steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Dr Seuss on Syria

Do you remember the pink cat ring in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? It starts life as an unsightly ring in the bath...


... but every time the Cat tries to clean it away he finds that it simply moves onto other objects. Eventually he calls on some of the smaller cats who live in his hat to try and get rid of it, but instead they spread it around until the entire house and even the snow outside are coloured pink:


The parallels with President Obama's current dilemma are striking. In August 2012, he just had a simple red line to deal with. It came from a remark about his administration's view of the Assad regime ("a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized"). Since the chemical attack in Damascus, however, the red line has been steadily spreading, with some help from the smaller cats the President keeps in his hat. According to John Kerry, "This debate is also about Congress’s own red line", and latest reports indicate that the red line has spread over the entire planet, with the President now arguing that "This debate is about the world’s red line. It’s about humanity’s red line."

At this point in the book the Cat's solution, like Obama's, is to call up even more cats:

My cats are all clever, my cats are good shots
My cats have good guns, they will kill all those spots.

However, this proves to be counterproductive:

"All this does is make more spots!" we yelled at the cat
"Your cats are no good - put them back in your hat!"

In the world of fiction, there is a way out. The final cat, Cat Z, who is atomic in size and power, has a special substance in his hat called Voom, and "Voom cleans up anything, clean as can be."


Obama too has a substance called Voom, though I trust he would never use it. Meanwhile, the red line blankets the world, and all the dei ex machina have absconded. I'm sure the President would rather be in the world of Dr Seuss.
Tags: books, current affairs
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