Print Version January 19th, 2006
George Bush is on the phone to Tony Blair — I wish I could do the accents: “Tony you wanted an exit strategy, we got an exit strategy. Forget all the democracy bullshit and rebuilding crap – what say we just duke it out mano a mano. One of them and one of us, hand to hand, clean fight, winner takes all. Work wonders for the budget deficit. Get the boys home early. Look good in the approval ratings. And think of what we could charge for the TV rights! Fight of the minell… fight of the milemiu … century.”
“George that’s a great idea. Wonderful! Trust you to come up with something so super. But who will we choose? We’d need the best. I can ask the SAS…”
“Tone, don’t you bother your pretty little head over it. I’ve got just the man.”
So the day comes and the world is watching – satellite, cable, internet (I’m afraid BBC lost out to Sky). Helicopters circle. The sun is at its height. Out steps the allied champion … trained in every martial art and killing technique, muscles on muscles, a dark look in his eyes and a swagger in his gait.
And no one to meet him. No opponent. Because of course it’s a fix, a foregone conclusion, who can stand against Sergeant Goliath and the world of power behind him. The band plays.
It’s the same the next day – the TV audience even larger, the marching bands louder, the hype at a fever pitch. Out steps Goliath, gleaming. No one to face him. No matter how much he taunts and insults the manhood of Iraq.
The pattern repeats itself … another day, another week, into another month. Until Day 40: the last chance. The audience, which had gotten bored and turned to Desperate Housewives, is back in force. This is the day. Out steps Goliath, from the security cordon bristling with guns. There’s George on one side, Tony on the other, dwarfed, exultant, holy in their military fatigues. Suddenly between them the hero is on his knees, then on his face. George and Tony gobsmacked. A hunk of rubble lying there, tossed by some scrawny Iraqi girl. The cameras even missed it.
In only a few chapters of Mark, Jesus has gone from hero mobbed by adoring crowds to wanted man with a tongue too sharp for his own good. Mark asks the question of power. Who holds it? And how far will it go in its own defence? But above all – how weak do you have to be to defeat it?