Illustration for article titled Miss Universe As A Metaphor For Geopolitics

'Jane's Defence Weekly' is a weekly military mag covering topics pertinent to national and international defense and security, and the main reason our dad was impressed this one time we told him we were writing a story for 'Jane' magazine. Below, we take the pun wayyyy further than we ever probably should have by asking 'Jane's Defence Weekly' reporter Nathan Hodge to interpret world events in the flip, casual, sophomoric voice a 'Jane' reader would understand!


So dude, the global G8 summit has totally been happening. Right in the middle of all this madness with Paris Hilton! And today something almost as dramatic as a certain L.A. county sheriff shitfight happened during the summit: Russian president Vladimir Putin said to President Bush (and we paraphrase!) "You know what, we have been whining and complaining about the dinky little missile defense shield you're trying to build, but just because we got laid this morning we're gonna give you Azerbaijan to locate your receptor thingys." Now, last we checked Putin was not the boss of Azerbaijan, but we also hear that doesn't matter in Central Asia! Which brings us to the question, what exactly is a missile defense shield and why do we need it?

Q: Would we be right to say, Nathan, that the missile defense shield is SORT OF like, a giant, ineffective condom for the earth?
Hodge: Um, I'm not sure about "condom." You could call it a prophylactic.


Q: Right, we think we know how to spell that. Okay, but the missile defense spermicide is being constructed to protect us against, basically... North Korea and Iran, which are like the AIDS and unplanned pregnancy of global security? And you need everyone's consent to put it on?
Hodge: Well, North Korea actually has nukes. Iran has a nuclear program, but North Korea is the bigger concern. And yeah. My job is to sort of cover the blow-by-blow salesmanship of that. Basically [the administration] has been having a hard time selling it to the Poles and the Czechs. The guy who's leading the negotiations, John Rood, is sort of a true believer type. They don't believe in stuff like arms negotiations and peace treaties, and so it's sort of hard for them to grasp the idea that it takes diplomacy to park a bunch of interceptor missiles in someone's backyard. An apt Washington Post story not too long ago called them the "Sesame Street" National Security Council.

Q: But Sesame Street like Elmo, not like, Oscar The Grouch.
Hodge: Probably.

Q: Now, when you say 'interceptor missiles' we're like, how does that work? Do they literally fly up and smack weapons out of the air? Or do they use, I don't know, frequencies and things?
Hodge: Back when Ronald Reagan fell in love with missile defense,- the Star Wars era - his money line was that he was going to render ballistic missiles "impotent" and "obsolete." Now, basically, they are spending a lot of money every year on a really really limited program that basically involves shooting down an incoming missile and smashing it up on impact. Every few months ago the missile defense agency tests the program and puts out a press release saying, "Hurray for us, we shot down a missile." And then the skeptics point out, "well you don't have advance notice when a missile is being launched at you.

Q: Let's get to more general global issues for a bit. In last week's Miss Universe pageant, Miss Japan totally smoked Brazil, Venezuela, Korea and USA. Miss USA took an ass-dive during her final pre-judge walk and finished last. This is all a convenient metaphor for our waning power in the Asian military theater, isn't it?
Hodge: I don't know, but I just got finished reading the U.S. Department of Defense's report about military power in the People's Republic of China. The report is all about China' rising military power. It's focusing on expanding its influence beyond the Taiwan Strait.

Q: Speaking of Taiwan, CURIOUSLY there was no Taiwan in the Miss Universe competition! Is that because China is, like, the Ike Turner to Taiwan's Tina?
Hodge: I don't know about the Miss Universe competition, but in another beauty contest Miss Taiwan was not allowed to compete as Miss Taiwan and had to be called Miss Chinese Taipei.


Q: Okay, so even if China expands its powers, do we have anything to be worried about here? It seems like Miss Japan should probably be quaking in her Jimmy Choos. I mean, she's really close to both China and Korea. And last week, Korea set off some test missiles, right?
Hodge: Look, the U.S. has a bigger defense budget then the next ten countries combined. For Japan, though, well, according to the DOD report, China is putting a greater emphasis on power protection and expressing a greater concern over protection of energy supplies. China is worried about its dependence on foreign oil and its energy supply, and has been investing heavily on reaching out to African states, like the Sudan. Diplomacy is a lot like the Miss Universe contest I guess: not everyone wants to participate and not everyone has a delegate.

Q: Angelina Jolie was just named to the Council on Foreign Relations. Do celebrities really help solve anything?
Hodge: I think Angelina Jolie would do a better job of winning hearts and minds then say, [former Bush flack] Karen Hughes, who recently did a a listening tour of the Middle East as the lead State Department outreach person for boosting America's image in the Middle East. It was a failure. The problem you have in the military is that there's a belief you can invent a ray gun that you can zap people with and they will like you. The way you want to go about solving conflicts it is by improving your information campaign—winning hearts and minds of people. It's like how we won the Cold War - we won because people didn't want to wear shoes made in Leningrad and wanted to listen to bootleg Deep Purple records.


Q: Are all the celebs trying to heal Africa right now, or are any of them digging missile defense?
Hodge: Do you know who Jeff Skunk Baxter is?

Q: Uh, no?
Hodge: He was in the Doobie Brothers. He's really into missile defense.


Q: Whoa, so he is! Weird.

Putin Offers To Join Missile Shield [Washington Post]

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Earlier: The Harper's (Bazaar) Index


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