Article Overview:    300 years ago Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels.   Today, his story is a parallel of what's happening between France, Germany the United States and Saddam Hussein.   Find out who the Lilliputians are, and why they want to blind America and starve her to death while Saddam Hussein smokes cigars and laughs.


Thursday--February 27, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 533
 Terrorism & The Lilliputians:  "You're Not in Charge Of Me!"

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 27--Saddam Hussein is winning the war against Vigilance, at least for the moment.  Gulliver’s Travels are helping him.
      Like a bully who instigates a fight between onlookers, Saddam is sitting back and smoking his cigar as the by-standers of Terrorism attack each other, fighting over who is in charge of toppling the Butcher of Baghdad.

Saddam Hussein is sitting back and enjoying the brouhaha he caused

      That's the message Josef Joffe presents in his March 3 opinion piece, “Collateral Damage,” printed in the Time Magazine’s, Viewpoint section.
      In the piece, Mr. Joffe suggests that Saddam Hussein has deftly driven a wedge between the U.S. and Europe, opening ferocious debate over "who's in charge of the world."
      Instead of forming a solid wall alliance against Hussein, Europe and America are squabbling over "who's in charge of the world."   He likens the United States to a giant trespasser he calls, "Gulliver Unbound," referring to the intrusion of Gulliver upon the Lilliputians in Jonathan Swift’s classic satirical fairy tale, Gulliver's Travelers.
      Swift's story is about a ship wrecked sailor (who happens to be the ship’s surgeon, a less than glorious job in those days because part of his job was to cut the crew’s hair as well as to hack off gangrened limbs), Gulliver, who is washed ashore in Lilliput.  Gulliver is a giant in Lilliput because the people inhabiting it are only six inches tall.   After the initial shock of his size, the Lilliputians decide to befriend him and turn him into a weapon of mass destruction against their enemy, the nation of Blefuscu.  He is  named Quinbus Flestrin, or "Man Mountain." 
       Swift’s story is a parody of the political and moral battles raging at the time between France (Blefuscu) and Britian (Lilliput).  Swift uses metaphors to lambaste society, which he believes is de-evolving, becoming cannibalistic in nature as nations vie for dominance over one another.
      As Swift's fable goes, Gulliver saves Lilliput from a Blefuscudian invasion and is awarded the title of honorary Nardac.    Without stretching the intent of Swift’s satire written nearly 300 years ago, one can easily draw a parallel between how the U.S. was Gulliver in the 40’s and helped Europe escape the grip of Hitler in World War II, and, how it became over the ensuing post-war years, an honorary Nardac.   But all is not what it seems as time marches on.  Swift’s story makes reality ring as loudly today as it did three centuries ago.  His story goes on.

Gulliver turns into a Beast of Terror

      Gulliver, once a great hero and saving grace for Lilliput (Europe), turns into a Beast of Terror in the eyes of the Lilliputians.    Because Gulliver is enormous in size compared to the half-foot tall Lilliputians, he consumes massive heaps of  Lilliput's natural resources.   Safe and secure, the people tire of feeding him, and, he grows ever more powerful daily.
      Gulliver is less than graceful in his mannerisms.  When the Lilliputian’s Royal Palace begins to burn, Gulliver urinates on it to put out the flames.  This enrages the Lilliputian Queen.  His act is considered a crime.  (Could European’s think George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are urinating on them?  Old Europe?  Hmmmm.)
     But urination is only one of a number of charges the Lilliput government slings his way.  He is also accused of having an affair with the with the Lilliput Royal Treasurer's wife, and, to top off his bad behavior, he refuses to completely destroy Blefuscu (ala the U.S. rebuilding of Germany rather than destroying it.)
      Flimnap, the royal treasurer whose wife Gulliver is alleged to have an affair with (seemingly impossible due to size differences), and another royal counselor, Skyresh Bolgolam, draw up official articles of treason. (Could this be an 18th Century parallel to the actions of France and Germany indicting the U.S. today as a "warmonger" by refusing to support the U.S., and, adding insult to injury, offering the U.N. its own plan to resolve the Iraqi issue without first consulting the U.S.?  Hmmmm…)
        The King of Lilliput (The U.N. ?  The Security Council?  France and Germany?) refuse Gulliver a trial and sentence him to a brutal death.  He is to be blinded and starved.   Fortunately, Gulliver escapes to Blefuscu and ends up being picked up by another ship to later travel to other lands.  

Jonathan Swift's story is relevant today

         There are four books on his travels, each one a political satire on the times.  (Swift’s next adventure, which I won’t go into, involves Gulliver as a midget in a land of giants, a reverse of Book One, but full of stinging satire and parody.)
        Jonathan Swift was born in Dublin in 1667.  He was ordained in Ireland in 1695 and became dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin.  He loathed cruelty, imperialism and war.  He wrote Gulliver's Travels.  It appeared in 1726 as an overnight success.  
         Nearly 300 years later, his story is alive as when the ink first dried, perhaps an endorsement to some that societies don’t evolve as he suggested.   Europe, in many ways, is Lilliput and America, a lumbering Gulliver, whose power now threatens those it once saved from Terrorism.  

