Baba: Well, it is thrilling to have you here tonight, Mr. Mussolini. Can I call you Benito?
Duce: Il Duce, please.
Baba: Can I call you Duce for short?
Duce: Oh, sure. Duce. That’s a me.
Baba: Well, what I’d like to ask you, what I hoped you would comment on, is George W. Bush. You know who that is?
Duce: That’s a pipsqueak that a got himself into the White House by the back door. At least I marched on Rome.
Baba: Bush has attacked Iraq and you attacked Ethiopia. What’s the difference?
Duce: You gotta be kidding. Nobody gave a hoot about Ethiopia. They had nothing there. So I attacked.
Baba: But if they had nothing, why did you attack?
Duce: Because they beat us some years back and we wanted our manhood back. But America already beat Iraq. Why did you need to beat them again? This Bush, he confuses me. He doesn’t have a reason for the stuff he does.
Baba: He says he did it to bring democracy to Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.
Duce: So what’s the big deal? What’s a so hot about democracy? Does it make the trains run on time?
Baba: Well, you might have a point. Amtrak isn’t doing so hot. But Bush says that if everyone has democracy, it will end war and violence.
Duce: What a joke. How do you think I got into power? I got elected in a democracy. My buddy, Hitler, he got in through democratic means. Then, we started wars so we could stay in power forever. Who will oppose you when you are in a war? Keep having them and then you stay in forever.
Baba: But that’s what Bush is doing, isn’t it? So why don’t you understand him.
Duce: Because he doesn’t know how to do a war. To win a war you must have soldiers and he doesn’t have enough boots on the ground to win. To be a big-time dictator who wins wars, you need lots of boots. You’ve got to look like you mean business. These guys they call neo-cons are all a bunch of wimps. Softies. The Arabs, they’re not scared of them.
Baba: Is there a way out for Bush?
Duce: He better find one or he’s in trouble. If he stays, he loses and if he gets out, he loses. That’s a stupid way to be a dictator. And besides, he doesn’t have songs or parades. To be a big time Duce, you’ve got to have spectacles. This guy opens his mouth and you fall asleep.
Baba: America is broke. How can Bush fix that?
Duce: First, you must understand that Bush started out to have an empire, but he ended up making America a colony of China. That’s a getting it backwards. But then, he made America a colony of Israel. He at least should figure out that you can’t be a colony of two countries.
Baba: How does he pay off the debt?
Duce: Well, he’s got to print a lot of money. That’s the good old-fashioned way my buddy Peron did it.
Baba: And when the money isn’t worth anything, what does he do?
Duce: He does what he’s doing, give him credit for that. You go around giving lots a speeches. The more speeches you give, the more they forget that the money isn’t worth anything.
Baba: But what happens when they can’t buy anything and they get angry?
Duce: That’s a easy. You invade somebody. Somebody you can beat, like Ethiopia.
Baba: Are you saying….?
Duce: It’s staring Bush in the face but he doesn’t get it. He should invade Ethiopia and tell the United Nations to go buzz off. He can send all the unemployed over there to build roads. They always are building roads in Ethiopia, because grass grows over the old ones.
Baba: But Nixon invaded Ethiopia and it didn’t save him.
Duce: That’s because he kept it a secret. A secret war is a good way for a Duce to get thrown out. If you’re going to have a war, you gotta have it big time. Otherwise, you’re a wimp. A wimp can’t be Duce. Besides, Nixon’s war in Ethiopia was really stupid. He did it to keep Haile Sellassie in, when I invaded Ethiopia to throw him out.
Baba: So what about Iraq?
Duce: Bush has got it backwards. This guy, Saddam Hussein wanted to be Duce, so good for him. For ages, America said, Saddam Hussein wants to be Duce of Iraq. That’s fine with us. He attacks Iran. That’s fine with us. But he attacks Kuwait, a stupid country that never existed except in the mind of Winston Churchill, so Britain could control the oil, and Bush’s father says America has to fight him. When it’s over, Saddam Hussein says he is still Duce of Iraq. So Bush figures he must get rid of him after Al Queda attacked America. But what’s a the reason? He doesn’t have a reason. He just needs a war after Afghanistan, because that one ended too soon before the election. He knows his father lost because the first war ended too soon and everyone forgot he won it and they voted in Clinton because they forgot the war. So Clinton starts one in Serbia and he stays in for two terms. So Bush says, nobody’s gonna out war me.
Baba: How will it all end up?
Duce: They all loved me until I lost. Then, they hanged me upside down. Bush knows he can’t win. He must figure out how to get out and pretend he won.
Baba: How can he do that?
Duce: Not hard in a country where they a dumber even than in Italy.
Baba: Duce, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.
Duce: It’s nothing.
Richard Cummings [send him mail] taught international law at the Haile Selassie I University and before that, was Attorney-Advisor with the Office of General Counsel of the Near East South Asia region of U.S.A.I.D, where he was responsible for the legal work pertaining to the aid program in Israel, Jordan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of a new novel, The Immortalists, as well as The Pied Piper — Allard K. Lowenstein and the Liberal Dream, and the comedy, Soccer Moms From Hell. He holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He is writing a new book, The Road To Baghdad — The Money Trail Behind The War In Iraq. He is a contribution editor for The American Conservative.