Or, The Slave of
Much of what US
President George W Bush and his representatives
have said lately might have been extracted from a
W S Gilbert libretto. To put the matter in
context, I have sketched the sort of libretto that
Gilbert might have prepared for Arthur Sullivan
were the pair alive today, and embedded in it some
of these utterances.  Links to MIDI files for
the songs are provided in footnotes, and readers
are encouraged to sing along with Spengler. Direct
quotations from US officials are indicated by
The Oval Office
of White House officials: 
Pour the democratic sherry,The
President: How many
terrorists have we actually caught?
the democratic ale,
And to make us more than
Let democracy prevail!
the force of human freedom
Break the reign
of hatred when,
We have planted 'em and
Fire in the minds of men.
For every ruler and every nation
will clarify the choice.
Free dissent and
Helping them to find their own
Secretary of State
Actually, we haven't caught any at
all. Every time we catch one, we ask him whether
he is a true democrat at heart, and invariably he
replies in the affirmative, leaving us no choice
but to turn him loose. 
is a conundrum. After all, we want to encourage
The Secretary of
State: It is even
more paradoxical than that. It appears that there
are no terrorists, at least by a strict
interpretation of the definition you included in
your last National Security Directive.
But surely that cannot be the case, for
in the National Security Directive we defined
terrorists as persons engaged in the act of
Secretary of State: That's just
the problem. It's the use of the present tense. If
you had said "engaged in the act of terrorism
until the day before yesterday", or "through the
end of the last fiscal year", Guantanamo Bay would
be overflowing with prisoners. But under your
definition we cannot call someone a terrorist
unless we catch him at the precise moment that he
detonates his bomb-belt, and that presents
logistical problems of a special nature.
(All sing: "A paradox, a paradox, a most
ingenious paradox! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! A
President: But everyone
expects me to pursue a war on terror. How can I do
this if there are no terrorists, except for the
ones flying apart at the precise moment of
President: Actually, you never
promised a war on terrorists.
The President: I
President: No, you promised a war
on terror. That is another thing altogether.
Firefighters do not fight fires until one actually
ignites. They don't go about confiscating matches.
You only need to pursue a war on terror when an
act of terror is occurring.
under my definition that would only be true for an
President: So it would
President: And in between those
instants we must assume they are democrats gone
wrong. I first said that Hezbollah is on the
terrorist list for a reason: because they have
killed Americans in the past, and they are a
violent organization. I like the idea of people
running for office. It's a positive effect when
you run for office, you know. Maybe someone will
run for office and say, "Vote for me, I look
forward to blowing up America." I don't know. I
don't know if that'll be their platform or
(The President with White House
When the suicidal bomber's not
But surely an organization must be "terrorist" if
at any given moment one of its members is engaged
in a terrorist act. Take Hezbollah. They killed
hundreds of American Marines with a truck bomb,
and otherwise have murdered 800 people in 200
separate attacks. Surely the activities of the
sufficiently continuous to permit us to designate
them as "terrorists".
When the sniper
isn't looking down his sight,
There is nothing in their actions
surely not a pretext for a fight.
I had promised them a bully war on
(War on terror)
But of terrorists
made not a mention one,
Let's assume the other fellow was in
(Was in error)
And if asked to,
will make plowshares of his gun.
(Oh! But of
terrorists he made not mention one, mention
And we hope they will make plowshares of
their gun, of their gun.)
Secretary of State David Satterfield:
upon which Hezbollah you mean, sir.
What do you mean, "Which
Satterfield: Our concern is with
Hezbollah's engagement - globally and
regionally - in violence and terror. That is the
concern. Not Hezbollah as a political force
President: How shall we find
out which Hezbollah it is that we
Satterfield: Let us send an
ambassador to ask them.
II: The Rocky Shore of the Mediterranean, Near
(Hezbollah militiamen carousing. Sheikh
Hasan Nasrullah enters.)
Sheikh Nasrullah, there is a message from the
Great Satan. The Great Satan requests that we lay
down our arms and adopt to parliamentary
Nasrullah: You know that our sacred
principles require us to repudiate such offers
unless, of course, we are caught, in which case we
declare ourselves to be the most ardent democrats
in order to regain our freedom.
