It's under Bush's bed!

 The GuardianComment by Paulo Coelho, Wednesday February 26, 2003

Bearing in mind that the president of the most powerful nation in the world is responsible for his actions and knows what he is talking about, I - a Brazilian writer, with no access to the secret services, the UN inspection procedure or confidential files, but able to read newspapers with a degree of intelligence - have come up with the definitive answer on how to locate the weapons of mass destruction being hidden by Iraq. I will require payment for this information, by the way.

This is how to locate the weapons, step-by-step:

1. All UN weapons inspectors currently in Iraq should pack their bags, settle their hotel bills and drive to Baghdad airport.

2. There they should buy business class air tickets to Washington. I stress business class so that they have time to rest, as the journey will involve a number of stopovers.

3. On reaching Washington, they should catch the first bus to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. The address can be found in the telephone directory for Virginia.

4. On reaching CIA headquarters, and armed with the appropriate UN inspection mandate, they should demand to see all photos, information and documents being supplied to Mr George Bush. These are the documents pinpointing the precise location of each arms cache that allow Mr Bush to assure us that Iraq has an arsenal capable of destroying the planet.

5. Once in possession of these documents, they should return to Iraq (again they should fly business class in order to arrive feeling rested) and go immediately to the places indicated in the photographs. Unable to deny the evidence, Saddam Hussein will have no option but to destroy his arsenal, for fear that the whole world will turn against him.

6. If the CIA does not have the documents, the inspectors should go straight to Mr George Bush's bedroom in the White House, Washington. On the way, they should avoid all contact with the thousands of American demonstrators taking part in protests against the war in Iraq.

7. If Mr George Bush fails to cooperate with the UN inspectors, they should look for the evidence under his bed. If they do not find it there, they should go and see the president's psychoanalyst, having first equipped themselves with a mandate from the UN security council, and ask the following question: "Does a son necessarily have to complete his father's work?" If the answer is yes, please advise me at once: my father was a civil engineer and, when he retired, he may well have left unfinished projects for his heir to deal with.

If the answer is no, demand that the psychoanalyst - on behalf of the UN, the US and the rest of the world - prescribe the necessary medication to his patient so that he no longer constitutes a threat to his country and to his planet.

This is the required method of payment:

Once this infallible line of action has been followed, I ask that the billions of dollars that would have been spent on the war be divided up in the following manner:

1. 50% to help the poor in Brazil, since the president of Brazil is currently grappling with a huge budget deficit, and because the author of this practical guide is himself Brazilian.

2. 40% to go to Africa.

3. 9% to old Europe, which wavered but did not fall - at least not up until now, the day on which I am writing this article.

4. 1% to pay for a nice biography of Tony Blair, to be translated into 40 languages, in hard cover, with colour photographs, saying what a great leader he is, how intelligent, important, charismatic, handsome and charming. That should be enough to keep him content, in the knowledge that his remarkable qualities have been recognised.

Finally, it is important to add the following: when speaking about the war, please do not generalise and say: "Americans all want to attack Iraq." We have made the same mistake before, in saying that "Serbs are all butchers", "Brazilians are all lazy", or "Iranians are all fundamentalists".

The people who want to attack Iraq are the politicians surrounding George Bush, the Enron orphans. The American people are fully aware of what is going on, and just as they managed to stop the war in Vietnam, they may, when no convincing explanations are forthcoming, manage to persuade Mr Bush's psychoanalyst to prescribe a sedative and put an end to this nightmare.

This article is a contribution to the openDemocracy debate on the Iraqi crisis published on

Paulo Coelho is a bestselling novelist