This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation in our family. I know you’re going to love it! And it’s so easy to make--almost foolproof. Even a dunce, if he follows the directions carefully, can whip up a war in only a few months. A steady diet of this tasty treat isn’t advisable, but as an occasional course, it promotes popularity and wins elections. Goes especially well with economic downturns. Not recommended for the thoughtful or tenderhearted.
Step 1: Assemble your main ingredients. Begin by demonizing the leader of the country you wish to attack. Stir constantly in the press and on TV talk shows until the desired image is firmly implanted. Important: You cannot compare him too often to Hitler! This strategy has consistently produced the desired results for us. (See “Manuel Noriega,” “Osama bin Laden,” and “Saddam Hussein.”) Ignore any references to the fact that previously your country curried favor with the demon; supplied him with money and arms; and cheerfully overlooked any corruption, massacres, or human rights abuses he might have been a party to.
Step 2: Portray the intended victim as a threat to the United States or vital U.S. interests.
Don’t be deterred by the fact that most of the nations you wish to attack will be far too distant and too weak for this to seem credible. References to classified “intelligence reports” purportedly documenting the threat may be introduced to the recipe at this point. Some variant of the formula “Release of this information could compromise ongoing diplomatic efforts as well as intelligence or law enforcement investigations or operations” has proven consistently effective. What can your opposition do? Since the supposed documentation is classified, this leaves the war’s opponents fumbling for answers. Highly recommended.
Step 3: If at all possible, provoke a “provocation.” Send warplanes into the victim’s air space. Seize upon affronts to U.S. citizens; exaggerate wildly if necessary. (See “Panama.”) If unable to secure the necessary provocation, stage one (see “Gulf of Tonkin”) or insist there is a link between the victim and an earlier attacker. (See “World Trade Center” and “Saddam Hussein.”)
Step 4: Reiterate frequently that you view war as a last resort, and that you will do everything possible to settle this matter diplomatically, while in fact doing everything possible to make diplomacy unworkable. Simultaneously, proceed full speed ahead with mobilization for your intended invasion. ("When I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man and that we will look at all options and we will consider all technologies available to us, and diplomacy and intelligence.")
Step 5: Keep new justifications for the war in reserve, and introduce them to the mix promptly as opponents begin to undercut earlier justifications. This frustrates your opponents, who operate under the delusion that they can reason their way out of war. The resulting confusion works to your advantage; the public assumes that “Where there’s so much smoke, there must be a fire.” (Examples: “Saddam Hussein’s possesses huge stores of weapons of mass destruction which pose an immediate threat to the United States.” “We have to act before we have mushroom clouds floating over our cities.” “There are links between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist al-Qaeda network.” “He is a cruel dictator who has done terrible things to his own people.” “We are planting seeds of freedom and democracy in that part of the world.”)
Step 6: Disregard grassroots opposition and initial public distaste for war. History shows that, once our troops go into battle, the majority of the public will confuse supporting their sons and daughters with supporting the war.
Step 7: How a dish is presented is an important part of the total dining experience. Garnish with martial music, an abundance of flags, and red, white, and blue bunting.
Step 8: Push through the initial opposition and place troops under fire. Turn up the heat. At the point where our people are dying, anger and solidarity kick in, and your dish is nearly done.
Step 9: Do not leave troops in the oven too long. Public support can cool quickly, leading to deflated polls.
© Tony Russell, 2003