An Iraqi vice-president has suggested that instead of going to war, Presidents Bush and Hussein should hold a duel instead to decide the outcome of the conflict, saving the American and Iraqi peoples the expense and suffering of a real war. I think this is a brilliant idea; I've always been sad that dueling went out of fashion. I got to thinking, though, about what would have happened if all previous conflicts in American history had been decided by duels, rather than battles. Here's a small sampling:
THE MATCH: The Founding Fathers VERSUS King George III, Rex Britannia
THE PLAY: King George is ambushed on his way to the dueling grounds by revolutionary soldiers who, for some inexplicable reason, refuse to wear brightly-colored uniforms and march in a straight line. No replacement can be found. The French judge declares a win for the Americans (after a hefty bribe).
THE OUTCOME: The British go home, have a cup of tea and sulk about their newly-discovered inferiority complex. The Americans decide that they are immortal.
THE MATCH: Prime Minister Winston Churchill VERSUS Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler
THE PLAY: Winston and Adolf play football (that's soccar, to you Americans). Hitler commits suicide after overextending his reach without adequate defense, and his body is immediately eaten by a pack of rabid Manchester United fans.
THE OUTCOME: Winston has a cigar.
THE MATCH: President Harry Truman VERSUS Emperor Hirohito of Nippon
THE PLAY: Truman, in our reality, ordered two Japanese cities to be vaporized. Hirohito was mostly interested in fish, between bouts of world domination. Since Truman was the challenged party, he got to choose how the duel would be fought. "Projectile weapons", he says. Hirohito agrees and goes to get his pistol. Meanwhile, former field artillery captain Truman directs the offshore bombardment of the dueling ground from the safety of the bridge of a battleship.
THE OUTCOME: The Americans win because they have bigger guns. Everyone agrees except for the Japanese, who tell their children that the match was a draw because the Americans didn't play fair.
THE MATCH: President John F. Kennedy VERSUS Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev
THE PLAY: Premier Khruschev beats Kennedy to death with his shoes.
THE OUTCOME: The Soviets win the Cold War, but their economy collapses before they can take over the NATO bloc.
THE MATCH: President Richard Nixon VERSUS Hoh Chi Minh
THE PLAY: Nixon and Hoh Chi Minh have a sparring match. Hoh Chi Minh beats the crap out of Nixon, since he's a hardcore revolutionary martial artist, but Nixon keeps getting up and going back for more, until finally he loses consciousness and has to be dragged out of the ring by the Democratic Party.
THE OUTCOME: The Vietnamese get to just do their thing, and the Americans go home in shame.
THE MATCH: President Bush the First versus President Saddam Hussein
THE PLAY: Saddam challenges Bush the First to a game of hide-and-seek in the desert. Despite air-dropped supplies and a GPS navigation system, Bush never does find Saddam.
THE OUTCOME: Driven mad by his master's defeat, General Norman Schwartzkopf bombs the hell out of Iraq anyway, while the rest of the world screams in protest. Saddam lives to fight Gulf War II against Bush the Second.
THE MATCH: President Bill Clinton VERSUS President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia
THE PLAY: Solobodan fights Bill in a Serbian mass graveyard at midnight. As they shake hands before the fight, Bill keels over because of the contact poison Slobodan put on his glove. Slobodan buries Bill in the grave, and later claims that Bill never showed.
THE OUTCOME: An investigation run by the Duel Crimes Tribunal at The Hague uncovers Slobodan's treachery. He goes to jail, and the Americans bomb the hell out of Serbia.
THE MATCH: President Bush the Second VERSUS Osama bin Laden
THE PLAY: Bush and bin Laden try to hunt each other down in a mountain pass in Afghanistan. Bush gets lost and ends up in Iraq.
THE OUTCOME: Bush mistakes Iraq for Afghanistan, and orders the American Air Force to bomb it anyway. Bush kills Saddam, but the judges rule the move illegal, and the Americans are forced to make reparations. Bush says that the judges must be in league with the Taliban.