Friday, March 4, 2011

DROWNING THE BABY, SAVING THE BATHWATER

The warships gather, as do the rationales. The table is groaning with options. A word rarely mentioned is oil.

The Wall St Journal has called for the U.S. and Europe to "help Libyans overthrow the Gadhafi regime." (Insufficiently compliant.) Obama and Hilary have expressed "outrage" in their zeal to save innocent lives.

The Senate, condemning Gadhafi's "violence against civilians" (as opposed to our own, or Israel's), with unanimous consent quickly passed a resolution which "calls on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over the territory of Libya."

Some pols have not been as politic. Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, for instance, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee has noted that a no-fly zone could deter Kadafi from striking rebels with his chemical weapons and offers the U.S. a way "to project power without getting engaged on the ground."

I seem to remember something about a western Coalition of the Willing liberating the people of Iraq from Saddam, and the tribes of Afghanistan from warlords and  the Taliban.

In short, you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don't need a fisherman to smell something fishy. The details are changing hour by hour; the exact storyline is hard to predict. But that the babe of freedom is life-threatened by its bath of oil, power struggles, and violence -- that we know. Some things are transparent.

The Bread & Puppet Theater has a devastating little play called "The King Story." Peter Schumann's narrator speaks as follows:

Once there was a Good King.  And the King had a Priest, and the King had a Red Man, and the King had a Blue Man and his Son, and the King had  Good People.

One day, a Great Warrior came into the King's country and offered his services to the King.  But the King refused to accept his services and he sent him away.

Then a terrible Dragon appeared in the King's country, and the People were afraid, and the King was afraid.  And he called for the Great Warrior.  But the Priest implored the King not to ask the Great Warrior for help, and the Blue Man and his Son implored the King not to ask the Great Warrior for help.
 
But the King was afraid and the People were afraid.  And the King called for the Great Warrior, and the Great Warrior fought the Dragon.  And the Great Warrior killed the Dragon.

And then the Great Warrior killed the King, and then the Great Warrior killed the Priest, and then the Great Warrior killed the Red Man, and then the Great Warrior killed the Blue Man and his Son, and then the Great Warrior killed the People.

And then the Great Warrior was alone.
   
And Death came.

And Death killed him.


"And Death killed him."  I'll tell you how. 

A smiling skull walks quietly out from behind a curtain, dressed in tux and white gloves, blowing softly on a bosun's whistle.  The Great Warrior's head is huge, metallic silver, topped with lethal spikes.  In each gigantic fist he holds an enormous sword which strikes mechanically, with deadly force. 

A smallish Death stands face to face with Immensity.

The Great Warrior raises his right sword, and brings it fiercely down.  But Death catches the sword, and slowly twists it, breaking the puppet arm. Inside, the puppeteer releases the handle, and the sword hand drops limply, flapping from its sleeve.  It is an astounding moment when the integrity of the puppet is broken.  For all the horror of the character, how pathetic to see the sword just dangle.

The same move is repeated with the left hand, and now, both swords swing helplessly from the Great Warrior's outstretched arms.  Then, in a move of high gymnastic, the puppeteer inside slowly arcs his body backward, so that the spikes of the Great Warrior's head touch the ground behind him.  He whips forward, and brings the spikes crashing down on Death. 

But his head is caught and twisted, his neck snaps, and his head dangles down, knocking against limp swords. 

Death walks around behind the Great Warrior, and pushes his carcass down to the ground, a mere blue mass now, with arms and head akimbo.  He blows his whistle softly, and walks off stage.

***************

This, Bread & Puppet's vision of Hope and Change.

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