Meet Alex Han

In These Times is growing: We’re excited to announce that labor organizer and activist Alex Han has joined us as the new Executive Director.

Dear ITT Ideologist: Vexatious Nations and Komunists

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

As an informed citizen, I keep a list of vexatious nations so that, in the event of a crisis, I can look them up in my atlas and note their size, population, location, tungsten production, dairy herds, etc. I notice my list hasn’t changed much in recent decades. Is that good or bad? 

—R. McNally, Skokie, Ill. 

Dear Rand,

Like many things in life, it’s a bit of both. On the sentimental side, we’ve grown accustomed to our foes. They almost make the day begin. On the substantive side, the older they grow, the harder it is to make a menace of them. 

The oldest and dearest is North Korea, which has spent 60 years on our threat board. Cuba is now celebrating its 50th anniversary as an ever-present danger to the western hemisphere. And it’s already 30 years that we’ve been expecting the Shi’ite to hit the fan in Iran. 

Venezuela has been menacing our backyard for a decade. And for the last couple of years, we’ve warned of mischief making in Bolivia, Ecuador and, once again, our old favorite, Nicaragua. As a man of the world, you should know that our problem is that these nations are disobedient rather than dangerous. Diplomatic and political niceties necessitate that we pretend to respect their sovereignty even as we scheme to overthrow and dominate them. Thus we label them dangerous” to subvert those restraints and keep the pot bubbling. A robust threat list is, after all, the best tonic for a bounteous military budget. 

In reality, our threat list should be growing, since ever fewer countries are doing our bidding. But acknowledging so much defiance would alarm the public. Thus we keep the list, with its familiar cast, basically the same. By the way, what is the state of dairying in North Korea?

Deer ITT Ideeit,

Gwen Beck says Obama put a lot of sars in the govmint. Sars are from Rusya and that’s komunistical. Did yoo heer about it? Or are yoo a dem, too? 

—Y.A. Hoo, Hoopleville, Ind. 

Dear Mr. Hoo, 

I began to hear about it on Mr. Beck’s show. It was as I was driving my one-way rental truck, filled with all my belongings, into the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel on my way to Toronto. So I briefly lost the signal. When I exited on the Canadian side, Beck was crying inconsolably, having discovered that the words e pluribus unum” on the dollar bill were actually communistical propaganda inserted by the same Kenyan cabal that planted Obama’s birth announcement in the Honolulu newspapers. I switched to a Maple Leafs game and sped up.

Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Get the whole story: Subscribe to In These Times magazine.