Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"My pop's bigger than your pop!"

The most memorable political cartoon from my youth illustrated two enormous hydrogen bombs, one with an American flag and the other with a USSR flag, facing each other while standing on the surface of a too-small planet earth, each shouting at the other, "My pop's bigger than your pop!" Mad Magazine took this over the top in their own "article" about Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), with a series of hyperbolic images demonstrating that, by the time the fourth such missile was launched, there would be precious left of the surface of the earth to target. It was this wave of nostalgia that overwhelmed me when I saw the first images of Iran's missile test, now accompanied by follow-up reports provided by the BBC. At a time when the G8 still cannot get its act together on the economic necessity of sustaining the planet at all, we now have to put up with a new planet-destroying pissing contest, primarily between Israel and Iran but with the United States apparently only too eager to rush to support Israel. Little is gained from reproducing the rhetoric behind this pissing contest. I suspect that any reader who has been following the news regularly could invent "official statements" for all three parties with little more than a moment's thought. More disconcerting is that portion of the BBC report that spills over into the impact of this event on the Presidential campaign:

Describing Iran as a "great threat", the Democratic challenger, Barack Obama, called for tougher sanctions while his Republican rival, John McCain, said the test demonstrated the need for effective missile defence.

McCain's reaction should not surprise anyone; but, if we needed any evidence for taking Obama's AIPAC speech seriously, this will certainly contribute to it. Perhaps this is what he meant when he talked to his AIPAC audience about "tough and principled diplomacy;" but, now that he no longer needs to be audacious to capture the nomination, I fear that he has also decided that he no longer needs to be principled. As the old joke goes, we are up to our eyeballs in alligators; and it seems that Obama is as interested as McCain in breeding more of those alligators!

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