Q: How do you know your country's in big trouble?
A: When the U.S. government creates a deck of cards with your leader on the Ace of Spades.
As a culture, America has become extremely adept at distilling international conflict into collectible items, widely touted via spam e-mail. For example, everybody realized our latest war had the potential to be far more entertaining than Vietnam when one Central Command briefing featured Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, holding up a sample of what is now known as "The Iraqi Deck of Death" and explaining that each playing card depicted a character on the Army's Most Wanted list.
This event turned out to be the official opening day for Silly Season, especially after subsequent reports appeared: the first five desperados captured actually formed a straight flush.
Then we heard about some of the other idiots surfacing in Paris, using the deck as a pick-up line: "See? This is me - the nine of clubs!" Of course, status-conscious French women refused to put out for any fugitive who was less than a face card.
In hindsight, our military pulled off one of the greatest strategic moves in the history of warfare by showcasing Iraqi men on the four Queens, instead of reserving those female cards for wanted Iraqi women. Due to the inherent machismo of Arabic traditions, this virtually assured the four guys in question would quickly decide it was toaster-in-the-tub time. Evidently it doesn't matter how much back hair you're sporting, when the whole world sees your mug shot on the Queen of Diamonds.
There was one inexplicable omission from the card deck: Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the dauntless Iraqi Information Minister also known as Baghdad Bob, author of the following classic quotes:
"Yes, the American troops have advanced further. This will only make it easier for us to defeat them."
"They are trapped in Umm Qasr. They are trapped near Basra. They are trapped near Nasiriyah. They are trapped near Najaf. They are trapped everywhere."
"We will welcome them with bullets and shoes."
However, Baghdad Bob can take consolation in the fact that he's been immortalized as a talking doll . . . which probably means he, too, will take the macho way out.
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