The Little Tug That Could

OR The Tail that Wagged the Dog

Professors Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Walt of Harvard are about to release a full-length book following up on their paper implicating the Israeli Lobby in ginning up the war on Iraq. I went to a local bookstore, hoping to catch sight of it. I discovered, however, that the book will not appear until September. When the paper appeared in the London Review of Books, having been been censored by the US media, the “left” addressed the M&W thesis in the form of a question, “Can the tail wag the dog”? This of course is a question posed in a way to answer itself, and hence no question at all.

Imagine my surprise when, while browsing about the book store, I happened on an unusual volume entitled “Aesop 21: Fables for the 21st Century.” Fable #911 caught my eye because it was entitled, of all things, “Can the tail wag the dog”? But I could not figure it out, because there was no tail much less a dog in the fable. The story went like this:

The giant nuclear aircraft carrier had closed down its all-seeing bridge and handed control over to the tugboats. As the sun set, there was one lone tug pushing the behemoth, and it was busy pushing and pushing, pushing away in one direction. Always in the same direction, the little David moving the stupendous Goliath did not let up.

Most hands were below deck waiting impatiently to go ashore.

Only two lone sailors watched from the aircraft landing deck on high, far above the water as the tug moved the steel giant about. Suddenly the two lowly sailors realized that the tug was pushing the steel monster, not into the intended, welcoming channel, but ominously and relentlessly toward the shore.

The two sailors were scared out of their wits. One said to the other, “Something is amiss,” and the other replied, “Yes, something is awry.” On the shore were scores of giant petroleum storage tanks. The amiss sailor looked at the awry sailor and they both ran for the bridge and the commanding officer. There he was sitting comfortably at his desk sharing a drink with the second in command.

Sailor Amiss, breathless from the run, cried out, “Something is amiss. Our great carrier is being pushed aground by the tug.” The second officer, Lt. O’Witz calmly eyeing Sailor Amiss, turned to the befuddled commander, Captain MoreRon, and said in a very pontificating and self-assured tone, “Sir, Sailor Amiss is an alarmist. We are on course.” Commander MoreRon, who had changed his last name out of his admiration for Ronald Reagan whom he sought to emulate, put down his J&B. Somewhat quizzically, he addressed Lt. O’Witz by his first name, Wolfhard, “Wolf, I sensed that we were going the wrong way. Are you sure we should not take a look outside”? Lt. O’Witz retorted, “Sir, we are right on track. And I should warn you that this intruding sailor is well known to me. He is an anti-tugite (rhymes with “slug fight”) and has a deep paranoia when it comes to the tugs.” Commander MoreRon was quite incensed and turned to Sailor Amiss with one eye half closed in indignation. With a slight slur that came of one too many J&B’s, he proclaimed: “Sailor Amiss, you have broken into my command quarters and now you are spouting anti-tugite nonsense. If you do not desist, I will have you court-martialed for anti-tugite bigotry.” “Quite right, sir,” echoed Lt. O’Witz beaming heartily.

But the other watchful sailor, Sailor Awry, chimed in. “Commander MoreRon, Sailor Amiss is right. I saw it too. We have only a few minutes to turn on the engines and save our vessel from coming to grief by going aground. And I am no anti-tugite. In fact I was a tug captain for many years before joining the Navy.” “Sir,” Lt. O’Witz interrupted, “Pay him no heed. We have seen his type before, and they are the worst. They are self-hating, no, self-loathing tugites. They are beyond reason in their self-hatred.” Commander MoreRon looked at the second in command and then with his left eye squinting at the two sailors, he shouted, “Enough of your bigotry. Clap them both in the brig, Lieutenant O’Witz.”

But his command was interrupted by a great rumble as the carrier trembled beneath them. The carrier had been run aground by the tug. The tug for its part had pulled free and was sailing off. Then the carrier began to roll on its side. Some fires broke out, and it toppled onto the great oil tanks ashore. Flames roared to the skies, and explosions began to engulf the carrier, the shore and the nearby city. But unbeknownst to the tug crew, the carrier was bristling with nuclear weapons. As the temperature rose, the first of these exploded and then another and another until the harbor, city and region were engulfed in radioactive fire and death.

The superb warning systems of the US government detected nuclear explosions which were interpreted as a nuclear attack on a US city. Quickly, dutiful officers launched nuclear missiles from deep underground. Nuclear bombers, in every direction, targeted every suspect nation. And those nations responded. Soon the globe was on fire and nuclear winter followed cold on the heels of the fire. The world ended first by fire and then by ice.

Moral: The tail can easily wag the dog — but only if there is a dog to begin with.

Or, the only thing worse than a Holocaust is a Nuclear Holocaust.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. DetainThis said on August 29th, 2007 at 12:32pm #

    Well-put, Dr. Walsh.

