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Life Arts

America in the World: Less a King than Odd-Man-Out

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A revealing exercise was Munich Security,
As reality check on leaders' maturity,
Which vary a lot from speaker to speaker,
Some speeches crackling and others a creaker,
And afterwards questions from folks in the biz,
Some leaders passing, some flunking the quiz.
Among the most poignant was Russia's Lavrov,
Decrying the nonsense and the reaction Pavlov
Among the West media which them demonize,
But ignore in Ukraine their fascist allies.
"Blather": his term 'bout the U.S. election,
And then he apologized for coarse word selection.
The rep from Iran's worth a listen and look,
Making good sense though no drone wings he shook,
Talked of America's long string of errors,
Attacking regimes by sending them terrors,
Yet on the nuke deal gave Kerry full credit,
Lamenting Prez Trump had not even read it.
Hear out these worthies, then tune in McMaster,
Who how I wished would finish much faster:
"Free world," "resolve," "strides," "way of life,"
Cement-laden prose to confront rising strife,
Not talking to nations but numbingly past,
This linebacker-statesman badly miscast.
You finish your survey and tingle with doubt:
America's less king than just odd-man-out.
Even from post-speech interrogation,
It's clear we're viewed with cold toleration,
Our actions abroad cruel and insensible,
Seen far and wide as quaint and dispensable.


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Philip Kraske lives in Spain, where he teaches English, does translation, and writes both prose fiction and verse.

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