by Mario Huys

Gorky by the Volga
Gorky by the Volga

"Is the Pouch dead yet?" A fair question. Since you're reading this, you may assume that the answer is "No!". We were off the ether for quite some time, but thanks to the industriousness of the Pouch's Central Committee and some creativity on the part of our Glorious Workers and Heroes of the Revolution (each of which deserves an inedible Medal and an indestructible Statue to boot) we've reinvented ourselves as The Diplomatic Pouch at www.diplomatic-pouch.org. All those bookmarks you had set to diplom.org, please redirect them here.

As our next five year plan gets drawn up, the bench is being strengthened by the appointment of comrade Brian Lovelace, who will take over editing duties from semi-retired comrade Kevin Burt. Welcome, Brian. The Committee has sanctioned that you inherit the virtual desk and the flowers that don't need to be watered, because they're plastic. Brian is actually a very capable and stylish guy. Thanks to him style sheets are becoming ubiquitous in the Zine and GitHub was voted to the top spot for storage and version control. We're "modernizing" proletarians.

If you spotted a few jabs at a certain "yuge" country with a long and storied communist past, it's because Russia is front and center in this issue. And not because they might have rigged the election. Well, also that...

Ever since the election, which came shortly after the publication of our previous issue, the Trump Show has taken on a new dimension. And the world took note. They definitely did. In an unending series of YouTube videos that the Dutch started, every country and region in the world (it seems) made an effort to introduce themselves as the best choice for Trump's "America first, (someone else) second" promise. Ostensibly directed at the president himself, his every word and action gets parodied (parroted) and given couleur locale.

If you're on social media, you probably already know about these. If you're a supporter of the new president, you might be offended. Even I think that a good deal of them are overly offensive or unimaginatively repetitive. Who invented this slur on the size of his hands anyway? I'm sorry, but that's body shaming, no more, no less. His hands are expressive and a big part of his appeal. Study them, don't degrade them.

But what I find most fascinating in the videos are the local references: The rival nations, the national history, the claims of grandeur of each of them. Who knew that Lithuania considers itself the center of Europe (agreed, they have a pretty good claim)? Or that Bosnians are regarded as the prototype of the construction worker by their neighbors and themselves? Or that Iran would post its own contribution?

For Diplomacy players this provides an excellent trove to harvest for the next game you're playing in or as a jump-off point to explore more about the history of a particular nation, better still because it's mostly centered around the European countries. Be aware though that there's a lot of fake imitations by non-nationals that tack on the hype. For a more or less sanctioned list, visit the site everysecondcounts.eu - and hurry, every second counts. Literally, because some of these YouTube accounts have already started to disappear. Just like the Pouch. But don't despair. We're working on bringing it all back. For you, for us, for those who will come and those that have gone. Diplomacy fans, rejoice!

Enjoy the Pouch!

Email writer thumbnail Mario Huys
The Editor

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