2002 November 05 Tuesday
US Backs Off Plan To Invade Kiribati

Yes friends, the US was all set to invade Kiribati:

George W Bush today announced a realignment of US foreign policy. The goal of ousting Iraq's Saddam Hussein has now been replaced by the goal of regime change in the Kiribati Islands as the US's new top priority.

"For years the evil dictator Teburoro Tito has oppressed his people and terrorised the Pacific region. We also have reason to believe he is in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction. And some pretty damn fine crab soup."

Bush today announced the departure of the 7th Admiralty Fleet to the Kiribati's. An invasion of the 810 sq km archipelago is expected to begin within the next 2 weeks.

The President of Kiribati was not amused:

A story about plans by the United States to invade Kiribati that has caused widespread concern in Tarawa and Christmas Island came from a New Zealand satirical website.

Pacnews reports that the story, which led the Office of the President to issue a series of public broadcasts assuring the population that the planned "invasion" was not true, came from Spinner, a website featuring satirical "news" stories.

On Wednesday night the Kiribati Office of the President -- apparently unaware that the story seemed to be designed to poke fun at the foreign policies of US President George W Bush -- issued a statement condemning the story as a "misleading, fearful, intimidating and defamatory" attempt to "cause a lot of problems before the general elections".

Last minute diplomatic negotiations headed off the invasion and now the cover story is that the original report was just a satire:

A spoof story claiming the United States was planning to invade the tiny Pacific state of Kiribati sparked panic and prompted the government there to air public reassurances the country would not be overrun by US forces.

The US Embassy in Wellington said Monday it was unfortunate the story on a New Zealand satirical Web site Spinner was taken as accurate.

This report on the story deleted an expletive uttered by the fictional Bush in the original article:

The Sunday Star-Times newspaper yesterday reported that New Zealand High Commissioner to Kiribati Neil Robertson had been questioned by the president about the article.

"The Kiribati sense of humour does not encompass satire," he said.

"The thing that really got people here is that there is an election campaign in progress and there has certainly been opposition criticism of President Tito, because of his alleged autocratic attitude toward various matters.

"The fact the satirical item referred to him as an evil dictator was not, perhaps, opportune."

The invasion story leaked out before the US was ready to attack. The US lost the necessary element of surprise and a rapid diplomatic negotiation ensued. Of course the US now denies it ever had any such intention. But we aren't fooled, are we? Who wants to bet on whether French warships (or maybe just French fishing boats; but it was the French dammit) were shadowing the US invasion fleet and spread the word?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 05 01:22 PM  Off Beat And Odd


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