National Insecurity Complex Hotline


An original skit for readers theater by Ralph Hutchison

Performed at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, July 5, 2010

Sing on stage like the Peanuts comic: The Doctor is IN

COUNSELOR:    You’ve reached the National Insecurity Complex hotline. How may I help you?
SAM:    I’m afraid.
COUNSELOR:    Afraid of what?
SAM:    People are trying to get me.
COUNSELOR:    Get you?
SAM:    Get my stuff.
COUNSELOR:    They want your stuff?
SAM:    I have to protect my stuff.
COUNSELOR:    I see. Could we back up a minute? I’d like to get some info. Your name?
SAM:    Sam.
COUNSELOR:    Okay, Sam, and where do you live.
SAM:    The United States of America
COUNSELOR:    Right. And what part of the United States of America?
SAM:    All of it.
COUNSELOR:    You live in all of it?
SAM:    Right. I am the USA.
COUNSELOR:    I…see. So, Sam, perhaps you could tell me who it is who is trying to get your stuff.     Who are “they?”
SAM:    The communists.
COUNSELOR:    The communists?
SAM:    Well, okay, not any more, not the communists now. It’s the Soviets. Only they aren’t the Soviets anymore. It’s…I guess it’s just the Russians. Although maybe-
COUNSELOR (interrupts): Anyway, the who is not so important. They want to get you. Or your stuff.
SAM:    Yes. Well, I mean, they did want to get my stuff.
COUNSELOR:    I see. And you’re afraid of them because you are feeling vulnerable and unprotected.
SAM:    No, no. I’m not unprotected. Hell, I have thousands of bombs-five thousand nine hundred strategic nuclear warheads to be exact, and hundreds more tactical ones. Honey, I am the most protected person on the planet.
COUNSELOR:    I see. So, uh, now you have me wondering what exactly is the problem.
SAM:    The problem is I have built all these bombs to protect my stuff, but whenever I build more bombs, they build more bombs, then I build more bombs. And it turns out I’m never really feeling secure.
COUNSELOR:    Well, that would be a problem.
SAM:    And I don’t feel good about it.
COUNSELOR:    You don’t feel good about it?
SAM:    The bomb building. I don’t feel good about it.
COUNSELOR:    Yes. I can understand. It sounds to me like we need to set up a consultation. If you don’t mind, I’m going to put you on hold while I check with Dr. Strangelove’s schedule.
*** M U Z A K ***

“Ring around the thistles, We’ve got nuclear missiles
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”

“RING, RING” (new caller)
COUNSELOR:    National Insecurity Complex hotline, how may I help you?
HILLARY (manic): I should be asking you! I am feeling great! This is wonderful!
COUNSELOR (warily): Ms. Clinton?
HILLARY:    Call me Hillary. I’m on top of the world!
COUNSELOR:    Well, this is certainly a change from the last time we spoke. And to what do we owe this mood swin-uh, change?
HILLARY:    Think of it! A world free of nuclear weapons! The President promised we’re on the way to a world free of nuclear weapons, and I’m in the driver’s seat.
COUNSELOR:    Well that sounds wonderful. No wonder you are in such a good mood.
HILLARY:    Oh, yeah. Zero nuclear weapons. It’s all good. It’s all good. I mean it’s all good.
Counselor (after brief pause): Except…
HILLARY:    Well, except for the new bomb plants.
COUNSELOR:    New bomb plants.
HILLARY:    Right. You see, to get to zero nuclear weapons, we have to build three new production plants.
COUNSELOR:    Production plants. To produce?
HILLARY:    Nuclear weapons.
COUNSELOR:    Okay, I’m a little confused. It sounded like you were saying in order to rid the world of nuclear weapons, you are going to build new bombs plants to build more nuclear weapons.
HILLARY:    Right.
COUNSELOR:    I’m not sure I see how that works.
HILLARY:    Well, we have to get this Treaty ratified. We signed a treaty with Russia, and we have to get the Senate to ratify the treaty, and in order to get the votes to ratify the treaty, we have to promise to build three new multi-billion dollar bomb plants.
COUNSELOR:    What treaty is this again?
HILLARY:    It’s the treaty that says we don’t need as many bombs as we have.
COUNSELOR:    The treaty says we’re moving to zero nuclear weapons?
HILLARY:    Right. Except not quite zero. But 1,600.
COUNSELOR:    Because we need that many bombs?
HILLARY:    No, no, that’s way more than we’ll ever need.
COUNSELOR:    And you said it would cost a lot…
HILLARY:    Billions!
COUNSELOR:    Billions. I, uh, I have to ask. Can we afford it?
HILLARY:    No! But we have to do it! Our children will thank us.
COUNSELOR:    Our children will thank us for…bankrupting them?
HILLARY:          No, for keeping them safe.
COUNSELOR:    By launching a new global arms race?
HILLARY:    You know, you’re no fun.
COUNSELOR:    Sorry to be a downer. It’s just that…

