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Lessons from High School

Okay, this situation in Israel has gone on long enough. I didn't want to, but I guess I'm going to have to step up and explain how to solve it.

I had the good fortune to attend a high school where many fine Hispanic lads were intent on killing us fine white lads. That gave me the opportunity to observe some interesting social interactions. For example, I once observed an upstanding youth wearing a cowboy hat try to walk through a crowd of Hispanic gentlemen in the hallway. One of the fun-loving Hispanic fellows snatched his hat, but when he angrily went over to him to get it, the guy who took it threw it across the hall to one of his friends. "Hey, ese, I don' got cher hat, man." He had a point. So the hatless youth scrambled across the hall in pursuit of his Stetson and the guy that had caught it threw it to someone else. So, he went to the next guy . . . you get the picture. 

But nobody ever took Pat Nolan's hat.

See, Pat Nolan wasn't all that bright. He didn't understand that the person that had thrown his hat no longer had it and therefore couldn't give it back, so, in his ignorance, he would jump on the person that stole his hat and do his best to remove all his teeth.

Now, in the US we're civilized, you see. When someone blows up one of our airplanes over Scotland, we  go ask Libya, "Hey, do you happen to know who did this?" Libya says nope, sorry, so we go to Syria, they say nope, sorry, so we go to another country. Come to think of it, we look an awful lot like a bare-headed cowboy chasing a hat through a crowd of hoods.

You have to agree, our approach is civilized. It has the added advantage of giving us practice, since our method seems to invite people trying us again and again. We have this great military, but all of a sudden we're trying to chase down two or three little guys instead of an army.

Israel historically fights more like Pat Nolan. They think like the dog who finds it more effective bite the man that's beating him rather than the stick he's using. This small country surrounded by enemies would pick a target beforehand, then when a bomb went off in a disco, a group of EMTs would rush to the disco and a group of F-16s would rush off to blow up a missile silo in the Sinai Peninsula. How uncivilized. "Hey, ese! Choo don' know who deed that." No, but we know that you do. If you don't want your airbases blown up, you better keep us from getting bombed.

Another incident from my school days reminded me of the power of personal accountability. It happened that one fine Mexican youth and I were discussing whether it was okay that he had broken my windshield. Now in my high school we had a saying, "If you want a bean, you get the whole burrito." What that means is that we hadn't discussed very long before I had a large crowd of dark-haired individuals engaging in violence on my person. My friend Billy Bob climbed up on a ditch bank, laughed a crazy laugh, then rushed headlong into the crowd yelling. I watched in amazement as the entire crowd dispersed and ran away.

That particular moment didn't seem to be the time to analyze the situation, but as I reflected on it later, it occurred to me: Each individual person in that crowd believed that Billy Bob was coming after him personally.

So I had a conviction of the power of personal responsibility and the Israeli approach sounded great in theory, but I'd never personally tested it. Then one day I was doing some welding in my uncle's shop while the neighbor kids were having a snowball fight next door. A snowball came through the open shop door and landed harmlessly on the floor. After a couple more snowballs came into the shop it started to seem like maybe it wasn't an accident any more. Then, one hit me right in the side of the helmet while I was welding.

As I dropped the stinger, threw off my helmet and hurdled the fence the Israeli approach came into my head. I went up to the biggest kid and told him, "If another snowball comes into that shop I'm kicking your . . . " (well, I told him I'd beat him up).

He said  "Hey, man, I didn't throw that snowball." (Tell me you didn't see that coming.)

So I said, "No, listen. If another snowball comes into that shop, you are the one I'm coming after."

I went back to welding more curious than angry. Would the theory work in practice? No more snowballs came into the shop. Personal responsibility is a powerful thing.

Chapter Two

While I was watching the Shaq play basketball the other night it occurred to me: The NBA has a handful of players who are so graceful, so skillful, so fluid in their motions that they transform the sport of basketball into performance art. The Shaq is not one of those players. For the benefit of Bob Costas and others who fumble for the words to describe Shaq's talent, let me explain: the guy is big. Way big. That's it. He's not an athlete. He makes lots of points because he bulldozes through anything between him and the basket, and when his eyes are even with the rim he slams the ball through.

Now I think that's great. The idea is to put the ball through the hole. If there's a rule about how good you have to look doing it, I don't know about it. Shaq has his strengths, and he plays his strengths. Anybody who tries to out-manhandle the Shaq would try to Bible bash with a JW. You don't play to your opponent's strength.

A similar thing happens in auto racing. Some cars have a slight edge in cornering, some pull a little better on the straights. If your car doesn't corner as well, don't let the other guy dictate what line you take. A couple of hundred years ago thirteen small colonies did battle with the empire upon which the sun never sets. The British had large armies arrayed all over the battlefield with lots of weapons and pretty little wool uniforms. We couldn't go head to head against that. So we didn't. We hid in trees and behind walls and shot their officers. Did I mention you don't play to your opponent's strength?

Since we won the revolution we've been building up our military into the same kind of army we defeated at Yorktown. Considering our military might, Osama the punk vandal and Arafat's disciples have tried to take a lesson from the minutemen. They can't compete with our modern armies (watch them try to fire a rifle wearing the prom gowns they parade around in), so they don't try. What they try to do is make up their own rules. They strap explosives on themselves and blow up in the middle of a commuter bus.

So now all the military strategists who studied Napoleon and Robert E. Lee and MacArthur are standing around with big tanks and bombers and satellites and saying, "Omigosh, our military is designed to take big targets and turn them into powder. The psychos who are attacking us are not big targets. How do we ever fight against this?"

We don't.  It's time for us to recruit some help.

Here's what I mean. We aren't equipped to do house-to-house searches to find out who's planning to strap on some Weed-n-Feed this weekend. But the people supporting these losers are, and they have just the kind of big targets we like to blow up. So we go to Arafat and say, Here's the deal, Yasser old buddy, we've got this little problem with your people blowing up Israelis. So, next time one of your friends explodes in a marketplace, that office building of yours becomes an instant motocross track. Of course the handsome and dashing Mr. Arafat's going to say "Hey, I can't control my terrorists." Gee, I'm sorry, I hope you figure out a way to do it, because you're quickly going to run out of buildings.

I think Bush might have gone to my high school. When Bin Laden attacked our country Bush told the Taliban to turn him over. The Taliban said, "Hey, ese, we don' know where he is, dude. I guess choor going to have to find heem yourself." Bush said, Okay, tell you what. You find Bin Laden, you give him to us. You have twenty-four hours then we're leveling Kabul. "Hey, ese, I told choo, we don' have heem." You have twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes. You wanna' talk or you wanna look for him?

Bush learned the technique from Israel. Maybe it's time to let them use it again.

Frank Leany

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