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The Mouse That Roared

Bill Neinast


Youngsters under the age of 60 may not remember The Mouse That Roared.  That historical novel by Leonard Wibberley was first published in 1955.  The movie with Peter Sellers was released in 1959.

Calling the book a historical novel might be a stretch, but the seminal event was the Marshall Plan. 

In 1945, Germany and Japan were vanquished physical and economic wastelands.   U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., recommended converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character.  President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill initially accepted that idea.  Subsequently, however, they elected to follow the recommendations of Secretary of State George Marshall to rebuild the war devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again.

Adopting the so called Marshall Plan and spending billions of U.S. dollars resulted in Germany and Japan being rebuilt as economic power houses in their areas.

The Mouse that Roared capitalizes on that background.  A tiny fictional country in the European Alps decides to declare war on the United States and then quickly to capitulate.  If it claims that the war devastated its land and people, certainly the generous Uncle Sam will flood it with dollars to make it more than whole.

Events of the last several weeks indicate that Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s Supreme Leader, has just discovered this satirical novel? 

Unquestioned facts of current international diplomacy are that the U.S. is unequaled in military power and its ability to project that power anywhere in the world.  If desired or necessary, that power could reduce all of North Korea to a wasteland far inferior to the agricultural and pastoral character that Morgenthau envisioned for Germany.

So why is Kim acting so irrationally?  Only he and his closest advisors may know the real answer to that question.

A safe assumption, however, is that personal recognition as a “strong” leader both internally and externally is one of his motives. 

We have granted that wish with spades by flaunting our power as an answer.  As already noted, the awesomeness of that power is recognized worldwide.  Why then spend millions of dollars to send two B-2s on round trips to  the Korean peninsula?

That little show of force, plus announcing the movement of more planes and ships into the area, just makes Kim preen and march in front of his minions to tell them, “Look, the mighty United States is scared of me, the Mighty Supreme Leader of North Korea.”

This bellicosity by Kim cannot be ignored because his real intentions are not known.  Silent responses, however, would be the most effective actions.  Move the planes and ships into place as is being done, but without any fanfare or publicity.

A better response may have been quietly to request a meeting of diplomats in the  Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to deliver a present from President Obama to Kim.  Without any members of the press being present, the North Korean delegation could have been given a picture album.

The album should be titled, “In modern warfare, leaders are the targets.”  Only several pictures, some of which were photoshopped, would be required.  Suggestions for inclusion would be pictures of former Egyptian President Mubarak behind bars, Saddam Hussein hanging from a noose, Seal Team Six with the casket of bin Laden in front of them, and that U.S.-born al Qaeda cleric Al-Awake being blown to bits by a drone.  The final picture in the album should be of a drone carrying two or more bombs or missiles that could be nuclear.

In a week or so, just to make sure that the album came to Kim’s attention, the album could be “leaked’ to the Korean and Japanese press and spread on U-Tube and Facebook.

So here’s the perspective.

Diplomacy is more than saber rattling.  Sometimes a subtle approach is more effective than flexing muscles.  That was demonstrated a century ago with Teddy Roosevelt and his “Talk softly, but carry a big stick approach.”

We do have a big stick.  Everyone knows that, so we do not have to shake it until needed.

PS: There was a discussion here last week about prisoners receiving SSI checks while in jail.  Subsequently, a friend mentioned the “No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners Act of 2009.”  This act prohibits the payment of SSI to convicted prisoners while in jail. The payments can be transferred to family members for whom the prisoners are responsible and resumed to the convicts when released from confinement.  

Dr. Yoffee noted that most of the prisoners that he treats in the local jail are in pretrial confinement and still drawing their checks.