Art Buchwald: A Real Pain in the Axis

By Art Buchwald, Thursday, February 13, 2003,

Not only do we have to worry about an "Axis of Evil," but now we also have to worry about an "Axis of Friends."

What Axis of Friends are we talking about? I asked Foggy Big Bottom, the leading watcher of Axis allies at the State Department.

"The president is talking about the French, the Germans, the Russians and the Chinese."

"That's more countries than the Axis of Evil," I said.

"It's easy to know who your enemies are," said Big Bottom. "Your friends keep changing from day to day."

"I imagine the French are on the top of the list."

"On and off. They always have been. They like to come from a different place than we do. In diplomatic terms, they are a pain in the axis."

"I heard Don Rumsfeld say that -- diplomatically, of course."

"We think they are more interested in Iraq's oil than in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and they think we're more interested in overthrowing Hussein than in getting Iraq's oil."

"You are not thinking of boycotting French perfume unilaterally?"

"We are not ruling it out. We would also embargo French toast and French-fried potatoes."

"That might bring them to their knees."

"The president says this will be France's last chance. If they vote against us in the Security Council, Christian Dior will be carpet-bombed."

"What about Germany? They are one of the leading members of the Axis of Friends."

"With the Germans it's personal. They are more worried about their elections than they are about Saddam Hussein. The German chancellor has said many times, 'We didn't lose a war to do everything the United States wants us to do.' They are very much in bed with the French. At the same time, they want to sell their Mercedeses to the Arab world."

I said, "Another member of the axis is Russia."

"They don't like Hussein any more than the other allies, but they have a problem of their own. They have to keep the price of oil up. This means President Putin is afraid that any move on the part of the U.S. will cause an oil glut and the Russian economy will collapse."

"I don't understand that," I said.

"Neither do we, but we have to play nice with the Russians because they still have a lot of nuclear weapons to sell to the world."

"Speaking of nuclear weapons, is Pakistan a member of the Axis of Evil or the Axis of Friends, since it sold North Korea weapons of mass destruction?"

"We have to pretend it didn't happen because we need Pakistan's help in the war in Afghanistan."

"Lately everyone in the White House seems to consider the U.N. part of the Axis of Friends."

"We have to pretend they want to blow up Hussein but if the U.N. asks for more time, we will probably go it alone."

"What about Yemen?"

"That's not my department."