The desert in Kuwait seemed such a wasteland. Goose farms near the Iraqi border yielded huge quantities of s--t, which gathered along the sides of the roads and in the yard of the house where we were squatting. When the sandstorms blew, so did the s--t, smearing the world with its stench. That patch of desert already felt abandoned to the war. There was no question that it would slide in of its own weight; it was just a question of when. The border—the constant pounding of tanks, the hovering helicopters, and the military police patrolling—was a trembling faultline.