“Today you don’t have to feel like a bastard to be one.”

Michael Neumann

About Saddam they are never wrong, The Oil Meisters. He is a bastard, Given how he gassed his own people While they were eating, opening a window Or just walking dully along; how He sleeps his heavy-lidded sleep While his henchmen round up victims For slow suffocation in the back Alleys of Takrit. He is a bastard, Given how he kills to stay in power; how He’s been starving children who Did not especially want it to happen; how He’s been stealing elections; how He’s been grooming his sons for Succession. He is a bastard, Given how he’s grown rich, while The working poor get poorer, Their children dying sick in one-night Cheap hotels. He is a bastard, Given how he’s been building Weapons of mass destruction, Each so truly awesome, they never Come up for inspection. He is a bastard, Given how he hides in bunkers, And has outfoxed, outlasted all of us.

M. SHAHID ALAM teaches economics at Northeastern University. His recent book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave (2000). He can be reached at:


M. SHAHID ALAM is professor of economics at Northeastern University. This is an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Macmillan, November 2009). Contact me at