Friday, September 01, 2006

America the Beautiful

Tonight on Turner Classic Movies I was watching a Peter Sellers movie from the late '50s called The Mouse That Roared. Sellers (presaging his multi-role tour de force in "Dr. Strangelove....") plays the Grand Duchess, Prime Minister, and General of the Army of the tiny state (fictional) of the Grand Duchy of Fenwick -- high in the French Alps. Their main export is a specialty wine with their main trading partner being the U.S. A California vintner invents a knockoff of Fenwick's wine and sells it at a cut rate price thereby bankrupting Fenwick.

What is Fenwick to do? They request the vintner to cease and desist, but since they never recognized the U.S. gov't they have to go through Monaco's embassy. The PM has the brilliant idea to declare war on the U.S. since everyone knows that the U.S., of all states, will forgive almost anything. Fenwick will be defeated and U.S. largesse a la The Marshall Plan will save Fenwick from its dire straits. Suffice to say they invade New York City (with an army Henry V would've recognized), steal the Q-Bomb, and capture some U.S. military brass along the way.

I was struck by the attitude towards the U.S. I realize it was a comedy, but this Army fully expected to lose and then be taken care of by U.S. authorities -- indeed, they expected to be rebuilt fully and gain in the process of defeat by the mighty U.S. military. There was some social commentary about "the Bomb" and the absurdity of civil defense drills, etc., but the default position was ultimately pro-U.S. it seemed to me.

We still do this by the way.... "Losing" Vietnam and Korea was not just bad for us politically, etc. It had horrific consequences for the people of Vietnam and North Korea. Could these people be part of a booming "economic tiger" a la Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea? Perhaps.

This is not an advocacy for war or starting wars. I'm just noting that when we win wars we are exceedingly magnanimous in victory -- sharing our money, our ideals and our vast array of resources (material and otherwise). Are you listening Middle East?

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