Europeans want to tie America down and limit its power

         Now it seems some Europeans would like to blind America's eyes and starve its power.   Ironically, one of the ardent forces seeking the emasculation of American power is Germany, the nation that America refused to decimate after the war, as Swift refused to destroy Blefuscu even though the Lilliputians urged him to do so.
         Some might argue that President Bush's unilateral attitude about attacking Iraq is a metaphor for urinating on the royal nature of the United Nations, and that his “cowboy style” means the U.S. has no "class" when it comes to geopolitical savoir faire.  One might go so far to assume the Franco-Germanic alliance against the U.S. is an attempt to strap the giant down, burn out its eyes and starve it of its power.
          That's the implied theme Josef Joffe has presented in his Time "Collateral Damage" opinion.   His opinion is that Saddam Hussein is sitting back enjoying the spate between Europe and America and using the ego battle between the two global forces as a buffer for his own survival.
           In November, Hussein told the Egyptian weekly, al-Usbou:  "We have to buy some more time, and the American-British coalition will disintegrate."
 Joffe makes the point that Saddam has been able to fracture the once-solid Alliance between the U.S. and Europe.  Rifts between nations over the Iraqi war has mangled the "all-for-one-and-one-for-all," attitude that has glued NATO as a solid force for many years.
          Europeans, Joffe suggests, especially France and Germany, have been struggling to become an independent force ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.   Joffe proposes  that "They (Europe's Germany and France) may see America's power play, let alone its triumph, in the Middle East as a greater evil than Saddam and his weapons of Armageddon.  If so, the name of the game is to put the ropes back on Gulliver--to constrain and contain him.  Or: 'Let's all gang up on Mr. Big.'"
          Three centuries ago Jonathan Swift saw the same political game being played.   He saw the powers of big and small at odds, and the impact of nations to gain power meted out at the expense of those who helped them attain it or regain it.  No honor among thieves, Mr. Swift?
           It seems a sad scenario when the children get angry at their parents for protecting them from Terrorism, and then Terrorize the parents for being Vigilant.  
          I understand these polemics in a microbic manner.  Let me offer an example.
          My six-year-old grandson has a huge ego, as most children do.
          When my wife and I first came to New York City three years ago to help our daughter with her children while she finished up her Masters of Divinity degree at Union Theological College, our then three-year-old grandson didn't take well to our discipline, which, as is usually the case, was different from that he received from his mother and father.
          In some areas, we were far less tolerant of certain behavior when Matt was in our charge.  When we initially "laid down the law," he would turn, grimace, ball up his fists, grind his face into a mask of frustration and shout:  "You're not in charge of me!"
          I would respond, "Oh, yes we are."
          "No," he retorted, "I'm in charge of me!"

Boy in charge

        Needless to say we were Gulliver's and he was a Lilliputian.   Size does have power.   Matt was about three-feet tall at the time, and about 30 pounds.  I'm 6-4 and weigh in about 275.   If there ever was a Lilliputian versus a Gulliver, Matt and I serve as examples of such physical disparity.
         But, dynamite comes in small packages.   Matt has the ferocity of France.   He's like France in many ways, a bandy rooster who thrusts out a bony chest and holds his head in arrogance, refusing to walk in anyone's shadow.   I love that about him, for I know that a man's physical size has nothing to do with his stature as a human being.  But I am also aware that often Matt seeks to attack me just because I am big, and not because I pose any threat.
         Last night, for example, I was helping my wife baby sit the kids.  I was sitting on the couch looking at the television.   We watch Discovery Channel with them, and an occasional Funniest Home Videos or The Price Is Right.  They like cheering on the contestants.
        As I was engrossed looking at the television, I suddenly felt a hard sharp force smash into my chest.   It knocked me back, startling more than hurting.  It was an unexpected sneak attack.  Matt had made a flying leap halfway across the room and thrust his now 45-pound, six-year-old body against me.  I gasped. 
        "Don't do that," I responded, more concerned that a surprise attack might result in me swatting him reflexively than concerned about personal injury.   I had a vision of me swatting him up against the wall and then explaining to our daughter and son-in-law why their son had to be scraped off it.
        I figure that Matt kept looking at me as a giant, and thinking of himself as Lilliputian.   He would show me he was as tough, if not tougher than I, by hurling himself at me like a cannonball. 
         In my book, Matt doesn’t have to prove how tough he is. Matt's a giant of a little man, for his character is of a giant size.   He cares about others, is fearless for his size, and has an imagination few can keep up with.   His favorite hobby is studying dinosaurs, and he can relate their names and sizes encyclopedically.  None of those qualities, it seems, stopped him from attacking Gulliver.   He had to show his power of the giant.  So, I understand France’s chest-puffing, even if I don’t agree with it.
         And that may be exactly what Saddam Hussein wants of France and Germany.   Saddam wants the two nations to blind and starve the U.S., to tie it up and render it helpless to garner support against him.   Saddam wants the U.N. dissidents to shout: "You're NOT in charge of me.”

