A poem about diplomatic dithering

This poem was inspired by a Sunday morning UK/US press conference during the Libya uprising in 2011. Below is an audio of the poem as broadcast on the BBC World Service.  

The Secretaries for Stating

We’re the Secretaries for Stating
in our Sunday morning sweaters.
Now, we’re issuing a call
for an orderly transition
to a newly held position:
We no longer back the sinners.

Let us dare to meet the winners.
We’ll send in our foreign legion
but there’ll be misunderstandings.
Hmm, perhaps it would be better
not to travel to the region.

We propose a no-die zone
and a roadmap to restraint.
We do not condone dictators.
Some last minute modulations
to that closely-scripted statement
will be circulated later.

Yes, we’re the pros at promulgating
with our monumental utterings,
our syncopated mutterings,
our calibrated flutterings,
our finely-crafted splutterings,
our tut tut tut tut tutterings.

The kings of indignating.

We’re the Secretaries for Stating.

  • Audio broadcast of the poem being read on the The World Today (now Weekend) on the BBC World Service on 12 March 2011: