The Shrubbery
July 1999
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Diary of a War

by Philip Dore

In these strange days, war is becoming a damn complicated business. Generals not only have to be master strategists; they also have to look good on CNN. Move over Carl von Clauswtiz, and let us explain the modern art of battle in this step by step reconstruction of the art of war in the modern age.

Day One:
The tiny nation of Bogdania invades several neighbouring states. The President of Bogdania is regarded (by Bogdania State television) as a benevolent ruler, a wise sage, and a conquering hero. The President of Bogdania is also regarded (by just about everyone else) as a homicidal maniac.

Day Four:
News start to trickle in of mass atrocities taking place against ethnic minorities in the invaded territories.

Day Twelve:
Events in and around Bogdania start to have an impact on Western governments. In London, an analyst in the Foreign Office hears Bogdania mentioned on the news and vaguely begins to wonder where Bogdania is. In Washington, President Clinton hears Bogdania mentioned in a national security briefing and vaguely begins to wonder whether Bogdania is some form of sex act he hasn't tried yet.

Day Twenty:
Things start to move more quickly in the corridors of power. In London, the Foreign Office analyst suddenly realises with horror that one of the countries Bogdania has invaded was a place where he had a very pleasant holiday a few years ago. He urges his political masters to do something before more historic medieval architecture is destroyed. In Washington, Clinton suddenly realises with horror that when he was guest of honour at the annual Girl Scouts Convention he handed out a number of cookery and outdoor skills badges bearing suspicious-looking 'yoghurt' stains. He urges his political underlings to find him an international crisis before the press start asking awkward questions.

Day Twenty One:
Tony Blair appears on national television to pledge his support for the "poor oppressed people of Bogdania" before a press secretary belatedly advises him that the Bogdanians are the people doing the oppressing.

Day Twenty Five:
Under urging from the British and American governments, the UN becomes involved, and demonstrates its fearsome capability by setting up a committee to study the problem. Meanwhile, Bogdanian troops are rampaging through the Balkans, slaughtering and raping ethnic minorities at will.

Day Twenty Seven:
The Bogdanian President defends his actions against the ethnic minorities in the invaded areas, claiming that the Bogdanian people are taking their revenge for an incident in the 16th Century when the Balkan ruler Konstantin the Flatulent inflicted a crushing defeat on the Bogdanian king during a particularly vicious game of backgammon.

Day Thirty One:
The UN announces that it will send unarmed UN observers on a monitoring mission to deter further human rights abuses.

Day Forty Five:
The UN observers are declared a resounding success, having demonstrated their capacity to observe vast amounts of brutality and murder under all circumstances.

Day Fifty Two:
Doubts begin to emerge about the effectiveness of the UN observers, as it becomes apparent that the usual response of Bogdanian death squads to the observers is to exclaim, "What the hell are you staring at, blue-head?"

Day Sixty:
The UN replaces the observers with armed peacekeeping troops, under strict rules of engagement that if fired upon, they are to phone the UN headquarters in New York where a committee will be formed to discuss matters and vote on whether the troops can fire back.

Day Sixty Eight:
The UN rules of engagement are rethought after a platoon of UN troops is wiped out when the UN committee is delayed in its findings by a doughnut shortage.

Day Seventy Five:
Western governments announce that they will send food aid to civilians caught up in the fighting. The Bogdanian government responds positively. Some of their death squads haven't had a hot meal in weeks.

Day Eighty Two:
The British and American governments press the UN Security Council for a resolution authorising military action against Bogdania. The UN Security Council considers the request and passes a resolution declaring that the actions of Bogdania are "not very nice" and "will they please stop it."

Day Eighty Five:
The British and American governments decide to ignore the UN and attack Bogdania anyway. US Secretary of State Madeliene Allbright insists, "We will not allow international law to get in the way of maintaining international law."

Day Eighty Six:
US warships in the Aegean fire fifty Tomahawk missiles at targets in Bogdania. Six of the missiles actually land in Bogdania. One of them hits a military target. Well, it was something green, anyway. The Bogdanian military decides to respond to the attack by slaughtering as many of the ethnic minorities as they can while they still have control over the invaded areas.

Day Eighty Seven:
NATO forces follow up the missile attacks by launching air strikes using the latest hi-tech missile guidance technology to guarantee accuracy. Several missiles are deflected when they accidentally lock on to a Sony playstation in the Bogdanian capital.

Day Eighty Eight:
NATO air attacks continue. A NATO press spokesman jubilantly presents combat reports of the US Air Force "scoring plenty of hits" without realising that the reports actually refer to the drug habits of US military personnel.

Day Ninety Two:
US fighter-bombers launch a devastating attack on an armoured column, inflicting massive damage. Unfortunately it was a British armoured column. Bogdanian troops continue purging the invaded areas of terrorists based in strongholds such as creches, nunneries and geriatric hospitals.

Day Ninety Eight:
NATO spokespersons defend the decision to carpet bomb a public toilet, which they insist was a valid military target as top-level Bogdanian generals had been known to take a leak there.

Day One Hundred and Four:
The President of Bogdania declares, "I am not afraid of NATO bombs", from a reinforced concrete bunker in a secret location surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.

Day One Hundred and Ten:
British paratroops advance into the invaded areas, liberating several brothels and a strategically important brewery. UN staff set up a command post in the brewery, where they try and fail to organise a piss-up.

Day One Hundred and Fifteen:
Tony Blair attempts to rally public support by staging a photo-opportunity of him grinning inanely in the cockpit of an RAF Tornado. The photo-opportunity is marred somewhat by an unfortunate incident involving the ejector seat.

Day One Hundred and Twenty:
Cilla Black, Paul Daniels and Cliff Richard announce their intention to visit the Balkans to entertain the British troops. Morale plummets.

Day One Hundred and Twenty Five:
NATO deploys a multi-million dollar laser targeting system to make its attacks more effective. The targeting system is rendered useless by a light smog.

Day One Hundred and Thirty Six:
After fifty days of NATO bombing, most of Bogdania has been turned into a smoking pile of rubble. Bogdanian genocide has reduced the ethnic minorities to a goatherd called Stavros and his asthmatic niece. NATO begs the Bogdania president to agree to a peace treaty on the grounds that they are running out of things to bomb.

Day One Hundred and Forty:
A peace treaty is signed and a UN peacekeeping force is installed to protect Stavros and his niece, who rapidly become the world's richest ethnic minority.

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