"The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds." ~ Isaiah Berlin
Minerva, Chapter 32
'The next issue,' boomed the moderator, 'is the situation with Minerva. If elected, how would your administration handle the lawless island? Senator Stumpel, it's your turn to start.'
'The unfortunate situation with Minerva,' the senator said, looking into the television camera, 'is the result of a failure of leadership and diplomacy. With all due respect to President Lympman, he has always been a champion of domestic affairs. But when it comes to the international arena, well, you need someone at the helm with experience in foreign affairs. Now before serving three satisfying terms as senator from the lovely state of Virginia, I spent fifteen years in the Central Intelligence Agency. When you spend a good deal of time working with classified material, you began to get a feel for how the leaders of other countries really think. You start to understand how to deal with these people, on their level. And so, as I say, with all due respect, I think the hostilities with Minerva are a result of President Lympman and his administration not having the requisite experience in foreign affairs. Of course no one wants to point fingers at this point in the game, but there was never a problem under the Greene Administration.'
That son of a bitch, Black thought.
'Thank you, Senator Stumpel,' the moderator said. 'Same question, Vice President Black: If elected, how would you handle the anarchist threat?'
'If elected,' Black began, trying to bury his fury at Stumpel, 'I would continue the same strategy of nonviolent containment that has been so successful under the leadership of President Lympman. My overriding concern will be, as it has always been, to protect the interests of the American people while minimizing the harm to innocent Minervan children. Our economic blockade is an unfortunate necessity to achieve compliance with international law, but we must never forget that such a policy will always adversely affect the underprivileged the hardest. Now, I recognize that many of my peers in the faithful opposition wish a more aggressive response to the attack on our space assets, but the American people certainly do not want their brave sons and daughters sent into a battle that can be avoided. Under a plan that I proposed, the current administration has pursued the matter in the Minervan courts, and the U.S. government actually won a settlement, receiving full financial restitution for the damage to our satellites. We've also pumped millions of dollars into educational campaigns to raise awareness on the island of their responsibility to the world community. In this manner, the current administration has sought to enforce the rules, yes, but also to encourage voluntary compliance on the part of the Minervans, by working with their various communities. I believe that in the long run, this strategy of the carrot-and-stick will be much more effective than the full-scale invasion advocated by some of my Republican colleagues.
'Finally,' Black concluded, 'although I agree with Senator Stumpel that what's important now is a solution to the crisis, we can't prevent future situations unless we understand what caused the present one. Let us not forget that the initial colonization of Minerva occurred with the full blessing of the Greene Administration. President Lympman and I simply inherited the problem that the Republicans created.'
'Thank you, Vice President Black,' the moderator said. 'Finally, Mr. Adams: If elected to the office of president of the United States, what would you do to handle the Minervans?'
'If elected,' Adams said, smiling into the camera, 'I would return America's foreign policy to the original vision of George Washington: free trade with all nations, and military force only to defend the United States from attack. Now folks, I know you don't like to hear this, but the present 'crisis' is directly the fault of our aggressive posture. The people of Minerva are just like you and me; thirty percent of them were born in America, for heaven's sake. Now how would you feel if you were on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific, minding your own business, when all of a sudden the entire industrialized world tried to cut off your food supply? I bet it would make you mad, wouldn't it? Why, you'd probably want to start sinking those ships that were arresting merchants who were only trying to bring food to feed your starving children. But guess what, folks? The Minervans didn't do that. All they did was to disable the military satellites that were being used to starve their children. The only other things they've 'attacked' were U.S. missiles and planes that were trying to blow them up!
'Does anybody really think that the Minervans are a threat?' Adams asked. 'What are they going to do, exactly? Send us computers for free? Bombard us with more lobster? Develop even better medical techniques? Incidentally, on that note, I think the voters deserve to know why Senator Stumpel'who claims that genetic engineering is 'morally repugnant''had no problem exercising a special exemption five years ago to go to the island for a kidney transplant. And as far as Vice President Black's claim that the U.S. was reimbursed for the damage to its satellites, what he's not telling us is that no money was actually paid, since there were offsetting claims against the U.S. government in the Minervan courts because of our illegal blockade. I realize many of you don't want to hear this, but I'm afraid, my fellow Americans, that we need to face up to the truth: The major countries of the world are afraid of the tiny island of Minerva, because it shows just how unnecessary and unproductive their onerous taxes and bureaucratic red tape really are. The Minervan people are getting along just fine without a class of parasite politicians, and so the politicians'including some from the U.S. of A'are going to do their best to destroy them. I trust that the American people will object to this immoral use of their brave soldiers, and will vote in November for a candidate who will return foreign policy to the original vision of our Founding Fathers.'
That's right, Black thought, smiling, keep talking like that, and I'll be sure to win.