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Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007

COUNTERPOINT

Salvation Skype's out for a state of despair


Special to The Japan Times

I must confess this Sunday. No, I am not about to blurt out my sins. I would rather keep those to myself, thank you. The confession today is out of total despair. Despair for this country we are living in: Japan.

Everything these days in Japan seems to be going to the dogs. Maybe this is an inappropriate metaphor. I have two highly spirited hounds at home, but compared to them, Japan has gone barking mad ... I know I don't have to give a detailed list of these miseries to readers of The Japan Times. You all know only too well about food scandals, policy flip-flops and politicians playing both sides against a middle that doesn't exist.

As your Counterpoint correspondent, however, I decided that I was not going to sit idly by while this country I love goes down the gurgler. This being the case, I took matters into my own hands and contacted the one man in the world who would certainly know what to do about this lamentable state of affairs. So, I got in touch with George W. Bush. Luckily, I had his Skype name (Blackwater Bombadier) and knew how to reach him.

I also knew that he was the man who could tell us all how to fix up Japan like he has fixed up the United States. After all, in the way he speaks, he's clearly someone who sticks to his gums; and he displays the scourge of his convictions in whatever he does. Such a man would make an ideal Japanese politician.

Here's a faithful record of our conversation . . .

Mr. President, it is a honor to speak with you.

Gee, not many people have said that to me lately.

Well, Mr. President, I know that you can be the savior of this country, just as you have saved Iraq and Afghanistan from terrorism and (disgraced former U.S. Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales from prosecution. So, please give us your advice.

Sure. Shoot.

New boy on the block

Well, sir, we are in dire straits! Top defense officials here are involved in corrupt . . .

Gol dangit! I told that Musharraf to pawn that uniform of his. I mean, before you know it, al-Qaeda will . . .

No, sir, I'm not in Pakistan. It's . . .

You're not talking about Pakistan? Oh, OK.

Besides, sir, politicians here are unwilling to make a commitment to the lofty goals of American foreign policy by sending troops. One of the parties, the . . .

Oh, shucks, it's that new boy on the block, Sarkozy. He says he's supportin' us, but when it comes to sending troops . . .

Sir? Sorry to interrupt, but I'm not talking about the French.

You're not? Sure sounds as if you are.

No, Mr. President. You see, this country did many bad things once and they haven't really apologized for . . .

Yeah, I told that Merkel lady . . . and I gave her a little shoulder rub while I was at it, hee hee. . . . I told her, you can't eat rotten pickles and then expect the world to ignore your bad breath, and . . .

But it's not the Germans, sir!

No? Well, listen, buddy, I don't have all day. I only have half a day 'cause I'm sleepin' the rest of the time. So, where in tarnation are you, anyway?

Well, sir, the leaders here pay money to support you and think that money buys friendship.

Got it: Saudi Arabia.

No.

Uh, hold your horses. Mexico?

Nope.

Canada? Costa Rica? Uh, Latvia, Estonia and Herzegovina?

Nope. Not even warm. But, Mr. President, the worst thing is there's no real democracy here.

No democracy! Just a minute, I gotta tell Dick so he can add it to our list.

That's right. The opposition party tries to make deals with the party that has been in power for over 50 years.

Oh my God! We gotta get some American bases in that country.

You already have lots of them, sir.

Got it. Turkey! It's gotta be Turkey! They're just tryin' to play their Kurds close to their chest.

A semblance of democracy

Uh, yes, sir, but, it's not Turkey. The trouble is, they have elections here, but the same party keeps getting voted in. They also have more American chains than anywhere else.

You mean, they have our chains, we got bases there, they have a semblance of democracy but our friends keep getting voted in, they pay hundreds of millions of dollars to support our policies and don't complain? Holy howitzer, I wish the whole world was like that! Why, we don't need to invade that country. God knows, we're already there!

Truer words were never spoken, sir.

Golly, if every country was like that, we wouldn't even need a foreign policy. That would save me a heck of a lot of sleep, I tell ya. But, hey, my friend, where did you say you were Skypin' me from?

(At this point the Skype line started to drop out, and I could only catch fragments of a conversation that the president was having with his vice. There were phrases like "find out" and "I gotta go to that country"; "buy 'em out" and "send Rove there as ambassador.")

Hello . . . hello . . . Mr. President? Hello, is that Blackwater Bombadier?

Sadly, I could not get the president back on line. My Skype line had dropped out entirely and my e-mail in-basket was starting to fill up with colorful ads for Viagra, friendly suggestions on how to enlarge the penis and lucrative Nigerian stock offerings. I never did get the chance to tell the president where I was calling from.

I turned my computer off and fell into a very pensive mood. The United States of America is really a great country, I thought. They've got a decisive and aggressive foreign policy toward all countries, whatever they call themselves. One policy for all. Golly, and here Japan didn't have even one policy for anywhere.

But then I figured it was all right in the end. The Japanese can't decide what kind of a country they want. So they may as well let another country decide for them.



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