Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Guantanamo Poetry

The WSJ has a human interest feature today about an anthology of poetry (translated from Arabic) by Guantanamo detainees which some of the defense lawyers have facilitated publishing. Though the military has concerns that the poems could be used to relay coded messages to outside al Qaeda operatives, they've approved translations of 22 poems by 17 prisoners for publication. (You can read two examples in the WSJ article.)

I'm sure this will provide another opportunity for much breast beating and declarations that, in the words of one of the poems, "America, you ride on the backs of orphans, And terrorize them daily."

It also serves as a reminder of what a strangely untenable situation we find ourselves in with the wars in the Middle East: Traditionally POWs are held until the enemy surrenders, but here we are faced with an enemy that has no national government, no uniforms, no military code, and no intention of every surrendering. A goodly portion of those detainees who have been released have shown up back in Afghanistan, fighting coalition forces there.

Still, the idea of the prisoners sitting around writing poety carries vague echoes of a time some 900 to 700 years ago, when Arab and Western warriors fought over the same sands, and composed poems about life and death and God.

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