Let’s face it: one way or another, the contagious xenophobia and nationalism sweeping across the globe causing leaders of formerly democratic nations to behave like modern day, un-sexy Caligulas is going to come to a catastrophic head. The state of affairs is alarming, to say the least, and not the slightest bit funny. But I consider it my duty to find the humor in absolutely everything and potential planetary Armageddon is no exception. A classic one-sided telephone conversation between Peter Sellers (as the President of the United States) and Russian President “Dmitri” in the film Dr. Strangelove sounds to my ears like a conversation that might actually take place at some point during the next four years. All one has to do is replace the name Dmitri with Vladimir and voila! — we become witnesses to an international dialogue between the Oval Office and the Kremlin that is potentially just around the corner:
Hello? Uh, hello? Hello, Vladimir? Listen, I can’t hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? A-ha, that’s much better. Yeah, yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Vladimir. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I’m coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine. Good. Well, it’s good that you’re fine, and – and I’m fine. I agree with you. It’s great to be fine. [Laughs] Now then, Vladimir, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The BOMB, Vladimir. The hydrogen bomb. Well now, what happened is, uh, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of – Well, he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing.
Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes…to attack your country.
Well, let me finish, Vladimir. Let me finish, Vladimir. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Vladimir? Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?
Of course I like to speak to you! Of course I like to say hello! Not now, but any time, Vladimir. I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened.
It’s a friendly call. Of course, it’s a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn’t friendly, you probably wouldn’t have even got it. They will not reach their targets for at least another hour. I am, I am positive, Vladimir. Listen, I’ve been all over this with your Ambassador. It is not a trick. Well, I’ll tell you. We’d like to give your Air Staff a complete rundown on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes.
Yes, I mean, if-if we’re unable to recall the planes, then, I’d say that, uh, well, uh, we’re just gonna have to help you destroy them, Vladimir. I know they’re our boys. All right, well listen, now, who should we call? Who should we call, Vladimir? The what, the People’s –, you, sorry, you faded away there. The People’s Central Air Defense Headquarters. Where is that, Vladimir? In Omsk. Right. Yes. Oh, you’ll call them first, will you? Uh, huh. Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Vladimir? What? I see. Just ask for Omsk information.
I’m sorry too, Vladimir. I’m very sorry. All right, you’re sorrier than I am. But I am sorry as well. I am as sorry as you are, Vladimir. Don’t say that you’re the more sorry than I am because I am capable of being just as sorry as you are. So we’re both sorry, all right? All right.