America is under attack by France and Germany

     The refusal of France and Germany to side with the United States has been termed by some more political than strategic on the issue of Terrorism.   Many believe the War on Terrorism has turned into a War Of Powers between the U.S. and Europe. If Jonathan Swift were alive, I’m sure he’d boast:  “See, I told you so.  No progress.  No progress.  Society is doomed.”
        Swift, with his fatalistic attitude toward society, would remind us all of one of the oldest strategies of combat.  That is to "divide and conquer" the allies.   Hussein doesn’t have to do much but sit back and watch it happen.   He sees two major allies, the U.S. and Europe, squabbling over who’s in charge.  In the meantime, he continues to build his missiles, and his buddy, Kim Jong Il of North Korea fires test missiles into the Sea of Japan and cranks up its nuclear reactor, sensing that Gulliver is on his knees and the Lilliputians have burning sticks ready to stick in his eyes.
        The battle between Europe’s control versus the U.S. in combat isn’t new.
        In World War II, Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander, was often challenged to select a British force over an American one, not because it was better equipped to do the job, but because of politics.  In a last minute decision, he allowed Charles De Gaulle to march into France as though De Gaulle had something to do with the liberation of the nation, which he had very little to do with.   America took little credit for being Gulliver.
        Today, the future of Saddam Hussein may rest in the hands of the Lilliputians-- French and Germans.   If they succeed in bullying America out of the alliances forged over many years with Europe, they may grind down the American-British coalition.   Their Lilliputian victory over Gulliver may be the world's defeat.    When Allies who stand for a solid block of freedom fighters start fighting in their own ranks over who is in charge, the children suffer.

We must think of the children in Iraq and other children in our world stifled by Tyranny

       I think of the kids in Iraq.   While nations squabble over "who's in charge," the children struggle to survive under despotism and tyranny.
        Europeans know that Saddam Hussein is the Butcher of Baghdad.  Everyone knows that.  So the issue can't be whether Saddam should be granted amnesty or not, but rather who is in charge of issuing that amnesty.  France and Germany would like to be the center stage stars of any ultimate policy in the Middle East.  And, they seem willing to pay the price for it at the expense of Iraqi children.
        But is that right?  Should governments and their leaders be the sole arbiters of justice for the world?   Where are the people’s Voices?  Where are the Lilliputians, the Blefuscudians?
        As Parents of Vigilance we all have a duty to set aside our personal and national egos and look at the selfless acts of leadership that benefit all the Children’s Children’s Children.   Such selflessness is hard to achieve when the Parents of the World stand mute on issues such as Iraq, and leave the future of a nation and nations up to the politicians.
        In Gulliver's Travels the leaders of Lilliput denied him a trial.   They didn't want the Lilliputian Parents of Vigilance to judge what Gulliver had done, for they might have absolved him of any crimes lodged by the politicians.   Their children were safe, their land was free.   Gulliver had helped them live another day.  Why, he had even urinated on the Palace?   Could he be so bad as to have his eyes burned out and starved to death for such acts?
       While the people of Lilliput may not have liked feeding Gulliver, they certainly wouldn't have wished to blind him and starve him to death.  They probably would have helped build a ship for him and set him on a journey rather than scourge him.
       But politicians like cruelty.   They seek revenge and power.    
       Perhaps that's why Jonathan Swift had Gulliver urinate on the Palace--a symbol, however crass, of the revulsion the author had toward political authority that seeks to sate itself at the expense of the future.

Parents of Europe unite with America against Tyranny!

       I would like to see the Parents of Vigilance in Europe take a vote as to whether they consider America a Gulliver or a Tyrant.  Forget about the issue of war.   That throws a wrench into the works.   What about America?   Is it a friend or foe?   Do you want America on your side as a Sentinel of Vigilance looking out for enemies of the children, for threats to future generations, or do you want to cleave all relations?  Do you want to urinate on the American Flag?   That’s the issue. 
        I don't think the Mothers and Fathers of European Vigilance would want to banish Gulliver America from their land.   What Parent of Vigilance would want to exile a Sentinel of Vigilance willing to send their children and their Children’s Children’s Children to die for their freedom?
        I think the Parents of Europe would like their leaders, along with America, to be more concerned with the Children's Children's Children than "You're NOT in charge of me!"
       If you agree with this point of view, then take the Pledge of Vigilance and email to a friend in France or Germany.  
       Tell them that Jonathan Swift sent you, and it’s time to untie Gulliver and give him a pat on the back, not a kick in the slats.

Feb 26--The Ugliness Of War:  A Warrior's View Of Protest

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