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Great retorts

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2007

A friend who is decidedly not a jingoistic America-firster, but has a good sense of humor, sent me the following. They're certainly not new — the first one, according to Snopes , dates from 2003 (but it's basically true, although the location and the former Archbishop's question have been altered, and Powell's response shortened). But if you haven't seen them, you might get a chuckle or three out of them:

When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by
the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example
of 'empire building' by George Bush. He answered by saying, "Over the
years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women
into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only
amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those
that did not return." It became very quiet in the room.


Then there was a conference in France where a number of international
engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a
break one of the French engineers came back into the room saying "Have
you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to
do, bomb them?"

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: "Our carriers have three
hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are
nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore
facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000
people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of
fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen
helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from
their flight deck.. We have eleven such ships; how many does France
have?" Once again, dead silence.


A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included
Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies.
At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of
Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone
was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French
admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many
languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, "Why is it that
we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than
speaking French?" Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied
"Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged
it so you wouldn't have to speak German?" You could have heard a pin drop!

As I said, the first one is genuine, but I can't vouch for the second and third — no luck at Snopes, although there are plenty of pages with those quotes. But I really like the one about why the French don't have to speak German, and I hope it's true. 

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