Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

The UN Unmasked

Humorist Dave Barry's revisionist history

by Sachi Sri Kantha, September 2, 2009

(2) The Security Council, which is limited to nations that have mastered the concept of plumbing. It is very powerful. Its functions are to: (a) Pass sweeping resolutions intended to end bloody conflicts; and then (b) veto, ignore, or walk out on these resolutions.

Front Note by Sachi Sri Kantha

Sometimes humor can be the best weapon to pry open the secrets and promote facts that have been buried in buckets of lies. In my choice list of American humorists, Mark Twain, Art Buchwald and Erma Bombeck were masters of the humor genre in deflating  political myths, pomp and vanity. Occasionally, Andy Rooney and Dave Barry also have lent their hands to write political history with unvarnished facts.

Lately the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has received some flak for his handling of the Tamil issue of Sri Lanka. In fairness to Mr. Moon, one should note that the UN secretary general is nothing but a pliable dwarf who serves as a glorified peon or home boy (no home girls yet!) to vested power blocks. As the Tamil adage notes, ‘Why blame the arrow, in place of the archer?’ In reality, the deeds of the American representative at the UN carry more weight than that of Mr. Moon’s voice.

The 64th General Assembly of UN is set to open on Sept. 15th. In the preliminary list of items to be included in the provisional agenda of the 64th regular sessions of the General Assembly are 34 items (items from 9 to 42), under the sub-heading “Maintenance of International Peace and Security.” None of these 34 items directly deals with the situation faced by the Sri Lankan Tamils. A couple of listed items seem hilarious for stand up comics. Check item no. 12: “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict (resolution 63/134)”. How about an aptly related item: The role of oil in fuelling conflict? Or, check item no. 27: “University of Peace (resolution 61/108)”. Or, check item no. 34 “Questions relating to information (resolution 63/100A and B)”. I think that “information” may be a euphemism for spying-related activities, what Davy Barry has noted as the “concept of plumbing”. Other perennial favorites include, “prevention of armed conflict” (item no. 13), “question of Palestine” (item no. 16), “question of Cyprus” (item no. 21) and “effects of atomic radiation” (item no. 29). The UN General Assembly sessions are nothing but an annual talk fest.

I present below a Dave Barry column, that appeared 20 years ago. In this version of revisionist history, the humor quotient almost equals that of the fact quotient. This you won’t find in any history tome authored by a certified historian.

Dave Barry’s Revisionist History

[source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 18, 1989]

While the United States was struggling to get out of the Depression, the nations of Europe were struggling to overcome the horror and devastation and death of World War I so they could go ahead and have World War II. By the 1930s, everybody was just about ready, so Germany, showing the kind of spunky ‘can-do’ spirit that has made it so popular over the years, started invading various surrounding nations. This alarmed Britain and France, which decided to strike back via the bold and clever strategy of signing agreements with Adolf Hitler. Their thinking was: If you can’t trust an insane racist paranoid spittle-emitting dictator, whom can you trust?

Shockingly, this strategy did not prove to be effective. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland in retaliation for Poland’s flagrant and provocative decision to be right next door. Britain and France then declared war against Germany, which immediately invaded France and managed to conquer it after an epic battle lasting, by some accounts, as long as 35 minutes. At this point, things looked pretty bleak for the Allied, or ‘good’ side. The last bastion of goodness was Great Britain, a feisty, plucky little island in the North Atlantic led by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had won the respect and loyalty of the British people for his ability to come up with clever insults at dinner parties.

The British persevered, but by 1941 it was clear that they could not hold out long without military support from the United States. At the time, Americans were strongly opposed to becoming directly involved, but that was to change drastically when the Japanese, implementing a complex, long-term, and ultimately successful strategy to dominate the US consumer-electronics market, bombed Pearl Harbour. And so it was time to have WORLD WAR II.

In fact, the actual war was extremely depressing, which is why we’re going to follow our usual procedure here and skip directly to the end.

America entered the final stages of the war under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S Truman, a feisty, plucky native of Missouri who grew up so poor that his family could not afford to put a period after his middle initial, yet who went on to become a failed haberdasher. It was Truman who made the difficult decision to drop the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the rationale being that only such a devastating, horrendous display of destructive power would persuade Japan that it had to surrender. Truman also made the decision to drop the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, the rationale being that, hey, we had another bomb.

When the war finally ended, Truman shrewdly realized that it was time to enter the Postwar Era. His first order of business was to work with the leaders of the other devastated and war-weary nations to establish some kind of mechanism to guarantee that there would be lasting world peace for a couple of months while everybody developed better weapons. It was this idealistic hope that gave birth to a noble organization that has survived and flourished to this day, an organization that affords an opportunity for representatives of virtually every nation on the globe to gather together for the purpose of freely and openly using their diplomatic license plates to violate New York City parking regulations. We refer, of course, to THE UNITED NATIONS.

The United Nations consists of two main bodies.

(1) The General Assembly, which is, in the generous spirit of the UN Charter, open to just about every little dirtbag nation in the world. It has no power. Its functions are to: (a) Have formal receptions; (b) Listen to the Greateful Dead on headphones; and (c) Denounce Israel for everything, including sunspots.

(2) The Security Council, which is limited to nations that have mastered the concept of plumbing. It is very powerful. Its functions are to: (a) Pass sweeping resolutions intended to end bloody conflicts; and then (b) veto, ignore, or walk out on these resolutions.

But despite the presence of this potent force for peace, trouble was looming between the United States and the Soviet Union.

What caused the Cold War? Why did two nations that had both spilt so much blood in a common cause suddenly become archenemies? And how come it’s acceptable to write spilt? We don’t write: ‘I was truly thrilt when the service-station attendant filt up my car with gasoline’, do we? Of course not! There are no service-station attendants anymore! This is just one of the grim realities that we have been forced to learn to live with in the Cold War era. But what – we are going to finish this paragraph if it kills us – caused this to come about? Respected historians agree that many complex and subtly interrelated factors were involved, which is why we never sit next to historians at parties.

Speaking of parties, the Soviet Union at this time was being run by the Communists, a group of men fierce in their dedication to wearing hilariously bad suits. Their leader was Josef Stalin (Russian for ‘Joey Bananas’), who had risen quickly through the party ranks on the basis of possessing a high level of personal magnetism, as measured in armed henchpersons.

Stalin’s strategy at the end of World War II was to acquire a small ‘buffer zone’ between Russia and Germany, consisting of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and most of Germany. In an effort to garner public support in these nations, Stalin mounted a public-relations campaign built around the upbeat theme ‘Maybe We Won’t Have Your Whole Family Shot’, and in 1945, Eastern Europe decided to join the Communist bloc by a vote of 28,932,084,164,504,029 – to - 0.

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