Attack U.S. and win aid.
January 28, 2002 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Attack U.S. and win aid. Is Afghanistan the 'Mouse that Roared'? Why is Afghanistan rewarded with an outpouring of aid? The reason is simple: U.S. forces defeated Afghanistan's regime and Americans now feel responsible for fixing the country. This reflects the "mouse that roared" syndrome, named after the 1959 movie starring Peter Sellers in no less than three roles. It told the story of a tiny Europe duchy, Grand Fenwick, which finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy and decides to declare war on America in order to lose, then profit from the resulting aid.
posted by Rastafari (20 comments total)
yea, i bet that was the motivation all along!
posted by rhyax at 3:51 PM on January 28, 2002

Actually, the movie is based on the book of the same name, by a guy called "Wibberly", I can't remember his first name, though, and I'm too lazy to look it up, even if I am actually sitting at the reference desk.
posted by djfiander at 3:54 PM on January 28, 2002

The fact is that U.S. leaders now have, what they didn't have before, a political mandate to prevent future terrorist acts despite high costs (loss of personal freedoms, billions of tax dollars, etc.).

Helping ensure that the new government in Afghanistan stays on its feet is one way to try and keep the terrorists out of there. It was a valuable base of operations for them, and one we'd like not to let them have back.
posted by mattpfeff at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2002

The US is paying now because it neglected to pay ten years ago.
posted by raaka at 4:32 PM on January 28, 2002

My suspicion is that it goes much deeper than what is being said here. For which, see OIL and Natural Gas under my post that begins with The Scrable in you will see names of people you know from the present and the past, including James Baker, who worked for Bush I and who was bigshot "fixer" on Florida eledtion; Israeli intelligence, Bush family, and of course Enron. Why, for example, has the economically down-at-heels Japan suddenly giving 300 million? And China jumping in too to help out?
posted by Postroad at 4:40 PM on January 28, 2002

Absurd is the word i can think of about for this theory.
posted by adnanbwp at 4:43 PM on January 28, 2002

Afghanistan didn't attack the US. Osama bin Laden and his AL Qaida organization did. Geesh.
posted by waffleboy at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2002

great book, funny movie, hilarious post. Pity a few MeFiers couldn't see your tongue there in your cheek. I laughed heartily.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:06 PM on January 28, 2002

Thanks Ty, for getting it.
posted by Rastafari at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2002

Hardly. The REAL reason that the US got into a spat with Afganistan is to distract the media from Bush's patetic presedency (and corruption). Chances are that Bush knew Enron would hit the fan before the war was started, before even the terrorist attacks. Anyone else recall rumours that the US was going to attack the Taliban anyway, before 9/11?

(Yes, I only half believe this, but it's not bad as conspiracy theories go.)
posted by krisjohn at 5:43 PM on January 28, 2002

I love that movie, haven't read the book i'm afraid.
posted by th3ph17 at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2002

the movie is based on the book of the same name, by a guy called "Wibberly"

That would be Leonard Wibberley, who wrote many wonderful novels. I loved THE MOUSE THAT ROARED, but the sequel, THE MOUSE ON THE MOON, is even better -- Grand Fenwick beats both the USA and Russia to the moon.
posted by hit-or-miss at 7:25 PM on January 28, 2002

My god! Don't talk about this Wibberley fellow in public! You've revealed the Master Plan™ behind all the events of the previous year!

Fortunately, the pipeline cover story still works for some people.


Anyway, first of all, the Wibberley story is itself based on the very real premise of the Marshall Plan, although that had somewhat different geo-strategic objectives.

But Pipes is being a little cheeky himself with this column. It's not even so much the value of Afghanistan as a secure state in South Asia that doesn't export terrorism, although that in itself is a tremendously valuable thing. There's a deeper purpose to this involvement: we're trying to create a demonstration project, the carrot to balance the stick, and if the people in the administration are thinking as deeply and precognitively as I suppose, one of the hopes (against hope, given history) is that we can turn Afghanistan into a model secular Muslim democracy, roles that other states have often aspired to but frequently fail (e.g. Pakistan). In a very optimistic scenario, this could have the effect of blowing democratic winds into Iran and Central Asia as well as back toward the peninsula. That's why it's worth $300M. This may not all come to pass -- but we have to try.

raaka: Of course, the US was a party to the 1989 agreement based on a cease-fire after the Soviet withdrawal, but there was no cease-fire; then the US was party to an agreement with the USSR to end all military aid to both sides. There was copious humanitarian aid entering the country at this time, and the US withdrew support because everybody in the country was fighting everyone else. The promise of aid was not enough to stop fighting. (But of course today we're supposed to second-guess that decision, because Everything is Always the Fault of the US.)
posted by dhartung at 8:27 PM on January 28, 2002

“The promise of aid was not enough to stop fighting.”

I wonder if that would wash with an example from history.

France to the colonies circa 1776: Stop fighting your enemy or we won’t give you any aid!

I totally blame France helping win the war and rebuilding the country. Like a responsible nation, it understood the consquences of it’s actions, instead of acting like a schizophrenic parent.
posted by raaka at 11:19 PM on January 28, 2002

From the article:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell pledged $297 million... the largest amount from any single country.

This is a lie. Japan pledged nearly $500 million. As for the US tallies for Tajikistan and elsewhere being used to justify his point, they are pathetic.
posted by dydecker at 6:20 AM on January 29, 2002

dydecker, This is a lie? Way to throw stones at Pipes, a respected analyst. In fact, he states it is the largest amount in the first year. The $500M from Japan is spread over 2.5 years, meaning only about $200M the first year.

raaka: The true analogy would be if after France helping us win independence, the 13 colonies had begun fighting among themselves, rather than quickly agreeing to constitute a combined government. It didn't last (the Articles of Confederation), but apart from some very minor skirmishes, it united the entire seaboard.

If you're looking for responsibility, why not place even one little ounce of that responsibility on the Afghans, who failed to unite and chose war over stable government? They've had constitutions and agreements and interim administrations and rotating leaderships before. But aid dropped blindly into chaos won't eliminate the chaos.
posted by dhartung at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2002

I was told a joke by a friend some South Africa along these lines; they used to say that if the troubles got really bad, they'd go and declare war on America, lose, and then get all the aid. And then someone asked, "But what if we win...?"
posted by adrianhon at 9:09 AM on January 29, 2002

"But what if we win...?"

That was one of the premises of The Mouse That Roared. Grand Fenwick actually won the war (longbows and Q-bombs are a fearsome combination). Launching the invasion during a nationwide civil defense drill helped a lot.

Perhaps a more definitive example of the spoils of victory could come from Vietnam.
posted by joaquim at 12:05 PM on January 29, 2002

In fact, he states it is the largest amount in the first year

No. In fact, it's the largest amount in a single year and of any single country. Gotta get yr qualifiers all lined up see, so you can get those phrase largest amount for maximum propaganda effect.
posted by dydecker at 12:34 PM on January 29, 2002

Oops. That should be:

In fact, he states it is the largest amount in the first year

No. In fact, it's the largest amount 'in a single year' and 'of any single country'. Gotta get yr qualifiers all lined up see, so you can get that phrase largest amount out for maximum propaganda effect.
posted by dydecker at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2002

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