November 18, 2003

London's Writing

Brits write letters to Bush on the eve of his arrival in London:

Dear President Bush,

If you should - by some security mistake - catch a glimpse of the enormous demonstrations expected during your visit, do not underestimate their meaning. This is not old Europe anti-Americanism. We are by no means an anti-American nation. Apart from the left fringe and the mohican fringe, we are broadly pro-American and always have been. No, this is personal. This is about you and your neo-conservative monsters who have illegitimately captured the White House with cash and hanging chads.

Tony Blair has made a catastrophic error in allying himself to you, when he could have built a social democratic alternative vision of western democracy with our European allies. Go now, don't come back, be a one-term aberration the world can forget as soon as possible.
Polly Toynbee
Writer and commentator

Dear President Bush,

I'm sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments.
Harold Pinter

Dear President Bush,

The child who has lost his arms
thought he was catching a ball
when the bomb his enemies dropped
bounced through his dapper hall.

Look at him here in his bed
washed by the camera glare:
the world must know what happened,
and show how truly it cares.

Was it in fact his foes
who threw this thing in his house?
Or was it perhaps his friends -
hence their exceptional fuss?

Guilt is the great disguiser,
blacking the white of the sun.
One thing we know for sure:
the ball goes bouncing on.

Andrew Motion
Poet laureate

Dear George,

There is no way to write this but in anger. For the dead and mutilated you have left in the wake of your shocking tread, from Afghanistan to Iraq. For the prisoners you have caged, manacled and tortured, from Bagram to Guantanamo. For your worship of the warrior. For the smart bombs you dropped from 30,000ft and the missiles you fired from 1,000 miles. For the flesh this hateful technology has charred and for the limbs it has severed. For your threats to the sovereign nations and international bodies who oppose your ambitions. For the crass lies you told the world. For your cynical corruption of law. For your naked plundering of a conquered people's wealth. For your blank cheque to Ariel Sharon. For every signature with which you consigned a human being to the death chamber in Texas. For the super-rich friends you have so handsomely rewarded and for the poor, unemployed and marginal in your own country whose lives you continue to blight. For making the world an infinitely more dangerous place.

For all these reasons, do not be fooled by the flags you will see fluttering on the Mall. Do not be fooled by the red carpets the toadies will guide you to step upon.

Look about you, if your hosts will let you look, if your flunkeys dare let you peek from beneath the official shield. Look about you when you land. You will see people in their tens of thousands protesting against your visit. Do not say we are "lucky" to live in a country that permits free speech and free assembly. Do not insult us like that. Those rights were hard won.

I doubt that what you see will chasten you, still less change your mind - you are a man of conviction, of ideological certainty, you have truly global ambitions and power to match - but at least it should be clear to you, Mr Bush, that you are not welcome here.
Ronan Bennett


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