While the government shutdown seems like an expected event to Americans, recent research indicates that in other parts of the world, it appears irrational and incomprehensible. This became apparent over the past few days as foreign media outlets struggled to make sense of the shutdown and the elaborate congressional choreography that lead to it.
Furthermore, an intercepted conversation between two al Qaeda operatives confirmed what some have suspected for a long time: American politics is a joke. It also revealed that even an organization known for suicide operations is baffled by the self-destructive tendencies of the US political system. Below is a transcript of the conversation, with the two al Qaeda members referred to as A and B.
A: Al Salamu Alaykom, Brother B.
B: Al Salamu Alaykom. How are the preparations for the, er, party?
A: Not so good. I’m afraid the venue is closed down.
B: Closed down? That’s bad news. Did you move to the alternative venue?
A: It’s also closed down. In fact, they are all closed down.
B: What? This is incredible. How could this happen?
A: All government buildings are closed. Didn’t you hear about the shutdown?
B: The shutdown? Vaguely, yes, I thought it was a new American movie. They were talking about it on TV, and they were using that voice they use for movies.
A: It’s not a movie! They are closing down government departments!
B: That’s incredible, why would they do that?
A: It seems we have overestimated how efficient their political system is. When they can’t agree, they just shut down the whole thing and go home.
B: How irresponsible! Imagine if we behaved like that. Don’t you think I would like to go and visit my family back home instead of being here in the mountains? How did this happen?
A: It happened in the council of American sheikhs. The Republicans didn’t want to approve the budget…
B: Remind me which ones the Republicans are? They all look the same to me.
A: The Republicans are the ones who talk more about God and like guns.
B: Reminds me of a certain club you and I belong to. Haha.
A: Haha. So the Republicans are opposed to the healthcare program that Obama created.
B: They think we’re barbaric! Who can be so cruel as to oppose a healthcare system?
A: Some of those infidels have hearts of stone, Brother B. They sabotaged the budget in order to delay the healthcare law. Because they didn’t pass the budget, they now have to close government agencies and send everyone home.
B: Unbelievable. But maybe the drones will stop now.
A: No, the drones aren’t covered by the same budget; they always have money for that.
B: Do we know how long this will last?
A: It’s not clear. Could go on for a long time.
B: Reminds me of the time you shot yourself in the foot. It’s suicidal. And not in a good way.
A: I am as astonished by this as you. It has completely ruined our plans. We can’t attack empty buildings, people will laugh at us. This is very frustrating. I think we might to have to choose a different enemy from now on, someone more rational and predictable. Those Americans have lost it.
B: I hear you, Brother A, but hang on a minute, and hear me out, I’m thinking out loud here.
B: What is our main aim?
A: It’s too early in the morning for existential questions.
B: No, no, I mean in America, what is our aim?
A: We want to bring it to its knees.
B: Metaphorically yes, but in practical terms?
A: We want it to paralyze it?
B: Precisely. And isn’t this what the council of American sheiks just did for us?
A: By Allah, you are right. I didn’t see it that way. They are more successful than we could have ever been.
B: High five, Brother A, as I believe the American expression goes.
Karl Sharro is an architect, writer, satirist, and commentator on the Middle East. He has written for a number of international publications and writes a blog, Karl reMarks, about Middle Eastern politics and culture with occasional forays into satire. You can follow him on Twitter @KarlreMarks
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