Editors note: Today’s column is political satire, mixing reports of actual news events with invented consequences.
Hello, hello! Testing, one-two-three. Anyone paying attention? While you were otherwise mesmerized, Russia recently claimed the North Pole as its own. That’s right; six Russian “explorers” in a mini-sub on an underwater expedition planted a flag below the rapidly shrinking Polar icecap! Think what that means for your children’s next Christmas celebration: Santa Claus operating under the ol’ hammer and sickle? Reindeer ALL in Red, not just Rudolph?
Repeat after me: Nyet!
Unfortunately, no one seems to be taking this new Russian power grab seriously enough yet. Ultimately, it pits Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy himself, none other than the one, the only … Santa Claus, whom, it must now be revealed, Putin deeply reviles. “Down with the Santa Claus cult of personality! It represents capitalism incarnate and must be stopped instantaneously!” declares the former KGB honcho, gloating.
You read it here first: Consequences will be catastrophic!
Besides claiming the North Pole as his country’s own, Putin has imprisoned the beloved seasonal saint who ranks as its most famous denizen. Santa’s capture imperils Christmas holiday celebrations the world over, and by extension, the entire American economy is at risk. Stuff that in your stocking!
Apparently, those brazen Russkis have dared spirit away Santa Claus, incarcerating him deep in sub-zero Siberia, where, wrenched far away from his fabled workshop and loyal elves, a wretched Santa shrugs his sagging shoulders, tugs on his frizzed-out beard and mournfully plays chess against himself to pass the time.
What a truly miserable existence!
This Claus-kidnapping should come as no surprise, since, in an ominously showy speech on a steel-prow nuclear-powered icebreaker ship earlier this year, Putin urged greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic region.
Artist: Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria
As any schoolchild knows, the North Pole is rich in sufficient energy reserves and mineral wealth to fuel a flotilla of planets, let alone this one. International law supposedly guarantees five nations access to the territory inside the Arctic Circle – Canada, Norway, the United States, Denmark, via its control of Greenland, and Russia. So you don’t have to be a weather-person to predict cataclysmic global conflict eventually brewing over this one, do you?
Currently, Canada shrugs off Russia’s North Pole shenanigans and insists its own share of sovereignty over the Arctic region remains intact. “Look, this isn’t the 15th century,” snickered a Canadian diplomat, ridiculing the Russian stunt. “You can’t go around the world planting flags and saying, ‘We’re claiming this territory.'”
Oh, can’t they?
Be that as it may, rapid melting of the polar ice cap has reminded Russia of those alluring submerged oil and gas reserves – ending previous official policies of “Out of sight, out of mind,” culminating in renewed Russian zeal to annex the North Pole for its potentially staggering reserves of riches.
As usual, most U.S. politicians fail to assess grave dangers posed by this ticking time-bomb situation. Nearly a lone voice urging defense of America’s Arctic interests, Sen. Richard Lugar has warned the United States must sign and ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty to stand up to Russian claims over large stretches of the seabed. Otherwise, he maintains, “Moscow will be able to press its claims without an American at the table.”
Naturally, the official U.S. response to Russia’s incendiary gesture so far is typically, well, lame. “I’m not sure whether they’ve put a metal flag, a rubber flag or a bed sheet on the ocean floor,” shrugged a tap-dancing State Department spokesman, responding to the widespread reports Russia had planted an underwater banner of rust-proof titanium to symbolize Moscow’s claim over a vast expanse of the Arctic floor. “I don’t think,” he added, “… whether they went and spray-painted a flag of Russia on those particular ridges is going to make one iota of difference.”
Reportedly, a multinational force of mukluk-clad, mistletoe-carrying troops are massing at the North Pole. And Santa’s on a hunger strike, refusing his captors’ seductive servings of Kasha or buckwheat groats, Borsht or beet soup; Pelmeni, the dumpling-like regional delicacy so popular in Siberia; and Shashlyk, or shishkabob. “For the good of the State, he can stand to drop a few pounds,” sneers Putin, clearly the villain of this contretemps.
I can see it now – he’ll go down in history books as the real Grinch who stole Christmas. But he must be stopped! And soon!
Finally, a world war I can get behind.
Related special offer: