my business.
Let me have a go: the [privatised] trains would run on time and we would see the
end of nuclear energy, that plague nobody wants if only they would bother asking
If mankind were grateful for the endless blessings God gives us, from the beach to
bicycles, baklava, chocolate cake, digestion etc... we would hardly bother with nuclear
power. Only atheists want nuclear power.
Equally absurd are the "human shields" heading
for Iraq. Some are returning, surprised the Iraqi government does not want them to
shield orphanages or hospitals but refineries, petrochemical plants, that type of
thing... Well I'm surprised, so surprised. One of the shields, a Catalan teenager
the White House should have consulted before planning its petrodollar-war, said,
"we're doing this for the Iraqi people." Imagine the Iraqi people's gratitude.
To the peace marchers, I say with my habitual, good-natured respect, go back to your
spliffs, ecstasy pills and scrubbing the kitchen floor. You didn't bother demonstrating
when Saddam gassed the Kurds, when he invaded Iran, or when Taliban decapitated women
etc. So don't bother now. Your anti-American sentiments are nothing but stinking
left-over socialist piffle.
"You can't have the Americans going around changing regimes," I was told
recently. Yes you can: thank goodness for the neighbourhood gendarme.
Does this article have spelling or other mistakes? Tell
me to fix it.