Cheeseburger diplomacy…

Not long ago, I suggested that the National Football League help build cultural ties with Afghanistan by adapting the popular Afghan sport of Buzkashi – kind of like polo played with a dead goat carcass – to American playing fields.

Plenty of readers (OK, OK, two bourbon-enhanced Oakland Raiders fans from Suisun) found fault with this somewhat one-sided concept.

If we’re really going to have a fair cultural exchange with Afghanistan, they argued, we’re going to have to share something from our culture, too.

Although most Raider fans would probably consider trading silver-and-black beer coolers for belly dancers a fair cultural exchange, I think our nation has reached a point where we’ve got to look at the big picture if we expect lasting compatibility with our new friends to the east.

Let’s face it, repeated air drops of Pop Tarts and peanut butter aren’t going to do the trick over the long haul (although they might work with Canada).

No, we’re going to have to think big. We’re going to have to think, er, cheeseburgers … and Maury Povich.

If we play it right, our new cultural exchange program is going to be a win-win situation – we’ll be able to boost our sluggish economy while building lasting ties of friendship and mutual respect with the Afghan people.

We’ll have to move fast and we’ll have to move decisively. Initially, we’re going to have to fly in and erect roughly 50 prefabricated fast-food franchises at strategic locations (where there are people) throughout Afghanistan.

At the same time, we’ll need to round up every running, pre-owned Ford Aspire in the continental United States and ship them to Afghanistan via C-5 jet transport.

Now we’re cooking, fellow ambassadors – we’ve got cheeseburgers and drive-through food service with cars to drive through the drive-throughs.

Then all we’ll need are, like, roads and some daytime TV.

Can we do it?

We can do it!

If we can build fast-track, fast-food franchises from Asadabad to Dowlatabad we can supply enough tilt-up TV stations and cable to guarantee that every household that wants them will be able to receive reruns of “The Beverly Hillbillys” and “Maury Povich” 24 hours a day.

After we gently airdrop a few planeloads of TV sets on the grateful populace, the rest will be a cultural revolution unlike any ever before experienced in Afghanistan (or Canada, for that matter).

Sure, there will be some rough spots. Dubbing “The Three Stooges” into Pashtu won’t be easy and we’ll have to follow strict Islamic dietary guidelines with what we put into those cheeseburgers, but it’ll be worth it.

Once the Afghan people get used to their newfound cultural riches, we can put the finishing touches on our international program of open-handed American largesse.

You guessed it, amigos:

Lawyers and leaf blowers. Lots and lots of them …

Originally published February 24, 2002

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