Liberate the Vatican!
March 31, 2003

Fresh from our recent triumphs abroad, many Americans yearn for a break, a moment to celebrate. Such feelings are natural, yet they must be suppressed. Where would we be now if Bush Sr. had retired to Kennebunkport as the Berlin Wall collapsed? Not plowing through Baghdad, that's certain. No, the elder Bush had nerves of Kevlar. He knew that today's colossus is tomorrow's curiosity; he raged against the dying of the light. He invaded Panama.

Sadly, Panama wasn't quite the bulwark against Red aggression we had molded it to be. General Noriega suffered a fainting spell before the Marines even landed, but it's no fun when they don't resist. Some of our former allies must have paid attention to their American instructors. Someone must have cracked the owner's manuals on all those WMDs we sent out. (Well, the Israelis obviously did, but we couldn't bomb them. Pat Robertson would've switched parties.) So in 1990, Richard Perle spread out his maps and squinted at forgotten cartography. And his efforts were rewarded, for there in memory's creases lay Iraq.

Saddam has been a fine opponent for the last dozen years: not much of a threat, really, but stubborn. His continuing presence has allowed three vandals-in-chief to spraypaint on the desert sands that America wuz here. But, as Andrew Card would remind us, novelty rules the market. How much longer can we thrash the Muslims before people tune out, or worse, start to sympathize with them?

Thus, in the enterprising spirit of Richard Perle, I offer my country a new enemy. (When this essay is cited a decade from now by conservative thinktanks, you can say that you loved the idea back when it still seemed strange.) The beauty of this enemy resides both in its vast power and its treasury of antagonists.

Let's invade the Vatican.

What else could make our fractured nation sing as one again? From the mountains to the prairies, from the evangelicals to the feminists, from Free Republic to ACT UP, from Bob Jones to Beverly Hills, about whom do our squeakiest wheels reach consensus? The guy in the pointy hat. Oh, yeah, the Reaganites found him useful when he was sticking it to the Commies, and liberals dig him on capital punishment. But aren't we all a little tired of His Holiness's, uh, holiness?

We must also keep in mind the undemocratic nature of the papal regime. The Holy See runs on terror. One can only imagine its citizens trembling in fear, kept silent by John Paul II and his elite Swiss Guard. No wonder the pope opposes the liberation of Iraq. Is there a less progressive state on the planet than his? There hasn't been a female, Jewish, or African-American pope in my lifetime. Even Asians have risen to the posts of Ayatollah and Dalai Lama, but they're not welcome in the old boys' network of St. Peter's.

Yes, the whole globe cows before the Vatican, from genetic researchers to the peasants of the New Europe. Where are the clones we should have had by now? Why is the world drowning in Polacks? When asked how deposing the pope serves our national interests, though, we need only point to our youth. As we all know from watching television, every American child has been abused, most of them by priests. In addition, these priests reportedly lead their flocks in bizarre rituals such as the consumption of blood and flesh, or "communion." Sounds like a cult to me. Before the Army takes Rome, we should let the ATF do a little domestic cleaning.

Grave questions arise from this proposal, of course. For instance, how much of a Nielsen boost will Fox News get from Operation Reverse Crusade? Will the fighting last long enough to be interesting? Securing Vatican City won't be any problem, but with well over a billion soldiers worldwide, this enemy has potential. Ninety percent of Latin America lies under the rosary's yoke, and sleeper cells are said to exist in Boston, New York, Chicago, and New Orleans. The Bush administration currently defines terrorists as those with Arab names and/or antiwar opinions, but how are we to recognize Catholofascists? Is it too early to toss the word "internment" about? John Ashcroft will no doubt address these and other concerns shortly, but you get the idea. A war on this religion will be a real nail-biter.

Remember, Americans are not against Catholics per se. Millions of these decent folks ache to be free of the papal grip, and we want to help them. We will also help the true believers reevaluate their faith as the bombs start falling: think of it as an urgent version of Pascal's wager. Like Muslims in Iraq, Catholics who die while being liberated will find out if they were right about the hereafter. As for me, I'm placing my immortal chips wherever George Bush tells me.

~ Matt Barganier

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Matt Barganier works for an educational philanthropy in Baton Rouge, LA. A late bloomer in his mid-twenties, he has only recently joined the ranks of web punditry. He is an alumnus of Louisiana State University and the University of Alabama.

Archived columns:
3/24/03 – A Guest Column from National Review
3/17/03 – An Aural MOAB for the Middle East
3/10/03 – Woolsey's Folly

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