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David Hines [userpic]

APED: "i hope to hell i'm wrong"

June 20th, 2009 (08:01 pm)

for Neda Agha-Soltan, who bled out at the corner of Khosravi Street and Salehi Street, Tehran, Iran, June 20, 2009.

The oldest and the harshest truths
are those we cast aside.
Too hurtful to the dreams of youth,
of peace obtained with pride:
But it's written out in martyrs' blood,
erased, and writ again:
when men with guns fight those without,
the men with guns will win.

We've seen it in Tiananmen,
and when the Ghost Dance rose,
the killing fields outside Pnomh Penh,
and on and on it goes --
the optimistic and devout
dead women, children, men:
when men with guns fight those without,
the men with guns will win.

And yet the martyrs still appear,
and yet they rise again,
their dedication true, sincere,
ignoring what portends.
Their hope we never wish to doubt,
although we know the end:
when men with guns fight those without,
the men with guns will win.

So pray the men with guns don't fight.
Or pray their hearts are kind.
Or pray they're careful with their might.
Or pray they change their minds.
Pray God will bring your wish about
or else we'll learn again:
when men with guns fight those without,
the men with guns will win.


Posted by: 1.618 (dynamicsymmetry)
Posted at: June 21st, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)

Been reading and lurking for a while but I have to speak up and say that I think this is tremendous, and I want to thank you for writing it.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 21st, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)

I appreciate your kind words, but don't know if I really should be thanked for this one. It's bitter as hell, but sometimes a bitter Kipling pastiche is merited. There is a very strong chance that this will end very, very badly. Once the mullahs decide to kill however many they have to in order to put the rest back in line, the protesters are pretty much fucked. Their only hope is for some of the men with guns -- the cops, the military -- to switch sides, and I am hoping like hell that happens. NYT reporter Roger Cohen saw some glimmers of it, but it hasn't happened yet.

Posted by: 1.618 (dynamicsymmetry)
Posted at: June 21st, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)

Agreed about the thanks... Gratitude was my initial impulse at finding some of my own feelings so eloquently expressed.

I keep remembering the protests in China in June 1989--women bringing their families to meet the members of the Chinese army, the children calling them "Uncle Soldier" and many of the soldiers initially saying that they would refuse to fire on their own people. Of course, we all know how that ended.

Hoping as well from this end.

Posted by: stalkere (stalkere)
Posted at: June 21st, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
You aren't wrong

I wish this one was plastered across the mainstream media so that everyone in America could see it...but it won't be.

There are those who will wring their hands - and others who castigate Obama for either not doing more or saying too much...
but in the end, it means nothing until the people of Iran have had enough, and the blood of the ayotollahs runs in the streets...

He that makes peaceful change impossible, makes violent change inevitable - RFK, 1964

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 21st, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)

I was very, very disappointed in Obama for the early chunk of this crisis. He seems to be waking up now, at least. The thing that gets me is that I *know* there are people who are rejoicing in the protesters' story right now who will then turn around and shrug when the protesters get shellacked. Hey, it's Iran! What can you do. Step over the bodies, get back to polite diplomacy.

(I want the protesters to win, and to start changing Iran, but I'm almost certain they won't, and that they'll die in numbers that the people championing their struggle from the safety of their keyboards can't imagine right now. But right now I have the strange feeling that a lot of people don't really believe that's going to happen.)

Posted by: stalkere (stalkere)
Posted at: June 22nd, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)

David, I really, really, feel for the plight of the people of Iran. They have a "sucking swampwater " situation.

I guess maybe my divergence is that, to paraphrase Bismarck, "there is nothing in Iran worth the life of a single American Soldier."

The end of "do something" is US troops getting shot at. The folks who get upset at the US for "interfering in the internal processes of other nations" get upset when we don't "interfere in the internal processes of other nations", that is, when they don't personally like those internal processes.

Iran threatening to fire nuclear missiles at Israel or Europe...that's something to deal with. The stolen election...sigh. I deplore what's going on, if I was an Iranian, I'd be out in the streets or planning to obtain some weapons, but as an American? It really is something I should watch and deplore.

We have a history of interfering with Iranian politics. IMHO, we ought to stop meddling in stuff we don't understand. While I'm not a fan of Obama, I think we'd be messing up more than we will fix. That's been our track record for the last 60 years. Just my $0.02

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 22nd, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)

That's the thing. I don't see American military action being a valid (or, frankly, necessary) response to this situation, though I don't think it would be a bad thing if a truckload or two of our captured AK-47s and ammo mysteriously went missing by the Iranian border. The thing that makes me profoundly uncomfortable is the fact that there are people -- here, I'll name a prominent name: Andrew Sullivan -- who are going giddy for the protests but who don't seem to have the possibility on their radar that the Iranian government will really honest-to-god put a bunch of mass graves in downtown Tehran. And if it happens, they'll shrug it off as realpolitik. The cognitive dissonance going from realpolitik to idealistic to realpolitik is jarring. To use a revolting parallel, it'll be rather like the death of Jazz in Michael Bay's first TRANSFORMERS flick.

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: June 23rd, 2009 03:37 am (UTC)

I'm not sure how I feel about what you're saying here. I have a lot of thinking to do on it. You are interesting. :)

Posted by: LB Lee (lb_lee)
Posted at: July 12th, 2009 07:18 am (UTC)

Not a big fan of poetry, generally, but this one made me think. So into the memories it goes.

Did the same with your moaning house one, but that's because I have a thing for creepy house poems. ;D

Thanks for giving me poetry to like.

--Random bystander

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