To fight terrorism, invade Paraguay

We have now spent $400 billion on our glorious war in Iraq and have gotten 2,500 American soldiers killed, plus 40,000 or so brownish locals, whose names neither our government nor media deem worth recording.

The dead natives, at least most of 'em, could only jabber in Arabic anyway. Incidentally, another 18,000 or so Americans have been grossly mutilated, many with missing eyes or limbs or genitals, some doomed to a life of chronic pain, just at a time when our government is doing its best to screw them out of Veterans Administration services and benefits.

Yes, all that is true. But it has all been well worth it, regardless of what those contemptible, whining, cut-and-run liberals say.

You see, this has helped protect us from another terrorist attack. President George W. Bush said so, and so did the toughest talking SecDef since Robert McNamara had his quasi-nervous breakdown over Vietnam.

Never mind that there is no sign that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, or that Saddam was planning anything at all.

Never mind that they had no weapons of mass destruction. We invaded them anyway, and so eliminated any threat that they will crash a go-kart into the ruins of the Book-Cadillac hotel, which the Detroit Free Press tells us will be restored any day now.

But it is not enough, comrades. Not enough. There are evildoers everywhere. Terror is on the march. We have a choice. We either take the fight to them, or be prepared to do battle with Osama bin Laden in our infants' nurseries.

And that's why we must invade Paraguay.

Nobody expects us to take this very necessary next step, which is precisely why we must do it. Most Americans couldn't even find Paraguay on the map. (It lies deep within the kidneys of South America.)

Yet it is exactly this which makes invasion now all the more necessary. Twenty years ago, I spent some time there. Paraguay was full of old Nazis then, with rheumy reptilian eyes and stocky legs made for lederhosen. I actually met one of these, a Herr Alberto Wagner, who had a restaurant called Der Weisse Hind, or some such. "Forty years ago," he told me with a straight face, "I am having a little trouble in Europe."

Damn straight. When they overran the bunker, Paraguay took him in, and lots of his pals. Why then shouldn't we believe it is a massive staging area for al Qaeda? Nobody is paying any attention to Paraguay.

Terrorists, possibly even Osama, may well be there now; with the eyes of the world elsewhere, they can slip in and out, unnoticed. Contrary to popular impression, most Paraguayans don't speak much Spanish.

They speak a Native American language called Guarani, which I'm sure Karl Rove couldn't distinguish from the purest Arabic spoken by the Prophet. No doubt al Qaeda has switched over to using it, since we probably don't have a Guarani speaker in our entire vast spy apparatus, most of which is still waiting patiently for the Soviet Union to reappear.

Frankly, an invasion of Paraguay (called, perhaps, Operation Betel Nut) would allow us to savor the best features of both Iraq and Vietnam. The Paraguayan defense forces are tiny; maybe 10,000 soldiers, max.

There is only one major city, Asuncion, which we could take as easily as Baghdad. There is only one major political party, which is called (I am not making this up) the Colorado Party, though skiing is very limited.

And get this — Paraguay is almost exactly the same size as Iraq. In land area, that is. Actually, the whole country only has six million people. But there are deserts and grasslands and jungle and lots of places to hide and fight guerrilla-style.

There are even secret Ho Chi Marimba trails from Argentina and Brazil. We could occupy ourselves for decades looking for terrorists and weapons in the outback. Paraguayans don't give up easily, and don't mind an unfair fight. In the 19th century, they declared war on Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay at the same time. That got the vast majority of their adult male population killed. They sucked it up and rolled with the punches.

Paraguay is the kind of place where we could accomplish nothing for years, and it is high time Dandy Don Rumsfeld and his boys turned their attention to it. After all, we have thousands who are about to lose their jobs in the auto industry. Our nation owes it to ourselves to find them a career.

Funding our schools: Now, moving from the sublime to the serious ... there will be a proposal (one of many) on the November ballot designed to prevent the politicians in Lansing from further harming the schools.

They call it the "K-16" proposal, because it would guarantee that both public schools and public colleges and universities get increases of 5 percent a year or the inflation rate, whichever is lower.

Actually, it should be, whichever is higher. Naturally the slugs in the Legislature are horrified, and everyone from The Detroit News (It will raise taxes!) to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (clue?) has come out against it.

Even the liberals argue that lawmakers should have the needed flexibility to constantly review state spending priorities.

Twenty years ago, I would have agreed. But they are wrong, and here's why: Politically, Michigan isn't working. Our system is broken, thanks largely to term limits, which means lawmakers aren't there long enough and don't know enough to do what's right for the state. Term limits have given us a process by which the state turns out every year to have a last-minute budget deficit, and what do they cut?

Higher education, as in colleges and universities. Funding for the lower grades is slipping, as well. Every time we cut education funding we further cripple our ability to compete for the jobs of the future.

Yet ideological right-wing maniacs don't think that way. Nor does the education lobby want this; if schools were automatically funded, they fear they might lose clout, as if they now had any to begin with.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce will spend lavishly trying to kill the K-16 proposal, which should in itself tell you enough.

Should this properly be a matter handled by our lawmakers? Why sure. Except we don't have a professional independent Legislature anymore. Unless and until we get one back, we need to make sure we don't destroy our seed corn. For now, vote for the lifeboat. We'll worry about getting the color scheme coordinated, etc. when the hurricane ends.


Worth Taking In: Vermont U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, the only genuine independent in Congress and an avowed Democratic socialist, is now trying to take his progressive politics to the U.S. Senate.

And he will be in town Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m., at UAW Local 909 on Stephens Road in Warren. Frankly, he'll be looking for contributions.

But you could just go to see someone who has more integrity than nearly anyone else in Congress. For years, the Republicans and Democrats have tried to beat him, and he kicks their butts every time. Last time, he got twice as many votes as the two "major" party candidates put together. Maybe, just maybe, we could learn something here.

Jack Lessenberry, who teaches journalism at Wayne State University, opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]
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