A Subliminal War

The Average Possum Could Do It Better

Yesterday I sat on the stump in the front yard and tried to figure out the War on Terrorism. It was hard going. It didn't seem like there was a war.

Of course, I've been wrong about the War before. When those camel molesters dropped the buildings in New York, I didn't think the funny little countries over there would let us fly over them so's we could bomb Afghanistan. Was I ever wrong. Maybe I can work at the State Department.

Those Bush fellers can do some coalitions. I have to give'em that. I reckon if you left George I or W. on an uninhabited planet, a week later he'd have a seventeen-nation coalition. The family cat could probably get half a dozen. I notice we sure are starting to have a lot of presidents from that family. Maybe they'll start one of those dynasty things like that Egyptian guy Two Ton Kamen did, or maybe didn't. Another Bush or two and we can start a Hedge.

Anyway, after New York, we had a huge uproar, like when the Baptists held their picnic on top of the yellow jackets' nest. Everybody was patriotic for a week and stuck little flags everywhere. They didn't join the army, though. I guess they forgot. They probably figured that when Afghanistan found out we all had little flags on our radio antennas, they'd give up. That's what usually happens.

So Mr. Bush said we were going to have a War on Terrorism, and catch Bin Laden, and smack the terrorists upside the head, which they must have expected because they were already wearing bandages. (One ol' boy from North Fork thought Bush said War on Tourism, and figured it meant he could shoot yuppies from Washington.) Anyway, America was on the war path. Look out A-rabs. Like somebody said, when your leaders are named Bush, Dick, and Colin, somebody's going to get screwed.

I can't figure out what happened to the war. Best I can tell, we didn't catch Bin Laden. Maybe we decided we didn't want him. I don't. Most likely he's water-skiing at Tahoe.

We dropped bombs on Al Qaeda, and probably on Mrs. Qaeda and all the little Qaedas, so Al just took them all to Pakistan to live until we went away and they could come back.

Then we were going to destroy the Axes of Evil. I puzzled on that. If I thought Evil had an ax, I'd get my deer gun and shoot him from a hundred yards, and keep the ax to cut firewood. But I'm simple.

We haven't done that either. All the axes look like they're still there. None of'em got religion, or took the pledge, or started beating the drum down at the Salvation Army. They look about as evil as they ever did.

It's a pretty funny war. It seems like nobody's fighting it, except a few Marines and some of those army guys with those green hats that look like melted watermelons. Nobody much knows about it. Mostly the war ain't even in the newspaper unless it's a slow day for football.

The other afternoon I went down to Red's Bar to talk about the war to try to understand it. Red used to be in the Marines so he knows lots.

It was dark inside. That big old purple-and-green jukebox was singing about divorce and train wrecks and the TV babbled like somebody's crazy relative that the state hospital wouldn't take. Red was polishing glasses. He's built like a beer truck, and has a tattoo that ways "USMC' with a picture of an eagle sitting on the world, like it was waiting to see if it would hatch.

"Red, how come we don't smack them Arabs?"

"Can't. Bud?"

"Yeah. How come?"

"Nothin' to smack'em with. Wanna glass?"

"I usually don't drink beer with a straw. Why can't we smack'em?"

"Can't. I saw it on the satellite last night. Eighty percent of the US of Army is unwed mothers and the rest is queers."

"Naw. Can't be."

"Would TV lie?"

He had a point.

"It was on 20-20, this special about some Armored Stroller Battalion and this daycare platoon didn't have enough pacifiers. Said it was national emergency."

"Red, you're lying again."

He looked embarrassed. "Yeah. Not by nearly enough, though."

Then he said, "See, we got a two-army system now. There's a little bitty good army, the Marines and the Airborne and Rangers and some others, and a great big pretend army, and some airplanes. So Bush has to figure out how to do everything with airplanes and a little bitty army. That's hard. You see those new bass lures Jake Scoggins got?"

"Yeah. I heard he caught a five-pounder down at Deep Creek Lake. Don't change the subject on me. Why don't we just put a bounty on ragheads? They look like Q-Tips."

"Can't. Seven-Eleven wouldn't last a week. 'Sides, we gotta suck up to'em or they won't let us bomb Afghanistan."

"That makes sense. Like mustard on valve springs. In WWII, I guess we sucked up to the Japs so we could bomb Tokyo."

"We probably just didn't think of it."

We talked for an hour until work let out at the sawmill and people started coming in.

Red's idea was that if you want to beat us in a war, all you gotta do is hide till we can't remember the war anymore, which he said is usually about three months. What he said was about half of Americans don't like America and they're the ones that run it. I don't know if it's true. Maybe it just looks like it.

I said well, at least we beat the Al Qaedas.

Red poured himself a beer. It's an advantage of owning a bar. Maybe I ought to get one.

"Well, think about it," he said. "They blew up a couple of our best buildings full of lawyers, killed several thousand people, made fools of the US to the whole world, and about crippled the airlines and hotels. Then they made us spend billions on Afghanistan and more billions on stupid security stuff for airports and you still can't get on an airplane without hopping around barefoot like a damn fool, and the FBI gets to spy on us three times as much as it used to. Now we're waiting for the A-bomb to go off somewhere and fry everybody's catfish. So we got mad and blew up some mud huts and never did catch anybody important."

He looked thoughtful.

"It's a good thing we won. Suppose we'd lost?"