By Ciro Scotti When the Red Planet pulled up closer to the RedWhiteandBlue Planet last Aug. 27 at 9:51 Universal Time, a visitor dropped down to take a measure of our world. After more than two months of observation, the report filed by he/she/it (sort of a Michael Jackson with antennae) has been brought to Neutral's attention (though not, to point out the obvious, by any U.S. intelligence agency).
MEMO: To the Armies of Mars
SUBJECT: Greenish Planet
Life in many forms abounds on this cosmic sphere the natives call Earth, but a quirky, bickering, mostly industrious bunch called humans seem to dominate. (It should be noted, though, that many appear to revere and coddle smaller beasts they describe as pets, who do absolutely no work at all.)
Among these humans, the group that holds sway over all the others is a tribe called the Americans, neither the most numerous nor the most bellicose (more on that later). However, it comprises elements of all the other human groups, save for a couple of obscure tribal species.
The Americans are a hard-working lot and undoubtedly the most technologically advanced and free-thinking. They are also inveterate consumers of the planet's resources -- including great quantities of unimaginably hideous foodstuffs. At times, the rest of the planet seems resigned to serving them, whether it be through offerings of raw materials like a curious oozy black liquid or trips to sandy islands amidst the warm seas where the Americans burn themselves badly in the fiery sunshine.
AT THE NUB. The land of the Americans is ruled by a forbidding bunch who are called Republicans, or the GOP, which is believed to stand for Gods of Politics. The emperor of the Republicans is named Bush and is a male of the species. (Humans and other Earth creatures have two distinct models, although in the case of humans, the non-child-bearing version seems to be evolving into extinction with the emergence of a transitional figure called the metrosexual.)
This Bush is a odd choice as emperor. While possessed of a certain canniness, an engaging manner, and craggy good looks, he is not the sharpest point in the pencilbox. And he sometimes seems challenged when he attempts to communicate with his people.
Emperor Bush rose to power by promising to be honest, frank, and compassionate, and by vowing that he would make life better for every American. Not all the people were behind him -- especially those who live in something called the Blue States -- but Bush's opponents, named Gore and Nader, were rejected because they were apparently replicants from other planets.
ODD MATH. As stated earlier, while the Americans are not a warlike people -- though well-armed and sometimes violent toward one another -- they had invaded another nation a short time before your humble observer landed. They conquered the place called Iraq with scary swiftness but are now having difficulty in subjugating the inhabitants. That has led to a dispute over the reasons they went to battle.
Emperor Bush had warned that the Americans would not be safe unless the bloodthirsty ruler of Iraq was eradicated. Two years earlier, the populace might not have been so quick to believe him, but the cocoon of invincibility in which Americans had lived was shattered by a vicious attack on a day they now consider synonymous with infamy: September 11. The perpetrators of that attack were of a breed similar to that of Iraq, though they were not from Iraq and at this writing had no demonstrable connection to Iraq.
Still, in this case, 2 and 1 made 4. Not that the invasion was a bad thing. The Americans removed a cruel yoke from the necks of another people. But if no link existed between September 11 and Iraq, then why did Emperor Bush act when he did? There was strong opposition from an ineffective intraplanetary council called the U.N. (I believe that stands for "Unilateral? Nah!" or possibly "eUnuch Nations," based on descriptions in the humans' media.) And now new reports suggest that in order to stave off attack, the Iraqi regime may have been willing to make significant concessions.
HOLY KILLERS. Iraq sits on more of that oozy black liquid referred to earlier than any other nation, save for a place called Saudi Arabia (which is where most of the September 11 attackers originated). Bush and some advisers were in the oil business. The leader of Iraq once wanted to assassinate Bush's father, a previous emperor. And a cabal of Bush advisers, called neocons, have long been interested in pacifying Iraq because it was considered a threat to a third nation they support, Israel.
At the root of the ill will between Israel, Iraq, and other neighboring lands is something humans call religion. While the people of this region have common ancestors, they can't agree on who tells the right story about an invisible yet all-powerful being that they think controls the cosmos. And so they kill each other.
These humans are quite a curious lot. They have vast resources and vistas that would delight any array of Martian eyes. Yet they are loath to share their wealth and are intent on spoiling their landscape. Instead of harmony, they seem to prefer mauling each other in the name of transitory riches or whatever supreme being they happen to embrace.
It is a frankly frustrating planet, and the day is certainly not far off when humans will obliterate themselves in a cloud of unholy vengeance. My considered opinion is: Why attack? We only have to wait. When he's not channeling Martians, Scotti is senior editor for government and sports business at BusinessWeek. His column A Not-So-Neutral Corner appears only on BusinessWeek Online