Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Thank you, President Bush

Author: Paulo Coelho

I wrote the letter below on March 9, 2003, ten days before the invasion of Iraq. It is the most widely read text I have written, having been published in the leading newspapers across the world and all over the Internet: close to 500 million people have read it.

The war is now entering its 6th year, and over 4,000 American soldiers have lost their lives, together with an indefinite number of Iraqis. According to the CNN (March 24, 2008), “estimates of the Iraqi death toll range from about 80,000 to the hundreds of thousands, with another 2 million forced to leave the country and 2.5 million displaced within Iraq, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees”.

Many of the people I mention have already left the scene, yet the war goes on. At the moment, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Below are some extracts from the letter:

Thank you, great leader George W. Bush.

Thank you for showing everyone what a danger Saddam Hussein represents. Many of us might have forgotten that he used chemical weapons against his own people, against the Kurds and against the Iranians. Hussein is a bloodthirsty dictator, today seen as one of the world’s clearest expressions of evil.

But that is not the only reason I have for thanking you. During the first two months of 2003, you showed the world a great many important things. So, recalling a poem I learned as a child, I would like to express my gratitude.

Thank you for revealing to the world the enormous gulf that exists between the decisions made by those in power and the wishes of the people. Thank you for making it clear that neither José Maria Aznar nor Tony Blair really care or show the slightest respect for the votes they received. Aznar is capable of ignoring the fact that 90% of Spaniards are against the war and Blair is unmoved by the largest public demonstration to take place in England in the last thirty years.

Thank you for insisting that Tony Blair should appear before Parliament with a fabricated dossier written by a student ten years ago, and present this as ‘damning evidence collected by the British Secret Service’.

Thank you too, because, after all your efforts to promote war, the normally divided Arab nations were for the first time unanimous in condemning any invasion, at a meeting held in Cairo.

Thank you also for your rhetoric stating that ‘the UN now has a chance to demonstrate its relevance’, which made even the most reluctant countries take a stance against any attacks.

Thank you for trying to divide a Europe that is struggling for unification; this was a warning that will not go unheeded.

Thank you for having achieved something that very few have so far managed to do in this century: bringing millions of people together on all continents to fight for the same idea, even though that idea is opposed to yours.

Thank you, because without you we would not have realized our own ability to mobilize. It may serve no purpose this time, but it will be useful later on. Now that there seems no way of silencing the drums of war, I would like to borrow the words of an ancient European king to an invader: ‘May your morning be a beautiful one, with the sun shining on your soldiers’ armor, for in the afternoon I will defeat you.’

So, enjoy your morning and whatever glory it may yet bring you.

Thank you for not listening to us and not taking us seriously, but understand that we hear you and will not forget your words.

Thank you, great leader George W. Bush.

Thank you very much.

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