The Truth, Mainly - 06/19/2006

Bring on the Ice Cream Wars
by Leon Satterfield


Last week I read a story in USA Today that hinted at a way to end the war in Iraq. Probably not this year and maybe not next year, but as fossil time goes, perhaps just around the corner.

The hint certainly didn't grow out of events at Guantanamo where three of our prisoners are said to have committed suicide rather than continue to live in a prison where the 400-plus inmates have never been tried for any crime. Check out the AP story on page one of last Monday's Journal-Star under the headline of "A stench of despair at Gitmo."

The family of one of the three said that he'd never have committed suicide because the Koran says people who commit suicide go straight to hell. His father speculated that his son was either hanged or beaten to death.

It's hard to imagine anything like peace growing out of that.

Nor was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death by U.S. bombing the cause of my peace hopes. Even a retired English teacher knows that killing someone as bloodthirsty as al-Zarqawi isn't going to dissuade his followers from the notion that President Bush is less a seeker of peace, more a seeker of oil.

So I was ripe for the USA Today story that makes me hopeful that our current war may someday end, that when all else fails we should turn to the universal elixir.

That would be ice cream.

And here's the riveting headline atop the USA Today story that hints at a way to finally end the war: 'Iraqis go nuts (& other toppings) for ice cream."

Having been pumped full of anti-Iraqi propaganda, we may be surprised to discover that Iraqis like ice cream as much as—or maybe morethan—we do.

The story tells us that in Baghdad, the summers are even hotter than in Nebraska. So our fight-to-the-death enemies eat ice cream. So do our allies and so do we, making it even harder to distinguish good guys from bad guys. Ice cream vendors pop up all over Baghdad.

Pretty strange, huh?

One of the vendors, Mohammed al-Mahdawi, told USA Today that when summer really sets in he figures he'll be selling 1,500 to 1,700 pounds of ice cream per day.

Compare that to anticipated sales by a Ben & Jerry's shop in Boston. One "might sell about 500 cones per day or about 175 pounds of ice cream," according to Jason Sweeney, who owns "several franchises in the Boston area."

Al-Mahdawi says his best seller is "a concoction of chocolate, pistachio and strawberry ice cream, with apple and banana slices, swirled with natural honey and topped with sliced pistachio nuts, served in a star-shaped crispy waffle…for just over $1."

Makes my mouth water. But I have a hard time believing anybody makes better ice cream than does the dairy store on the UN-L East Campus.

Here's what we could do: In July and August, instead of killing Iraqis and having them kill us, we could challenge them to an ice cream contest. We'd send them the East Campus best and they send us whatever they thought was their best.

It would go down in history as the beginning of the Era of Ice Cream Wars.

In September, we'd take a vote in Lincoln and another in Baghdad, the voters in both places having been supplied with a free and adequate amount of the best ice cream from their so-called enemies.

It would be the first step in the world-wide Ice Cream Wars. Many of us might put on a bit of weight but we'd all agree that the pleasures of peace and ice cream are worth a little extra flab.

I imagine that the voters on both sides might be torn between their sense of patriotism and their sense of taste, but it's a proven fact, isn't it, that it's almost impossible to tell a lie while eating really good ice cream. Some have even suggested that it's more difficult to lie while eating good ice cream than while you have your hand on the Bible or the Koran.

That would be the beginning. Soon the Iraqis would stop calling us infidels and we'd stop calling them ragheads. We'd tell them their ice cream is nectar and they'd tell us ours is ambrosia.

Neither President Bush nor Saddam Hussein would politically outweigh the gigantic ice cream parties that would break out all over the world.

And everybody on both sides would come to realize that it's ice cream, not oil, that makes us human.

While we're waiting, I'll have a double dip chocolate chip cone. What's yours, Al?


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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