Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A pleasant satirical exchange in the morning

Monday morning I came into work to find the email copied below from a local resident commenting on my weekend op-ed posted below as "Dane-geld."

It was marinated in mild sarcasm, so I responded in kind.

The resident does this kind of thing, and we probably won't be printing the exchange, because once we started doing exchanges, we'd be spending a lot of time and space on them.

I'm posting it, because I'm rather pleased with myself. I LIKE doing satire, it's the Irish in me. My guilty secret is that I love reading Ann Coulter rip somebody a new one.

But... Coulter does it all the time, and I think that makes it less effective than it might be. Using satire is like cussing; for greatest effect it should be used sparingly.

Soooo- the Resident wrote:

"I read with interest your article on N. Korea's release of the two American journalists coming at a price. Obviously the public, like myself, is not privy to some of the things you mentioned or I just missed them by not reading my 3 newspapers closely enough. I thank you for the update.

"Perhaps you can clarify a few things yet. Which "armed and agile nation" were you referring to at the beginning? Both we and
N. Korea are armed to the teeth, whether either country can currently afford it or not, but I am not sure which one or both are considered "agile" and in what sense?

"Being half Norwegian, I have always been interested in the Vikings and how they worked things out with the countries they invaded. In many cases I think the countries or areas felt the Dane-geld paid was a small price to being annihilated or devastated by the Vikings and as long as they got what they wanted, geld, they pretty much "honored" the agreements. The current day idea of "no negotiations with terrorists" just did not work that good back then. Ha I am not convinced it works now.

"In both the recent cases we got our people back and the families reunited. I doubt if that would have happened under the Bush Administration or some others.. It would have been, "You got yourself in that position and you live or die with it. No help from your country.", even if it only meant giving up some people or concessions you had no further use for anyway.

"With the N. Koreans, as with most oriental cultures, (which our government seldom seems to care to know nothing about, like with the Middle East also), saving face is still a big deal. Did you see the big smile on the face of Kim Jong II when he was standing next to the unsmiling Bill Clinton? The man could not have been happier for someone in his health! Happy people are LESS likely to kill like that angry young man in the news the last couple days. A small price to pay I think for those women, but then you obviously know something we don't.

"Like with the Iran deal to get Roxanne out. Until your article I had never heard anything about the "Irbil five" and still have not.

"Did these 5 really kill hundreds of American's themselves? If so, they indeed should have been kept, but I suspect they had served their usefulness to us, if not to the terrorists. Anyone that believes we did NOT have to give anything up to get the two releases is very unaware anyway and probably would believe anything. So no harm done. :-)

"Just who is the SPJ?. Can you speculate at least on all the things we don't know about yet?. If we did give them cash, maybe some of it will go to feed their people. Is that all bad? How would you get rid of the "Dane" Kim Jong II without taking out a lot of other people with him, on both sides? Just curious. Blockades don't work.

"My moment of sympathy for the little girl was not when she met her mother again, where she almost acted uncertain of who she was, but the story by her father of her starting to draw pictures of just him and her and leaving the mother out.. The damage was already being done, but to "save face" for our country, it normally would have continued. I personally hope to see more diplomacy tried or used, then just just the "big stick". Teddy R. advocated both. Was the price really that great? What was the concession exactly N. Korea got other then some recognition they crave? Will they be "nicer" now and talk at least?

"You referenced violence professionals calling it "rewarding bad behavior:. We obviously see it different as I felt it was rewarding good behavior, i.e releasing the women.. N. Korea has long set certain standards. Cross into our country without permission for any reason, even if it might be a malfunctioning GPS unit, and you are toast. Could this have happened here?

"They, like the 3 hikers that ended up in Iran push the envelope in even getting that close to known belligerent countries, but does that mean we should abandon them to their fate or possible stupidity? Will we get them back too "for a price"? Who knows.

"Kipplings shame is just a western way of saying you do not want to lose face yourself. No one does, but common sense has to prevail sometimes. I think the current administration is making the right "adjustments" in our foreign policy. Thanks for listening."


(SIC: All misspellings and syntax are his.)

I replied:

Google "Irbil five." That should get you into the inner sanctum of information I'm privy to.

You said: "What was the concession exactly N. Korea got other then some recognition they crave?"

Perhaps, and I'm just guessing here, it's the privilege of being treated as if they were a reasonably civilized nation that say, doesn't allow a few million of their own people to starve to death to maintain their "face."

You said: "A small price to pay I think for those women, but then you obviously know something we don't."

Read it again. I have no alternative to doing what we did to get them back. There isn't one. Teddy Roosevelt could cry, "Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead!"* but North Korea though tiny, is one of the countries China regards as its tributary/buffer states.

What I said, plainly enough I think - though it goes against the American cultural assumption that all problems have unambiguously good solutions, was that there is a price to pay. Period.

I can say that with confidence because there is a price to pay for everything. It's called economics I think.

You say the price is "small enough." We shall see. My personal opinion is, there are no "small" prices to pay when dealing with mass murderers.

You said: "Happy people are LESS likely to kill like that angry young man in the news the last couple days."

Really? That's an interesting theory. My own reading of history (and personal experience with psychopaths) is that states such as North Korea, the Soviet Union, National Socialist Germany, etc. are ruled and staffed by people who are really happy when they are bending other people to their will, and hurting and killing them from sheer sadistic glee. In such states they take people like that angry young man in the news and give them jobs.

One of the happiest smiles I ever saw was on the face of a uniformed thug in Eastern Europe swinging a rubber truncheon. (They're not all rubber actually, they have a steel rod inside.) But then it connected with my face and I don't remember much after that, so perhaps I didn't see the remorse after he realized he'd hurt me.

You said: "Being half Norwegian, I have always been interested in the Vikings and how they worked things out with the countries they invaded. In many cases I think the countries or areas felt the Dane-geld paid was a small price to being annihilated or devastated by the Vikings and as long as they got what they wanted, geld, they pretty much "honored" the agreements. The current day idea of "no negotiations with terrorists" just did not work that good back then. Ha I am not convinced it works now."

I'm confused. You say the idea of "no negotiation with terrorists" didn't work that good back then - but in the previous sentence you mentioned that negotiating, buying them off, was precisely what they were doing.

Nonetheless I agree, "no negotiation" is a silly way to put it. "Don't mess with us or you'll die" is a negotiation.

Oh, and as I recall the Danes wound up taking the Saxon kingdom, until Alfred the Great took it back by force. Later a descendant of Norwegian Vikings took England for good in 1066. That works pretty good if you're Norwegian I guess. I suppose it's all in your point of view.


* One of the most delightful things I ever learned was that the central incident of one of my favorite movies, "The Wind and the Lion," with Sean Connery as the Raisuli, Candace Bergen as Eden Pedicaris, and Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt, was based on an actual incident. And Roosevelt really did say, "Pedicaris alive, or Raisuli dead!"

On of the biggest disappointments in my life was learning that Pedicaris was a man.

2 Comments:

  • At 3:31 AM, Blogger jessica said…

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
    ___________________
    Jessica
    Email Marketing Solutions

     
  • At 3:59 AM, Blogger Steve said…

    Welcome Jessica.

    One of the nice things about being a writer is the feeling of having a conversation with more friends than you ever knew you had.

     

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