Freedom is a Big Mac and a Coke

I MADE a rule for myself this week: Don't mention the war.So I won't – except to pass on a remark from one Sergeant Sprague, of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

I MADE a rule for myself this week: Don't mention the war.

So I won't – except to pass on a remark from one Sergeant Sprague, of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Sgt Sprague has been on a scenic tour of biblical lands. His travels this week have taken him to Ur, an ancient city at least 8,000 years old and one of the first places mentioned in the book of Genesis.

Ur was the birthplace of Abraham, probably the greatest patriarch in history, the ultimate father of both Islam and Christianity.

Today it is little more than a village, and it didn't impress Sgt Sprague.

Surveying this cradle of civilisation, he opined: "I've been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant.

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"These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of 25 hundred people you got a McDonald's at one end and a Hardee's at the other."

I don't suppose Sgt Sprague has ever seen one of my all-time favourite movies – The Coca-Cola Kid, a quirky, brilliant Australian film from 1985.

In it Eric Roberts (before his little sister Julia got famous) delivers the unforgettable line: "The world will never be truly free until Coca-Cola is available everywhere."

I expect Sgt Sprague would agree with that sentiment.

I don't suppose for one moment he would realise it was meant ironically.


CELINE Dion also made a stop in the desert this week.

The silver-tonsilled one opened her latest singing tour by telling an audience of 4,000-odd in Las Vegas: "Tonight is the big day".

No doubt her legion of fans in Baghdad will be glad to know that. And ready, no doubt, to correct her on her bizarre grasp of English.

They would have enjoyed, too, Dion's grasp of world realities.

"With everything's that going on in the world," she said, "let's just try tonight to focus on peace. Let's try to enjoy ourselves tonight."

OK, Celine, let's.

It was certainly a big occasion for Dion – the start of a three-year, 200-shows-a-year tour that will give new meaning to the phrase "middle of the road". And net her a guaranteed £65million, plus 50 per cent of the profits.

(I wonder how long you could keep the people of Ur in Big Macs for £65m? Or how many bombs you could drop on them?)

If she can keep it up, she will warble her way through 1,000 hours of live performance of songs like Fever, Think Twice, and I've Got The World On A String.

The US might deny it, but obviously the Canadians are happy to torture people if there's enough money in it.


PICTURES of desert sunsets, pictures of aircraft, pictures of people in exotic places – war can be oddly beautiful. But not always.

I saw some photographs today that I would really rather not have seen. They made me feel ill.

If you are one of those people who still think Messrs Bush and Blair are waging a "clean" war – or if you think there can ever be such a thing – then you should take a look too.

Be warned, however, before you visit website – the images you will find there are not for the young, the squeamish or the easily upset.

They are not the kind of images you will find in this or any other newspaper.

Don't look if you're about to have your tea. Unless your name is Anthony CL Blair, in which case it should be mandatory.

I'm sorry – I said I wouldn't mention the war, didn't I? But somehow you just can't avoid it.

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