introduction
On Living the Privileges of Empire
I did not awake this morning to the deafening noise of sirens or the
rocketing sound of nonstop bombs. I did not awake to the missiles that fall
like rain from the sky, exploding on contact with land, staking out huge
craters within the earth, collapsing people into buildings, trees into rub-
ble, men into women, hands into feet, children into dust.∞ Two thousand
tons of ammunition in three hours. Forty-two air raids in one day.
Twenty-seven thousand air raids in a decade.≤ I did not awake this morn-
ing to the taste of desolation, nor to the crusts of anger piled high from
decades of neglect. I did not awake to the familiar smell of charred flesh,
which sand storms use to announce the morning raid. I did not awaken in
Basra to the familiar smell of hunger, or of grief for that matter, residual
grief from the last twelve years that now has settled as a thick band of air
everywhere. Breathing grief for a lifetime can be toxic. Breathing only grief
simply kills. I did not awake in Falluja, symbol of the post-election settle-
ment wager: votes in exchange for bombs. I awoke this morning from a
comfortable bed, avoiding the interminable queues for rations of fuel or
food, because I have the privilege to choose to live, unlike many who have
lost their lives in the insatiable service of imperialism.
What do lives of privilege look like in the midst of war and the inevita-
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