But what shall we tell the Great
Nasrullah: As we have not been caught
yet, and are not likely to be soon, we shall
proclaim our defiance! (Sings) 
Oh better far to live and
dieNasrullah: Have you inventoried
our stockpile of rockets?
Under the bright green flag I
Than to take a sanctimonious bent
to stand for a seat in the parliament!
never will lay down my arms.
Until they give
up the Saabah farms,
And climb back down from
the Golan Heights,
They'd better prepare for
For I'm on a mission from
(Chorus: Yes! Yes! He's on a mission
And although you may find this
I'm on a mission from
Great Sheikh. They are 8,000 count.
And our stockpiles of explosives?
Enough to blow up a thousand barracks - full of
Nasrullah: Then let us continue our
Lieutenant: But hark! Who is it that so
rashly intrudes upon our camp?
Ambassador: Stay your
hand! For the new era of democracy is upon you!
I am the very model of a State
Department DiplomatHezbollah chorus:
I've studied your
geography from Sinai through to Ararat
speak of local dialects a smidgen and a
And spend my time at cocktail
parties gossiping and chattering.
I know a
charging rhino from a bathing
and trace my genealogy to
I dine at Arab
restaurants in Mayfair and Belgravia
memorize the dialogue from Lawrence of
Arabia. When I can promise Syria a leaseback
on the Golan Height
When I can tell a Twelver
from a Sunni or a Maronite
In short when you
are ready to expostulate: "Let's gas the
You'll think I'm an exemplary American
In short, when we are ready to
expostulate: "Let's gas the bore!"First Hezbollah
You shall pay dearly for this
tasteless lampoon, Ambassador.
he's an exemplary American
As a matter of fact, we have ways of
dealing with people like you.
For this man is here under my protection.
We just wanted to play with
Second Hezbollah militiaman: Especially
with his head.
Nasrullah: This would be a
convenient moment, ambassador, for you to explain
the purpose of your visit before I allow my men a
harmless diversion from their grim and weary
Ambassador: We are led, by events
and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival
of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the
success of liberty in other lands. The best hope
for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom
in all the world. So it is the policy of the
United States to seek and support the growth of
democratic movements and institutions in every
nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of
ending tyranny in our world. I charge you
yield in Democracy's name!
We hear these words on
We yearn, like all of mankind, to
What from common
cutthroats sets my men apart
Is that they are
invariably democrats at heart.
would not presume to ask true democrats to lay down
their arms. Would you perhaps find it convenient,
however, to change your name to something
less menacing, for example, "The Lebanese
Lieutenant: What's the catch?
Nasrullah: There is no catch. We shall simply
state that the phase of armed resistance has
ended, adopt the uniform of the Lebanese Army, and
arrange for the speedy retirement of the army's
present officer corps. As we shall make up the
largest block of seats in the parliament, we in
our capacity as a political party shall stand
surety for our control of the army. As for armed
resistance: Should certain of you choose to form a
splinter faction committed to the bombing of
American installations, for example, we should
deplore this course of action, just as Yasser
Arafat did when he set up the al-Aksa Brigades. No
one ever called Arafat to account! Unless we were
to catch you in the very act of detonating a bomb,
we could not in good conscience describe you as
terrorists. Every third man, fall out and join the
Ambassador: Your democratic
instincts tug at the American heartstring and,
more pertinently, at the American checkbook. The
Palestinian Authority is floating upon a sea of
generosity after having embraced democracy, and
the same happy state of affairs well might apply
to you. (Sings) 
Poor Wand'ring One!Endnotes:
hast surely strayed,
Take heart of
Thy steps retrace,
Poor Wand'ring One!
If some American
Can make you vote,
On you we'll
And trust me, you'll get
example, "The Pirates of Penzance, Or, The Slave
of Duty". This libretto is available along with
musical examples here.
2. To the tune
of Pour, Oh Pour the Pirate
3. From George W Bush's
Second Inaugural Address. Italicized passages are
direct quotations from the statements of US
4. The Pirates of Penzance were so
tenderhearted as to refrain from stealing from
orphans. As all of their captives claimed to be
orphans, they had to let them all go.
5. To the
tune of When the Felon's Not Engaged in His
6. To the tune of The Pirate King's Song.
7. To the tune of I Am a Very Model of a Modern
8. Rumored by the
Beirut Daily Star, March 19, 2005.
9. To the
tune of Poor Wand'ring One.
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