The world continues to be too insane for satire

During the 1970s, there was a post-Yom Kippur War joke that was very popular in Jewish circles:

Arab soldiers realized that at least half the Israeli troops they were fighting were named David.  They decided to use this information to deal with situations in whch they were facing Israeli fighters who were hidden from sight.  The order came down from on high that Arabs were to holler out “Hey, David!”  When the Israeli soldier stood up or waved in answer, he would get shot.  Alas, the best laid plans….

When the Arab soldiers hollered out “Hey, David!”, the Israeli soldiers, instead of standing up or waving, would hell back, “Is that you, Mohammed?”  The Arab fighters would instantly stand up and wave, at which point they’d get shot.

It’s a pretty awkward joke, but it came to mind almost irresistibly when I read this news story:

Taleban insurgents fighting German forces in northern Afghanistan have often lived to fight another day thanks to trilingual warnings that have to be shouted out before the men from the Bundeswehr can squeeze their triggers.

The seven-page pocket guide to combat tucked into the breast pocket of every German soldier offers such instructions as: “Before opening fire you are expected to declare loudly, in English, ‘United Nations — stop, or I will fire,’ followed by a version in Pashtu — Melgaero Mellatuna — Dreesch, ka ne se dasee kawum!

The alert must also be issued in Dari, and the booklet, devised by a committee in some faraway ministerial office, adds: “If the situation allows, the warning should be repeated.” The joke going round NATO mess tents poses the question: “How can you identify a German soldier? He is the corpse clutching a pocket guide.”

Max Boot, who brought this story to my attention, thought that the story was a joke, but it’s not.  The only good news is that Germans are relaxing the above requirements so that they can actually kill the bad guys, while preserving their own lives.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what it means to live in a world that sees yesterday’s jokes as today’s reality — with ourselves as the butt of every punch line.  I’m pretty darn sure, though, that it’s not a good thing when it comes to long-term survival.

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  • expat

    Meanwhile German takshows feature debates on whether the country is involved in a war. I actually heard one lefty journalist say that before German troops were sent to Afghanistan, she had questioned whether there was an exit strategy. This deep-thinking military strategist must have accidentally googled “Colin Powell Gulf War” and found a phrase that she thought sounded impressive. I haven’t heard her comments on the ROE.


    The ‘new’ rules of engagement (EURO style) have become the Fools of Engagement.

  • suek

    Too bad they didn’t follow these rules during WWII…it would have made the war much shorter.


    A day late and a dollar short – Good One suek!

  • Ymarsakar

    The Germans were always like this. Or rather, they were always like this after they re-integrated with East Germany, after being occupied by US Forces.

    But even before then, they were always fond of order and structure and protocol.

    They could have been great allies of the US. unfortunately, they had to be neutered and neutralized as a threat instead. And so here we are.

    The UN and NATO are not useful allies of the United States.


    hmmm… I just adore alliteration neutered and neutralized and when the letters UN are close by, my heart flutters with excitement.

  • Ymarsakar

    The only good thing about the Un is that you can invite certain people that need killing, such as Chavez, Castro, Kim, and Amanie over, withdraw from the UN, and then capture and kill the foreigners on US soil.

    You can only do that once, however.

    Once a declaration of war has been passed against the institution called the UN, many many options would become available as US policy that wouldn’t have been had the UN perps been treated as diplomats with diplomatic immunity.


    I prefer option #2 knowing that there are always replacement parts tyrants.Yep, I am going with declaration of war with the UN, this gives us the opportunity to continually hit them.