Issue 107: 2017 06 01: A new global arms (and hands) race (Neil Tidmarsh)

01 June 2017

A New Global Arms (and Hands) Race

World leaders get a grip.

By Neil Tidmarsh

There’s a new threat to world peace.  The danger grows day by day.  What began as covert international friction has already escalated into overt confrontation.  How long before it explodes into devastating conflict at the very highest level?

We can’t say we haven’t been warned.  All the signs were there, in the recent bruising, bone-crushing encounters between Japan and the USA, between the USA and France, between France and Turkey, and then France and Russia.  All world leaders – not just those involved – have taken note, and now presidential palaces and prime ministerial residences around the world are echoing with the grunts and groans of alpha-males doing press-ups and lifting weights and squeezing those spring-loaded thingies guaranteed to give you an iron grip according to the adverts for them in those “Stick Me Straight In The Recycling Bin” catalogues.

Yes, the international hand-shake between world leaders is becoming weaponised.  It has to stop before it gets out of hand, literally, and destroys us all in a hitherto-unimagined Armageddon (or do I mean Handageddon?).

Already there are worrying reports of this new arms race (sorry, I mean hands race) spiralling out of control.  From power bases in the West, there are rumours that muscle-bound personal trainers are being recruited, working with computer-generated training regimes based on the cutting-edge scientific data which has won gold medal after gold medal in recent Olympics.  From the East, there are accounts of martial arts experts employing ancient techniques and traditional wisdoms to discipline the minds and strengthen the bodies of their leaders; at least one such leader has undergone the full Zen process of plunging his right hand repeatedly into bowls of hot rice, and then into bowls of burning sand, and finally into bowls of boiling water, until it is hard enough to overcome any amount of pain and pressure.

There is even intelligence to suggest that some powers are going as far as choosing the doomsday ‘nuclear’ option of employing the advanced physics of the novelty joke shop; their leaders are willing to risk international condemnation by wearing those trick rings which incorporate a hidden battery and wires in order to inflict an electric shock of variable intensity on your opponent when you shake his hand.

Even more disturbing are the confidential reports which assert that some world leaders are preparing to go beyond the merely mechanical, and develop a bio-chemical arsenal of steroid pills and testosterone injections instead.  Believe it or not, reliable sources are suggesting that some unprincipled leaders are even ready to go to the extremes of biological warfare by sneezing into their hand before an encounter, or by visiting the toilet first and declining to wash their hands.

What can be done about it?  The USA’s First Lady has set an admirable precedent.  She batted away her husband’s hand as he reached for hers on landing in the Middle East last week.  No doubt he was hoping to practice his white-knuckle technique on her prior to his imminent encounters with the silver-backs of the Arab world.  But she was wisely having none of it – the flick of her fingers was enough to show that she wasn’t interested in any of that macho bullshit nonsense.  Presumably Mrs May and Chancellor Merkel can be relied upon to show the same common sense, love of peace and disapproval of aggression.

But that is not enough.  We had SALT (the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) in the 1970’s; now we must have SHALT (Strategic Hands And Arms Limitation Treaty).  No doubt the United Nations is already at work on it, but we must petition them with the following suggestions:

First.     A ban on exercises with weights etc. to strengthen the biceps, forearms and hand-muscles would be impractical and unenforceable, so such exercises must be allowed, however reluctantly.

Second.  Hidden gadgets such as electric-shock rings must be banned.  World leaders must be body-searched before they’re allowed to shake hands with each other, to make sure they have no such gadgets concealed about their person.

Third.     Steroids, testosterone and other performance-enhancing drugs must be banned.  World leaders must submit to dope-testing after shaking hands with each other.

Fourth.   At least one qualified doctor and a team of trained paramedics must be in attendance whenever any two world leaders shake hands.  The orthopaedic surgery department of the local hospital must be put on emergency stand-by.

Fifth.      A neutral referee must accompany a world leader on any visit to the toilet which precedes a handshake with another world leader, to make sure he washes his hands thoroughly.  In addition, world leaders must wash hands in public, side by side, before any hand-shake can take place.

The last word, on this last point, must be left to Sir Winston Churchill, that great man who warned the free world about the arms build-up in Nazi Germany before World War II and about the arms build-up in Soviet Russia after the war.

One day Winston found himself in the Gents at the Houses of Parliament with a fellow minister.  The minister observed that Winston did not wash his hands after using the urinals.  “At Eton” the minister commented witheringly, “we were taught to wash our hands after having a pee.”

“At Harrow” Winston replied, “we were taught not to pee on our hands.”

The world was in safe (if unclean) hands in those days.


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