Posted by: johnhourihan | October 10, 2012

Our real foreign policy is simple

Our real foreign policy is a visit to Lenny’s Lunch
“Lenny’s Lunch” was not a place to eat.
It was more of a way to protect several people and maintain a balance of power in a hostile world.
People write to me with questions about why the United States has always seemed to feel its military might must be scattered around in blatant worldwide displays of muscle.
There are days on which I find what I’m about to say just plain wrong, but there are other days I have to admit it works to an extent, and if nothing else it explains our seemingly nonsensical foreign policy.
Just like “Lenny’s Lunch.”
While we were growing up, Lenny and I were about the same size.
After high school, he got a job and I went to college. Subsequently, we both went into the military. He ended up in Korea and I went to Vietnam.
After we had grown up, we met again a newspaper where we both worked. I was a columnist and he was a supervisor in the composing room.
We had both changed, but he had changed more.
For one thing, if someone insulted him the whole room stopped breathing. When this happened one morning when someone laughed at his biscotti and tea, I looked around the room and was impressed with my childhood friend‘s commanded respect. One thing was for certain, my skinny boyhood friend was now a stogie-chewing Italian block of a young man who was feared by everyone in the place.
Although we had split the fights we had when we were young, I wasn’t messing with Lenny now.
He had become fast friends with Charlie who owned a gym in town, and had gotten seriously into lifting weights and working out. His Roman bloodline and his new hundred pounds of muscle made it appear that an Italian Renaissance sculptor had come to Milford and chiseled out a this man from a hunk of boy.
On the second day I was at the News, I went to put my lunch in the refrigerator and saw something strange.
There were 10 or 12 brown-bag lunches on the shelves, and each one had the same words etched on it: “Lenny’s Lunch” in red magic marker.
I left my unidentified lunch bag on the top shelf and went out to the composing room.
“Hey Lenny, what’s this with all the lunches?”
He laughed.
“Some scum has been stealing lunches, and everyone decided whoever it was wouldn’t chance eating my lunch, so they all write ‘Lenny’s Lunch’ on the bag before they put it in the fridge.”
“Is it working?”
“Go grab yourself a lunch,” he smiled. “But I’m going to be pretty upset if turns out to be mine.”
Whoever had been stealing food decided it wasn’t worth the chance. Me too.
So when I see the United States Army in so many foreign places, and when I hear our secretary of state back-patting some middle eastern leader or African head of state, I realize countries who are stronger than some but weaker than the United States aren’t quite as quick to mess with a small country onto which we have stamped the imprimatur of one of the last real super powers left standing.
It seems to me that all we’re doing with our foreign involvement is writing “Lenny’s Lunch” in bright red letters on everyone’s lunch bag to keep the scum out of the refrigerator.



  1. Now this made me stop and think. Now I have a headache. It’s 12:30am and I have to be to work at 7:00am. I can’t help but to think if I were that scum I’d have to pull the plug on the fridge. I’d just have to!!

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