The ever-temperate front page of The Independent screams, “IS LEBANON WALKING INTO ANOTHER NIGHTMARE?” Without a copy to hand, I think you can imagine the name and the roseate visage that make up the byline beneath the headline. Because the Indie charges for access to the online version of its output I can only quote the opening paragraph of the article that follows:
Lebanon confronts a nightmare today. As the Syrian army begins its withdrawal from the country this morning, after mounting pressure from President George Bush – whose anger at the Syrians has been provoked by the insurgency against American troops in Iraq – there are growing signs that the Syrian retreat is reopening the sectarian divisions of the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war.
This is illustrated with a picture of young, beige, male protestors screaming at the camera. One has a bare chest, a studded leather strap around his wrist. He is acting up with a knife. For the rest of today at least you can see the photo here. Its implication: these people are Savages, who will be lost to Chaos without the Firm Hand of their uniformed Ba’athist overseers.
I might not be able to share with you Robert’s latest, but I can, by the magic of PooterGeek’s Future News feature, bring you the entire text of a yet-to-be-published masterpiece from the prizewinning journalist:
McDonalds and Wal-Mart now stretch from Gulf to Mediterranean. The American Empire smothers the history and pride of an entire region under a film of “democracy”. One country, however, still holds firm. There is no Starbucks in Fiskistan. Only the UN staff flown in to counsel victims at special rape crisis centres own 4x4s—and those centres would not be needed if a decade of American-sponsored sanctions had not driven the men of Fiskistan to sexually assault the largely Kurdish servant population. Here the cinemas show no Jerry Bruckheimer “actioners”; only the plaintive traditional sound of the Fiskistani nose whistle echoes out across night vistas of the rocky desert.
Fiskistan is the forgotten front in the so-called War on Terror. For a few months in the 1950s, members of the First Ambridge Battalion of the Queen’s Infantry seized this tiny country—then divided into a patchwork of statelets dominated by rival warlords—in order to secure a supply line during the Suez campaign. For that short time guerrilla fighters led by Muarbad Fiski made life for the reluctant colonial rulers hell, as they were forced to butcher young Englishmen fresh from the Home Counties to protect their nomadic existence from foreign interference.
Yesterday, American troops, closely followed (as we have come to expect) by British forces, showed that they have learned little since that folly, as they marched back into the country whence they were driven just over half-a-century ago. The assault by the so-called Coalition on the borders of this miniscule territory raged for over seventeen minutes before Lt Col Ronald Fothersgill made his historic mobile phone call to Queen Elizabeth herself, informing her that Upper Fiskia was once again under British military control.
Deeper in Fiskistan than even the most advanced of the “Coalition” soldiers, I spend the day at The Re-Education Facility of the Glorious Leader where guards and guarded shudder at the thought of the invasion. Outside the barbed wire fence set up to protect the site from the advancing US Marines, smiling Fiskistani children play. The human skull they are kicking around in a makeshift football game keeps getting lodged in the craters left by American depleted uranium cluster bomblets, their already-deadly payload laced with MMR vaccine and Sudan-1.
Asif is one of the administrators. He lives in constant dread of the arrival of the Americans. I ask him about his fears. His reply speaks for many. He pauses in his work and stubs out his cigarette on the forehead of one of the residents of the camp, seated in a rather substantial chair beside him. He politely wipes his hands clean on a beautiful traditionally embroidered Fiskistani handkerchief before shaking my hand and addressing me:
“My father was a jailer. His father was a jailer. These electrodes were handed down to me through the generations, just like our presidency. (May his Glorious Countenance Shine Upon The Fatherland Until Eternity.) They were first used by my grandfather on the balls of the last openly elected leader of the opposition. I hold history in my hands. When these Yankee dogs come here with their human pyramids, and their pointy black hoods, and their digital cameras, all of this heritage will be wiped out—just as the Jews have wiped out Palestine. They know nothing of our ways. Who will keep order when there are twenty different brands of toothbrush on the shelves? Who will pull the teeth that they brush? Eh? I spit in their decaff latte!”
His sadness is palpable. Whatever happens next it will be the end of an
As I leave the facility, a group of uniformed staff approach along the path to the main gate, almost ready to begin their shift. I greet them with a friendly nod. They respond with a shouted question:
I tell them that I am a journalist for The Independent. In a moment they are upon me. One pulls a pistol out of his holster and beats me about the head with its butt:
“Unfunny bastard Miles Kington! Robbie Williams! Kilroy! Celine Dion! Die Pigdog!
The others are kicking me with their boots, punching me with their bare hands, only pausing to roll up the khaki sleeves of their fatigues. I know I am paying for all of our crimes, for every step in our crusade to bring “freedom” to peoples of whom we know little more than the sorry tales of our previous doomed expeditions to plunder their lands. I welcome the blows. I want them to beat me with their swarthy, manly, Arab forearms until my blood washes away the crimes of the Bushes and the Blairs. Spank me, Ahmed! Spank me for my sins! I want to feel your brown cosh…
[At this point, unfortunately, Nurse Wilson had to remove Robert’s hands from his laptop.]