  2. Ramblin Hobo said on August 30th, 2007 at 7:42am #

    While I run the risk of being labeled, and I do consider myself a political conservative (not as a group but as an ideology), the story is stupid and has no Moral because the story doesn’t make sense in the first place. To have a working moral like the Tortise and the Hare, The Lady and the Tiger, or the boy who cried wolf, you have to have a working story to start with. Maybe if you have never been around a Navy ship, let alone an Aircraft Carrier, this would make a reasonable story. I have much more to say, and when I have done some research I will.

    Notice – The information contained in this communication is solely the opinion of the writer and in no way representative of any organization the writer may be associated with in any way.

  3. gerald spezio said on August 31st, 2007 at 1:52pm #

    Whaddaya, a dirty rotten anti-semite? Zionist Israel Firsters are smaht. Many of them are trained lawyers who know dalaw. They took over the U.S. Government and used the mericun military to turn Iraq into rubble, didn’t they? They got mericuns murdering Iraqis as we vent. The Iraqi people are getting murdered big time, just like the Palestinian untermenschen. Hardly anybody says shid about it, either. This ain’t smaht?

    The smaht Zionists are laughing their arses off as working class mericuns on the fascist dole get blown to smithereens. All for the promised land and the chosen people. Smaht.

    Memba, smaht lawyer Joe Lieberman, the Zionist Senator from Israel, was Al Gore’s running mate just six years ago. And keep focusing on the oil too. And the Halocaust – the Halocaust. The only Halocaust. Not the Palestinian Halocaust. No, not the Palestinian or the Iraqi Halocaust. Not even the Armenian whatever.

    Mearshimer and Walt are anti-semites. Dershowitz, Lieberman, Pipes, Gaffney, Foxman, and the Defamation Colossus have some career ending venom for those smaht asses.

  4. hp said on September 1st, 2007 at 4:46pm #

    The very same “special friend” that aided its very special friend, south Africa, develop an atomic weapon.
    Hey, no harm, no foul. We’re special.

  5. Joseph Anderson said on September 4th, 2007 at 2:46pm #

    John, all:

    You might find my DissidentVoice article, _THE LEFT AND THE ISRAEL LOBBY_ (published in June 8, 2006) of incisve interest on this issue. And check out Jeffrey Blankfort’s DissidentVoice article, _YES, BLAME THE LOBBY_ (April 11, 2006), and anything else by him on this issue (all available online) re the Israel lobby and the left, as well as on Israel itself and the left (especially on Chomsky). Also, see Blankfort’s very compelling article, _A WAR FOR ISRAEL_ (available online).

    Quite unfortunately for Palestinian human rights and much of the safety and lives of tens of millions in the Middle East, the Western left has been royally hoodwinked and anti-Semite-baited (or Jewish self-loathing-baited) into giving Israel and its U.S./Western lobby a special pass when it comes to decades-long mass human rights violations and racism on an international scale.

    Zionists often claim that those of us on the left who are anti-racist and pro-human rights activists who support Palestinian human rights have singled out Israel for questionably “special treatment”. The real problem with most of the American/Western left is that, indeed, Israel *has* been singled out for “special treatment”, by *ignoring* the decades-long massive scale of racist human rights violations that we would not morally tolerate from any other country (like, formerly, apartheid South Africa). Zionists (the once brutally mass oppressed become the now brutal mass oppressors) have promulgated the (when will it be tired?) belief that the onnnly reason anyone could possibly be interested in the human rights of yet, in turn, now another “despised minority” in modern history is due to “anti-Semitism”.

    Yet, now Zionists (and always Zionist-backed nationally touring advocates in the U.S.) have the disgusting, disingenuous, exploitative *nerve* to suddenly ‘champion’ the relief of black-African suffering, “genocide”, in Darfur at the hands of “Muslim Arabs”, as a PR way to divert attention from Israel. (But, like the people of Darfur, the Sudanese govt and the Janjaweed are also black and generally Muslim: there is no phenotypical or, by and large, religious difference.) Such sheer Zionist duplicity is, as Norman Finkelstein would say, sheer chutzpah!

    Finally, see the incisive letter to the editor, “WITHOUT THE LOBBY”, by Grif Fariello, in al-Ahram Weekly (English edition), 6 – 12 April 2006, Issue No. 789, Readers’ corner, online.

    Joseph Anderson

    Berkeley, CA

  6. Jacob said on October 2nd, 2007 at 9:04pm #

    Joseph Anderson,
    you are wrong about there being no difference between the Arab Sudanese and the “southerners”. of course by American standards most of the Northerners are “black”, but there is great variation and the “high society” are invariably relatively light skinned, as are Libyan and other north African Arabs. you can choose to despise Israel and say that the “zionists” are using this genocide to deflect attention from the “genocide” they are committing, but as my Sudanese friend tells me – he is from the Abijha people but his culture has been erased – he only speaks Arabic, his peoples’ language being repressed, and as one considered “black” he is referred to as an “azrag” (ie “blue” person) or ‘Abd – slave. a jew-hating, high-‘plexioned american like you would surely pass for one of the racist master caste in Sudan, so it shouldn’t worry you over much. keep blaming the zionists.
    Zimbabwe, Africa