When the British and the French almost
literally drew lines in the sand
to divvy up the Ottoman Empire –
tutored by romantic, wistful Arabists
at the Quai D’Orsay and the Foreign Office –
there was nothing left for the Yazidis,
the Druze, the Kurds… It was always about oil –
and then Sunni Arabs and Zionist Jews.
It is always about oil, diamonds,
timber, gold, slaves, coal — and useful idiots.
Saddam hanged, Gaddafi sodomized then shot.
Being careless about what you wish for
appears to bring bandits, to make Frankenstein
monsters out of mercenaries, assassins
out of mujahideen. Better perhaps
the secret police, with pensionable jobs,
than unofficial executioners?
Better restriction than chaos, repression
than havoc? Better to live in servitude
since death ends all chance of liberty?
The democratic chancellories
of Europe, its communes and councils are
panders soliciting votes from racists
to prostitute the body politic.
They make virtue of prevarication
and casuistry; extol cohesion
and nationhood; plead penury –
yet erect frontiers of razor wire
and bomb far-fetched ideologies,
making accidental martyrs and migrants.
Does only a fool or knave decry
the efficacy of aerial bombing?
Do only knaves or fools advocate peace?
Do only both call, ‘Follow the money!
It’s all about oil!’? Will it always be
about oil – until the earth has become
one unrelenting desert, one vast sea
and there is no one to care about money?
Tetchy, ironic, rhetorical
questions give no shelter, change nothing.
It is about oil and useful innocents
seeking exile, seeking sanctuary.
They run from the bullets at the border –
anonymous children, young men, women
in labour, grandmas – or wait, patiently
for the most part, as if despair were a crime,
as if anger were a fault, in the rain
and the smoke, or, duped, drown in silence.
Theirs has become a name, whoever they are,
to conjure pity and heart break – or lies.