PYONGYANG ELIMINATED AS HOST OF 2007 INVASION
(Director's cut of piece in New York Observer of 11/6/06)
“President Bush said Wednesday that he would not use force against North Korea.” —New York Times
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1: The Republican Invasion Committee announced today that Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, is no longer under consideration as a site for the 2007 Invasion, narrowing the list of finalists to just five: Teheran, Damascus, Caracas, Khartoum, and Paris.
“Of course we are very disappointed,” said Song Il Sung, head of Pyongyang’s Invasion effort. “After the huge investment in infrastructure we have made, in good faith, with encouragement from the R.I.C.,” he said, referring to the Republican Invasion Committee, which supervises the selection process, “it is like being hit in the face with a bowl of Miyeoknaeng Guk,” he said, referring to Sea Mustard in Chilled Vinegar Water.
The tens of billions of dollars invested in nuclear-weapons and missile programs, culminating earlier this week in the test of a small nuclear device, were a high-stakes gamble for the small, impoverished Stalinist country. “With the money we spent to attract the Invasion,” said Nat Phor Long, a dissident leader, “we could have fed all our people for 12 yea— ” “Or, better yet, put up a really big statue of the Great Leader,” added Gat To Goh, an agent of the state security agency, known as the NSA. “Now come quietly or we break the other leg.”
Mr. Song speculated that Monday’s explosion, which analysts believe involved a device of four kilotons or less, may have been too small to impress the R.I.C. “To speak truthfully, I wanted a bigger one,” he said, “but most of our plutonium was employed to prepare the glow-in-the-dark specter costume which the Great Leader wore this Halloween. Not that I am complaining, of cou— “
With the elimination of Pyongyang, some analysts say, Teheran emerges as the favorite to host the 2007 Invasion. Like North Korea, Iran has made a major investment in infrastructure in an effort to impress the Committee. “We may not be quite ready for a test,” said Ayatollah Akbar “Johnny” Rafsanjani, who has spearheaded Teheran’s effort, “but when we are, it will knock your turban off. Not for us a camel’s gazor like that of the godless Koreans,” he said, using the Farsi term for the expulsion of methane and other digestive gases from the animal’s large intestine, or colon.
Damascus, for its part, has attempted to woo the R.I.C. by supporting and arming Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, most notably during the recent war in Lebanon. Boosters of the Syrian bid complain, however, that most of the credit has gone to Iran. All of which may be moot, sources inside the R.I.C. say: with Middle Eastern cities having hosted the last two Invasions, many on the committee worry that choosing either Teheran or Damascus would provoke charges of favoritism. “The last thing we’d want to be accused of,” said a member of the Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity so we could not make fun of his name, “is Islamophilia.”
For this reason, among others, observers say, the bid by Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, has its champions. “It’s gorgeous down there, just about year round,” said Lenny Riefenstahl, professor of history at the US Army War College and author of the forthcoming book “Triumph of the the Tail: The Political Invasion from the Philippines to TK.” “It’s sunny, breezy — perfect Invasion weather.” Moreover, he said, many on the R.I.C. — and many members of the US teams that will actually take part in the events — still have warm memories of Invasions hosted by other Latin American countries, such as Panama and Grenada.
Despite this advantage, he said, Caracas nearly knocked itself out of the running three weeks ago when Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, made a direct plea to the R.I.C. in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York. While Mr. Chavez’s impassioned speech caused a sensation among UN delegates, Dr. Riefenstahl said it is considered bad form for a head of state to intervene so blatantly in the selection process.
Khartoum, too, seems have misplayed its hand, and is no longer considered a strong contender. Civic boosters and government officials who thought genocide would be a trump card are likely to be disappointed, observers say, especially in light of the expenses they have incurred. “Westerners think of the Janjaweed as some kind of spontaneous tribal expression, but it is not so,” said Ahmed al Aikhman, chairman of KHARTOUM2007. “Like any military force, they must be armed, organized, fed, provided with air support. Genocide is expensive! And we do not have work camps, like some countries, where we can get a return on our investment.”
Paris, a surprise addition to the list of finalists, has made a strong showing in recent months, observers say. Without directly interfering in the selection process, French diplomats have subtly supported Paris’s bid by hindering and antagonizing their US counterparts at every turn. In addition, Paris has a proud history as an invasion host, said Jacques le Jock, who has presided over the city’s Invasion bid. “Ask the Boches — we always show our visitors a bon temps,” he said, using the French term for a good time, call 916 699-2323. [syntax? —ed.]
While lacking an active WMD program comparable to those of Teheran and Pyongyang, Paris does boast the world’s third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, Mr. le Jock noted. “One says that this imports not, as we are ‘a stable democracy.’ Zut alors! From which tongue, think you, comes your word ‘caprice’?”
Despite the eagerness with which the candidate cities have pursued the prize, economists are divided on whether the benefits of hosting the Invasion justify the huge expense involved. Recently, the international consulting firm McKinsey and Co. completed a study of the 2002 Invasion in Kabul and the 2003 Invasion in Baghdad. Its conclusions were inconclusive.
“True, both cities have seen large influxes of foreign visitors,” said L. L. Bean-Counter, senior analyst at McKinsey and principle author of the study. “But very few of them were actually tourists.” On the other hand, the study found, the death of an estimated 655,000 Iraqis, or nearly one out of every 40 persons, meant that each living person’s share of the GNP increased by 2.56 percent.
Reporting for this article was contributed by David Greenberg in Pyongyang, Melanie O’Rourke in Paris, and Sharlene on the corner of 42nd and Tenth. Her cell phone number again, in case you missed it, is 916 699-2323.
LETTER OF RESIGNATION, PAGE 3
[This publication has obtained from a reliable source the unreleased third page of the letter of resignation sent by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton to President George W. Bush on March 9, 2006. The text follows.]
Mr. President, as I pass through the great revolving door of the Interior Department, I can say with full conviction: Together we have reached the mountaintop. If I have one regret, it is that I must leave to my successor the noble task of removing the mountaintop and extracting the natural wealth that lies within.
In closing, I hope you will forgive me if I indulge in an “Interior” monologue about matters close to both our hearts.
For centuries, gazing awestruck at the glittering expanse of the night sky, humans have wondered: Are we alone in the universe? Or are there, somewhere in the vast blackness of space, other beings capable, like us, of living, loving, dying, decomposing, and forming deposits of fossil fuel?
The latest news from our space program suggests, incredibly, that the question may be answered in our lifetime.
As you may have heard, Mr. President, the Casino spacecraft has discovered geysers on Salada, an icy, tea-colored moon of Saturn. The implications are staggering For where there is water, there may be life. And where there is — or was — life, there may be oil, coal, or natural gas.
It has been said that on Chinese menus, the special of the day is both an opportunity and a danger. So it is with Salada.
According to the images sent by Casino, the geysers on Salada may tower several miles high, compared to a mere 182 ft. for Old Faithful. With respect, Mr. President, I say: mark my words! It is only a matter of time before we hear calls for these “natural wonders” to be protected — together, no doubt, with millions of surrounding acres (as in the case of Yellowstone).
If there is anything you have taught us over the past five years, it is that we must take the battle to the enemy. If we do not attack and preempt extremists in the “old-growth” stands of the Northwest and frozen wastes of Alaska, we may soon find the Washington Mall itself declared a National Park.
As my last official act as Secretary of the Interior, I intend, with your approval, to appoint a commission whose mandate will be to study the Salada problem with an open mind, applying state-of-the-art science and arriving at the following recommendation: that the entire moon (Salada) be processed as soon as possible and valuable deposits extracted, with the slag (remainder of Salada) to be deposited on Tighten, another moon of Saturn. Taking advantage of new technology spun off from the coal industry, this will present our opponents with a “fact on the ground,” foreclosing the possibility of future wilderness status.
Needless to say, this rests on the assumption that, if life still exists on Salada, it does not exist in a form more advanced than us, since in that case we would surely have heard from them by now! Most likely it consists of Saturnine versions of shellfish, ferns, and other humble creatures designed by the Creator, in His infinite wisdom, for the express purpose of turning into fuel.
We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that human-like beings live on Salada. If such were to be found, they would probably fall under the jurisdiction of this Department, specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The implications of this will surely not escape you. I have asked my friends at the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy to look into the possibility that our important work on behalf of the American people might, at some future time, be supported by a truly “offshore” revenue stream.
In truth, we have many mountains yet to climb.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Gale A. Norton