Jewish World Review April 23, 2003 / 21 Nisan, 5763

Jay D. Homnick

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Consumer Reports

The Nutrasweet War against the Axis of Evil: Did Rummy forget? | Let us not dwell too long on the proper name for the war in Iraq, dwindling even now into its last fevered skirmishes. Driving a wedge through the border and making a high-speed beeline for the capital, the military dictionary calls that blitzkrieg. See the wonderful book by that name, written by Len Deighton. But it would be impolitic to apply German words to this campaign based in compassion, save perhaps gemutlichkeit.

What does cry out for a name is the War On Terrorism, which needs to be rescued from its current drab utilitarian moniker. Here is what I propose to call it: The Nutrasweet War. Thereon hangs a tale.

When I moved to Israel in 1981 (eventually staying for 10 of the next 13 years), I was devastated by the loss of my staple food, the cornerstone of my nutrition, diet soda. Such a thing simply did not exist in the macho world of muscular Spartans who had reclaimed their ancestral land. Yes, they had dried up the swamps but they still had not wet the desert. Us American expats roamed the tropical streets, perspiring freely in a free country, constantly confronted by the devil's choice between the perdition of calories and the purgatory of seltzer.

In the meantime, we read with some glee of the suffering of our fellow drinkers stateside. Diet sodas in the United States, since the banning of cyclamates in the late 60s, were sweetened exclusively by saccharin. And those rats in the laboratories were sending ominous messages that saccharin might make one more than just photogenic; it might be carcinogenic. No one dared to call for another ban, but the murmur for a substitute sugar substitute was building into a roar. There was word that G. D. Searle and Company of Skokie, Illinois, had developed a sweetener called aspartame that they had given the product name of Nutrasweet. The buzz was that FDA approval was still millennia away. The calorically overprivileged waited with breath doubly bated by sucking in their stomachs.

Then came a shift in the usually shiftless politics of the Mideast. The redoubtable Philip Habib, longtime special envoy of President Ronald Reagan to that troubled region, said his envoi and departed to pursue those ever-attractive "other interests."

Landing on his feet, the Prez announced a replacement, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, president of G. D. Searle and Company. Rumsfeld came, said his famous "veni, vidi, voodoo" about wanting no part of this intractable mess, and left for pastures whose greenness hadn't even begun to fade.

"Peace in our time" we did not have after his visit. But suddenly we had - DIET SODA! Not just diet soda, but the first diet soda in the world sweetened exclusively by aspartame aka Nutrasweet, a product of, yes, indeed, G. D. Searle and Company of Skokie, Illinois, Donald Rumsfeld, president.

So it was that a living laboratory for the consumption of Nutrasweet was set up, providing valuable info which enabled the application to the FDA to be expedited. Sure enough, the FDA had a good time on the first data and called back soon to begin a meaningful relationship.

Was Rummy the grand visionary strategist who brought Israel into the next generation in the War Against Nuclear Waists? We may never know. Yet the theory seems very sound indeed.

The War On Terrorism may not require us to battle Axis Of Evil forces directly. It may be enough to demonstrate to Iran, North Korea and Syria that Nutrasweet works well in Iraq. Perhaps then they will abandon their saccharine lip service to resisting terrorism and trim those weapons stockpiles.

The great Jewish comedian, Myron Cohen, loved to tell the story of Marvin's mother who told his teacher never to yell at Marvin, because he was much too sensitive. If the teacher needed to get through to Marvin, he should scream at the boy sitting next to him and Marv would get the message. Hopefully our decapitation of the tyranny in Iraq will not go over the heads of the despots in Iran, North Korea and Syria.

JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.


© 2003, Jay D. Homnick