** RING! RING! **

COUNSELOR:    Excuse me, Ms. Clinton, I have another call. ( Clicks over ) National Insecurity Complex hotline. Do you have an insecurity complex I can help you with?
GATES:    I feel like I’m going crazy.
COUNSELOR:    Can you say more about what makes you feel this way?
GATES:    It’s just that I can’t get my head around this, and I’m supposed to be the guy in charge.
COUNSELOR:    The guy in charge of…
GATES:    Defense. I’m the Secretary of Defense. Robert Gates.
COUNSELOR:    Gates. Gates. That name seems-oh, right. How are you, Robert?
GATES:    Fine, I mean, I guess.
COUNSELOR:    We haven’t talked since that Iran/Contra stuff blew up in your face and your career was over.
GATES:    Right. Except it turns out it wasn’t. That’s where it all started to get twisted. Instead of screw up, you’re fired, disgrace, it was screw up, you’re fired, and promoted. I mean I’ve done things you wouldn’t believe.
COUNSELOR:    Try me.
GATES:    I mean CIA. Can’t talk about it. But trust me, you would not believe.
COUNSELOR:    I see. And you’re calling today…
GATES:    My job is to protect the country. But it’s hard.
COUNSELOR:    Because…
GATES:    I don’t think I have the right tools.
COUNSELOR:    You don’t have anything to protect the country with?
GATES:    Oh, no, I have things. I have aircraft carriers, submarines, ballistic missiles, jet fights. I have the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Reserves. I have cruise missiles, tomahawk missiles, hellfire missiles. I have predator drones. I have thermonuclear bombs. I have…
GATES:    Well, these things are all supposed to make the enemy afraid. But the enemy is not afraid. The deal always has been if you are big enough and strong enough, the threat is enough.
GATES:    Some people, it turns out, will die for what they believe. They are so angry or so devoted or so deluded or all of the above – but when someone has a bomb strapped to their chest, and they come at me, and I point my gun – “Don’t come any closer or I’ll” – I’ll what? Kill them?
COUNSELOR:    Yes, I see your point. That’s a sticky one.
GATES:    The rules have changed. We can’t bully people like we used to. It’s not working in Afghanistan. I have all these bombs and they still aren’t buying me security. If anything, they make things worse.
COUNSELOR:    Insecurity complexes tend to do that, I must–

** RING! RING!**

COUNSELOR:    – Just a second, Mr. Gates. I have another call.
JACK COHEN-JOPPA:    Is this the insecurity complex hotline?
COUNSELOR:    Yes, how may I help you.
JACK:       God, I am so tired.
COUNSELOR:    Tired of what?
JACK:       Tired of it all. Work, work, work for thirty years it’s been work, work, work – does it ever do any good? Any of it?
COUNSELOR:    What exactly is “it”?
JACK:       Resistance.
COUNSELOR:    What is it you’re resisting?
JACK:       Nuclear weapons, nuclear power, oppressive regimes, terrorism, injustice, bad things.
COUNSELOR:    That sounds like a good thing to be doing, resisting evil.
JACK:       But I’ve been at it for so long.
COUNSELOR:    Yes, thirty years is a long time.
JACK:       And every time I think we’re getting somewhere, we get slammed.
COUNSELOR:    That would be frustrating.
JACK:       You have no idea. I mean-
GATES (breaking in): Hello? Hello? Are you still there?
COUNSELOR:    Just one minute, I’m going to put you on hold for a second, please.
(click, click)
GATES:    Hello? Hello?
JACK:       Hello?
GATES:    Thank God you’re back. I was saying, I’m beginning to wonder if we’re on the right track at all.
JACK:       Right. That’s what I was saying.
GATES:    I mean, I wonder if our bombs are useless.
JACK:       Not wonder, really. I know they’re useless. Who are we going to blow up?
GATES:    Right. You…You sound so sure.
JACK:       I do?
GATES:    The problem is bombs are about all we’ve got. We spent billions-trillions-and there are all these jobs. The economy of whole towns…
JACK:       And when I think of this mess, and all we’ve invested, and how little it seems we’ve done. Sometimes I just feel like giving up.
GATES:    Yes. Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.
JACK:       You, too?
GATES:    Yeah.
JACK:       Oh my God. Just what I need. I call the insecurity hotline and the counselor is ready to give up.
GATES:    What did you say?
JACK:       I said I hardly expected the insecurity counselor hotline to be so pessimistic.
GATES:    I’m not the counselor, you are.
JACK:       No, I’m not the counsel-hey, the wires must have gotten crossed somehow. Who are you?
GATES:    I’m Bob Gates.
JACK:       The Secretary of De-
GATES:    Yeah. Who are you?
JACK:       Jack Cohen-Joppa, the Nuclear Resister.
GATES:    I’ll be damned.
JACK:       More than likely.
GATES:    Metaphorically.
JACK:       Oh.
GATES:    So why were you calling?
JACK:       Because I’m just so tired, and questioning my whole approach. Am I crazy?… and why were you calling?
GATES:    Pretty much the same thing. Questioning. Hey, maybe you and I should –
Counselor (interrupting): Hello? Hello? Are you there?
JACK and GATES:    Yes.
COUNSELOR:    I’m so sorry. Something happened there with the phones when I tried to do-hey, were you talking to each other?
JACK and GATES:    Yep.
COUNSELOR:    Oh, my.
GATES (reasserting): Oh, my? Oh, my? It’s an outrage, that’s what it is. I call for a consultation for, uh, for my nephew, and I end up talking to a guy in Arizona. I don’t need this. “CLICK!”
COUNSELOR:    Mr. Gates? Mr. Gates?
JACK:       I think he’s gone.
COUNSELOR:    Are you – are you okay, sir?
JACK:       You know, he said he thought it was crazy, too. In his heart of hearts, he knows. That means – good heavens, that means I can’t give up now. We need resistance now more than ever. I better get back to – Felice! Felice!