“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, November 20, 2003


In the NYT today, there is a story with the news that � gosh! � a democratic Iraq will probably reflect the fact that the Shi�ites hold a 60% majority in the country. I guess D.C.�s best and brightest got out the encyclopedia. While such coming to grips with reality, while belated, is welcome, the inevitable response of the ideologues in the Pentagon is to weave this into their favorite bed-time story: the one in which Chalabi, friend of Douglas Feith and staunch advocate of making Iraq into a little Chili, is elected, or somewhat elected, prime minister, or something like prime minister, in Iraq. The persistence of this fantasy is one of the wonders of the world, at the moment. In the Daily Telegraph, there is an article by David Frum, who is going to be covering Bush�s visit (one wonders why they didn�t just chose Laura Bush) who regales his readers with a comic litany about the influence of Blair on Bush. Frum has a double purpose: to claim that Blair is no poodle, and to exonerate Bush by blaming the Brits for every bit of the current bungle in Iraq. It is funny to see the two imperatives struggle with each other. But of course, Chalabi figures in this cartoon epic as, once again, Iraq�s Churchill (not DeGaulle � no French, please):

�The second reason for the misperception of Britain's place in the alliance is that the bad consequences of the policies advocated by the Blair Government have convinced many British leaders that the less said about them, the better. There was only ever one possible provisional government for Iraq: the Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi. Important sections of the US government - the State Department, the CIA - disliked Dr Chalabi for petty bureaucratic reasons of their own. The yearning of the British Government for an Iraqi Mubarak or Musharraf - a Western-oriented strongman backed by military power - lent extra force to the anti-INC faction. But because there was no plausible alternative to the INC, British advice helped bring the coalition to a point where six months after the fall of the dictator, Iraqis perceive themselves to be ruled without their consent by an English-speaking proconsul.�

There you go. Ahmed, with his black shirted militia, was about to be crowned by adoring Baghdadi crowds (who were all set to pull him, with maximum ardor and enthusiasm, out of Uday�s mansion, which he�d taken over in Baghdad), when the Brits, those wily anti-democratic foxes, persuaded Bush to avert this divinely appointed consummation.

This kind of fantasizing is what should be hit, and hit again, by the opposition. People on the right are always asking where the signs are condemning Saddam Hussein. Uh, well guys, if you want to make some signs and join the demonstrators, go right ahead. But LI wonders why the protestors aren�t taking up the occupation challenge � why they aren�t demonstrating for Democracy, now in Iraq. That means � don�t use this time as an excuse to impose insupportable economic policies on Iraq. Nor to impose exiles who, as we can pretty much guess by this time, have no constituencies in the country.

LI�s guess is that there must be a plan circulating around in the swamps of the Pentagon outlining how they could run Chalabi the way we ran the Christian Democrats in Italy in 49. To counter the threat of the Commies, secret money flowed into the campaign of 49, and a lot of deals were brokered, including, notoriously, deals with the mafia. Italy has suffered from that post-war effort ever since.

LI recommends the Sunday Times (London) article on Baghdad by Simon Jenkins. Jenkins makes the common sense point that opposing the war doesn�t mean supporting an immediate pull out of the troops. It does mean getting serious about monitoring the American occupation there. Here are a few grafs:

�Baghdad's greatest scenic asset must be Saddam's Republican Palace, now headquarters of the Coalition boss, Paul Bremer. Its sprawling site some three miles round lies in the heart of town, like Beijing's Forbidden City or the Bourbons' Louvre. Villas sit amid lawns, canals and eucalyptus groves. In the palace itself the great ballroom is now offices and the astonishing throne room with its "Scud murals" has become a chapel. The whole enclave should have been donated to the people of Baghdad when Saddam fell. Instead the Americans are laying down concrete car parks, chopping down trees and building a perimeter "Baghdad Wall". It is sad.�

And this is the end of his report, about the prisons in Iraq:

�Inside the prison is supposedly the son of a college lecturer, Omar Hamodi. He was last seen in June at a Baghdad wedding where guests fired into the air in traditional salute. A passing, jumpy American patrol seized the first three boys it could catch. One was Omar, despite another boy admitting to the soldiers that he alone had fired the shots.

Omar's parents later heard that he was in a prison far to the south in the port of Um Qasr. He was then transferred as prisoner No 116417 to Abu Ghraib, where he has been for three months.

� Omar's parents are educated Iraqis and no supporters of Saddam Hussein. They are simply appalled that an occupier proclaiming "freedom and democracy" should treat an innocent boy in this way. �

Abu Ghraib is becoming Iraq's Guantanamo Bay. I only hope that someone hunkered down in the Republican Palace might read this, and return prisoner No 116417 to his mother.�

No comments: