The poet Ali Mashangian shares some of his notes on the recent war in Iraq:
War brings contradiction. One minute newspapers say: “Bomb, bomb, bomb.” The next: “Roll up, roll up! Ladies and gentlemen, meet Stumpy the boy with no arms. Step up and shake your disbelief, but not his hands – he hasn’t any! Come see the boy with no limbs folks — alms for the poor, alms for the poor — alms geddit? Roll up, roll up, take a peek at the freak.”
War goes on while people pay off mortgages. Now with no WMDs found it makes them think: “Gee. Nowhere in the small print did it say that as a result of working to pay off the loan for my home I would cease to care about people being blown to pieces halfway across the world.”
Office tensions, porn channel, STD check, Reiki class, ah yes, life goes on in the West. Coming home from work pick up the evening edition. Brown people among rubble. More brown people more rubble. What is it with brown people and rubble? One follows the other. I've seen the same pictures in Palestine. Where you see brown people, you see rubble.
Saddam under rubble? This war led to some distinctly unsure headlines. Saddam still under rubble says US army chief. Basra falls. Basra falls again. Basra falls for the last time we promise. We will get Saddam, vows Bush. I thought we already got him and Basra fell.
Saddam dead. Saddam will be dead. Chief says Saddam in hiding — dead. Dead can't hide says Left. Eat shit and die you tree-hugging appeasers, says Right. “But it’s true, the deceased do not hide of their own accord,” says Chomsky.
We appreciate people’s concerns about the distortions of what some might consider fact, says Blair, but the truth is Saddam’s days are numbered. Basra falls again. Baghdad invaded. Museums raided. History eroded. “They don't have their own history so they want to destroy ours,” say the natives. My heart bleeds, says Rumsfeld.
Precision-guided bomb hit the Mansur district. Mansur himself had no idea Saddam was precisely behind, beneath or inside him when he was killed. “I thought I was on my own,” says Mansur. So do fifteen other souls who now wander the streets in search of an answer. If the dead can really haunt I hope they visit the White House. They’ll get past those Arab-proof security checks no problem. And one night, as Bush is sleeping, a whisper: “Hey, George, it’s Mansur.”
Right-wing exiles line up to prescribe war. It’s an illness. The White House rears these drones, deployed to legitimise the onslaught against their own people by the US. Ahmed Chalabi and the Middle East experts who lend their support to Bush display no sense of kinship to their own people. They are, after all, people the US owns.
In wartime experts grow on trees. They do, I have seen them in the park. There they are brandishing lies where spring flowers should be. What are you doing up there, I shout. “Don’t you know? I am a Middle East expert”. But why up there, where I can’t reach? “Did no one tell you? We grow on trees.”
This war is driving me insane. You can’t even hug a tree for all the experts in it.
Surveillance is such that soon even sexual technique will be up for scrutiny. “You are under arrest under suspicion of being a terrorist. We were watching you last night, you were grooving like an Arab, and you had his sense of rhythm, his Oriental musk.” No, it is hate that terrorists make, that’s not what I was doing.
The next Olympics will feature a new sport: the opinion-pole vault. The person with the strongest sense of risk wins. Blair makes a passionate speech, it swings this way. The French say no, it swings that way. One of our boys is killed, watch how it remains erect.
Peyvand Khorsandi is a writer, standup comedian and former publisher of E-RUN magazine in the UK.