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Poetry Page 7

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The Civilised World

How goes the war on terror, George?
Is Al Qaeda under control?
Does the world know peace, freedom and justice?
I think I'd say "No" on the whole.

In the days after 9/11,
The goodwill of the world was yours;
I might have opened a dialogue;
I might have pondered the cause.

I might have considered the issues,
Asked what the solutions might be.
Beating the crap out of everybody
Never occurred to me.

Justice had to be done;
George, who made that attack?
I think we know they were Saudi;
Let's invade Iraq.

Well, they showed no respect for the United Nations,
Only contempt for that forum;
You can't keep ignoring the UN like they did;
George, we showed 'em the way to ignore 'em.

But Iraq has now turned against us;
I suppose it's what you'd expect;
Beating the crap out of everybody
Tends to have that effect.

There were links with Al Qaeda, you told us;
Iraq? Not a chance, we said; never;
But thanks to your tactical awareness, George,
You might just have pushed them together.

Remember the day the war ended?
George, it just seems to drag on;
But we're going to liberate these people
If we have to kill every last one.

How shall we win hearts and minds?
Don't tell me, George; I think I know; Beating the crap out of everybody;
I think we should give that a go.

Bomb the hospital, shoot the ambulance driver;
Knock the neighbourhood flat.
It's a good job that they aren't real people;
You can't treat real people like that.

Why not stop selling arms round the world;
Change the whole scheme of world trade;
Take a fresh look at Israel and Palestine;
It's not what you want, I'm afraid.

We could build a new world based on justice,
Do things according to law;
Beating the crap out of everybody?
It hasn't solved problems before.

How goes the war on terror, George?
It's a war, George; can anyone win?
The world needs peace, freedom and justice;
It's a long road; but why not begin?

Les Barker, 2004

You can find out more about Les Barker by visiting his web site

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