A Pound of Flesh
by Timothy Spearman
Ever read “The Merchant of Venice”? Well, imagine Uncle Sam is Shylock and Iran is Antonio. And imagine Portia is the World Court.
There is much wisdom to be found in books. Take “The Merchant of Venice” for example. In this play, Antonio has taken a loan of 3,000 ducats from Shylock, the moneylender. The loan has been taken out on merchant cargo ships laden with minerals extracted abroad. Let us for our purposes imagine the commodity to be oil. The ships are then lost at sea and Antonio defaults on his loan. As collateral, Shylock has extracted a loan on exactly one pound of Antonio’s flesh.
By analogy, Saddam Hussein also received many usurious gifts from the former U.S. president, George Bush Sr., when he was head of the CIA, including oil kickbacks, which they split to the tune of $250 billion a year each, through the Pennzoil Oil Company, this revealed in the book by former CIA agent, Russell S. Bowen, The Immaculate Deception: Bush Crime Family Revealed. This prefaced the sale on credit of chemical, biological and nuclear agents that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. For this, Shylock has demanded his pound of flesh in bond.
In the play, Shylock does not want his loan to be paid in interest even when reparation is offered at three times its value. He prefers to have his pound of flesh. To him, it is justice to have Antonio suffer for the many insults he has received at his hands, but this is justice based on revenge.
Analogously, Bush does not want the sale of arms to be repaid. Iraq may present its inventory of weapons three times over and still Shylock will not be discouraged from his course. Iraq may open its borders to UN inspectors and turn every missile, warhead, and chemical weapon over and still Shylock will insist upon his pound of flesh.
Now the bond has come to court, Portia presiding not as a young doctor of law, but as the United Nations. She has come to hear the case. At first, she consents to the bond and agrees that Antonio’s chest should be laid bare that Shylock might lay hold of his pound of flesh. But Shylock is in for a surprise as the most learned judge has stipulated that while he is entitled to his bond of one pound of flesh, if even so much as a single drop of blood is allowed to spill, he will be compelled to forfeit all his property.
Let the UN invoke the same wisdom with the United States, consenting to the bond of invasion –since America insists upon having its pound of flesh, so long as not a single drop of blood is spilled in Iran or North Korea—both slated to be the next targets in the war on terrorism—the terms being that the United States be forced to forfeit all its political and diplomatic power by the International Court should it fail to meet these terms.
Next, Portia stipulates that Shylock is to extract the exact sum of one pound of Antonio’s flesh and not a single ounce more or once again his lands and properties will be held forfeit. Shylock has even brought his balancing scales along to weigh the morbid article that is to be cut away. Observe how the weapon’s inspectors are now weighing the cache of weapons in their scales to determine whether or not there is cause to go to war.
So let Portia, in the guise of the UN, insist that the invading allied force strike only such installations as weapons silos and weapons caches. Should so much as a single tomahawk missile stray from its course and hit a civilian residence, water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, or telecommunications installation as occurred in the first Gulf War, the UN must insist that the United States be forced to forfeit its diplomatic and military power through the jurisdiction of the International Court.
Having been forced to capitulate on his bond, Shylock then requests that the debt of 3,000 ducats be paid with interest. Portia refuses to grant his request on the grounds that he had previously refused such an offer, having insisted instead on a pound of flesh without compromise. Instead, he is told that he will receive no collateral whatsoever on his bond.
So let it be said to the American president that his unprovoked preemptive strike on Iraq is unlawful and hypocritical since his father had already employed weapons of mass destruction on Iraq in the form of tomahawk missiles and bombs laced with depleted uranium, 87,000 tons of bombs, equivalent to seven and one half Hiroshimas, according to Ramsay C. Clark, Former Attorney-General of the United States. In addition, 100,000 cluster bombs have been scattered all over the Iraqi and Kuwaiti deserts, undetonated and waiting to go off.
Then Portia invokes Venetian legal precedent in order to exact a penalty on Shylock for deliberately threatening the life of a fellow citizen, for which all his lands are held forfeit, and at the mercy of the plaintiff to dispose of as he sees fit.
So let the International Court insist that the offended party, Iraq, be compensated by being permitted to refuse trading relations with the United States, while the International Court be empowered at the same time to force the U.S. government to forfeit all its political and military power, to be disposed of as the offending party Iraq sees fit.
Portia’s justice is not based on revenge or “might is right”, but upon appeal to higher wisdom. Let us be reminded of her words and address them to the U.S. president in the hope that he will heed her words:The quality of mercy is not strain’d;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute of awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above the sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.