Once upon a time in a far off land there lived a President who presided over a large and prosperous land.
One day he decided with the aid of his administration, some of who knew how to read a map, to wage war on another country. They chose a small country far away. The decision was made, not because this country had lots of oil, but because its leader was a nasty man and had been in power for longer than practically anyone else in the world so it simply wasn’t fair. He happened to adorn an evil looking black moustache as well and the President didn’t trust people with moustaches, especially women. Also, the President had secretly despised this leader because he had made a complete fool of his father during his term as President so he thought killing this horrible man and taking over his country would be a nice gesture towards his dad.
The President during that time was being continually reminded by his generals that his country had not been at war for many years and the military had developed a lot of wonderful new weapons which they needed to test on real live people and not computer generated models. If he could arrange for a war pretty soon then they all would be delighted.
So all was agreed, preparations commenced and a date of invasion was set.
But still the President could not sleep soundly at night, he was worried. When asked by his administration what was troubling him he explained that he doubted that the people throughout the land would continue to think highly of him after the most probable loss of so many of their young soldiers in a far off conflict that had no meaning whatsoever to any of the ordinary folk back home. Secretly the members of his administration were much more worried about the people finding out about what the conflict was going to cost but they agreed that to make both the loss, and cost, acceptable to everyone the President should tell the people that there was this other country that had lots of weapons which could blow up the world and it wasn’t good for world peace if two countries could do this. They told him to say that the war wouldn’t take long because someone somewhere knew exactly where these weapons were so everyone would be home for Christmas. When it came time to tell the people the President couldn’t remember whether he had been told which Christmas so he left that bit out.
Everyone across the land thought this was a good enough reason, so were happy to give the President their support.
But just as things seemed to be rolling along smoothly an adviser approached the President and suggested that the already tired and weary people of this country may not be very happy and friendly after the war if they were to witness the bombing of their cities, the destruction of their homes, the deaths of many of their fellow men, women and children, have their livelihoods wrecked and their lives totally disrupted yet again when they didn’t even ask for it to happen. As the President couldn’t see how his life was going to be disrupted unduly because of the war he reasoned that no one else’s would be either so he quickly dismissed the idea and his adviser at once.
Unfortunately, word spread around the world that preparations were being made for war and the President and his administration sensed some negativity. They began to get very angry. They could not understand why they could not go to war in peace without having everyone sticking their noses in. But since they did not want to appear the schoolyard bully the President rang around and invited other countries to join in as well. The President accidentally realised that this was not such a bad idea because, although they didn’t really need anyone’s help to flatten this little country, he could see that they had someone else to blame if something went really wrong. For example if the unthinkable happened and they lost.
To entice the other countries even further the President offered a piece of cake at his ranch when they all had finished. They could also have some oil too but they were not to dwell on this point too much because it might distract them from the real issue which he could not recall anymore but he knew it was really important.
Most countries didn’t like cake so they passed on the invitation. One small country with low self-esteem, however, thought cake was a good idea so it sent a number of troops, but unluckily ten returned home dead.
The Prime Minister of this country then had the awkward misfortune of addressing the congregation at the funeral for the deceased. Peering over the pulpit he appeared emotional, short and continued in a snivelling, whining tone which made the congregation uncomfortable as they didn’t quite know if he was going to cry or not.
“…I didn’t need this s#@t” he added unfortunately at a point when he was trying most to sound upbeat and positive. “I mean…in other words, I really didn’t want this sort of thing to have happened.”
“It’s not my fault!” he exclaimed. “It just goes to show what a despicable force our soldiers went to fight against to have this sort of thing done to them. To have these young brave individuals laying here before me is like having my own flesh and blood in these coffins…my own sons and daughters in fact. I loved these boys and girls who I waved off what seems to me only yesterday. And I felt sure they loved me in return which is what really hurts for me.”
The Prime Minister’s voice faltered and what looked like a tear rolled down his left cheek, but he pressed on.
“Let me be perfectly clear. This conflict had nothing to do with oil. I wouldn’t deceive the people of this great land on an issue as important as this.I don’t want to beat about the bush on this point. I want only to take the bull by the horns and look a gift horse in the mouth. We rose to the occasion like any great nation should when confronted with this opportunity…er…I mean…situation and we went over there and bit the bullet…although…um, of course, that is not really how this tragedy happened. We are all aware that this unfortunate state of affairs was the result of a misplaced trip wire but that’s beside the point. What really matters here is, and make no mistake about it, these young individuals
who each had an explosive future ahead of them ceased to live because they were prepared to put their bodies on the line. In the name of freedom and democracy I might add, something this country has always enjoyed and my government will ensure it continues to enjoy. We in this great nation, and I speak for all citizens, are proud of our young men and women who go overseas and sacrifice so much. That’s why my government will announce in the next budget an increase in funding for the defence forces. When people in the armed forces are prepared to serve their country in this uncertain manner they deserve the extra money. And let me add, if I may, that due to policies that my government has introduced, at the time of these brave people’s demise they were not paying a single cent in tax. It is worth dwelling on this point for a moment…not…a…single…cent…in…tax. I want my government to be remembered by future generations as a caring compassionate government concerned for all of its citizens. I know how hard it is to be far from home in remote, hostile countries – far from family and friends. I travel all the time. In fact I’m off to eat cake and talk recipes with other leaders tomorrow. But I don’t complain. It’s my duty as a serving leader. But let me assure you. I can well and truly sympathise with our armed forces that serve overseas. Anyway let’s not be consumed by sadness at a funeral. It should be remembered that the overwhelming majority of our troops came back in one piece, so let our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families and loved ones…”
The Prime Minister continued in this vein until he became aware that the only people left in the church were the minister who appeared pale and distraught and a middle aged woman sobbing uncontrollably in the front pew. He hurriedly finished the remainder of his speech and stepped down from the pulpit. As he passed the first pew he paused, but failing to think of a way to console the poor woman he walked briskly down the aisle, out of the church and into the political sunshine and lived happily ever after.