Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chalabi down but not out; NYT airbrushes his bio for him

It is peculiar. Both AP and Al-Quds al-Arabi say the famous Ahmed Chalabi still heads the National De-Baathification Commission, but Dexter Filkins in the NYT Magazine cover story on Chalabi says flatly he doesn't hold any positions, and in fact Filkins doesn't mention De-Baathification at all. De-Baathification was an American policy, executed with a vengeance (to say the least; Chalabi's lawyers deny allegations his methods included blackmail) by Chalabi, resulting according to some reports in the dismissal of 35,000 senior people in government and quasi-government positions, including universities and so on. This makes it doubly peculiar that Filkins doesn't mention it. And to top it off, Filkins would have had a great human-interest angle had he pursued this, because Chalabi is in fact making plans to head a new political party his friends are describing as "liberal in nature and orientations", and these friends have told him that in all conscience, if he is to head one political party, he should not at the same time be head of a government agency whose mission is to dismantle another political party, so he should resign as head of the De-Baathification Council. AlQuds also note he might as well quit because things are not going so well. The Commission's work is described as paralyzed because Ministries and other government agencies refuse to carry out its orders.

Hard to see why Filkins would have left all this interesting stuff out? Consider: De-Baathfication doesn't fit his story-line, which is that the fault for what happened in Iraq lies not with the Americans or American policy, but with Iraqi society itself.

Notice how Filkins slips these little interpretive items into the text. He says Chalabi's electoral failures reflected the decline of the secular parties, leaving the field to "the clerics and the populists". Can you feel the vast respect for Iraqi society and Iraqis generally? And in case you missed the point, Filkins floats this one past you: Voting patterns in the January 2006 election, he writes, showed that "democratic politics no longer mattered."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democratic politics = doing Washington's bidding

Chalabi's party didn't even get a single seat despite having all kinds of campaign commercials on al-arabyya and posters everywhere, something I found most hilarious and a true sign that democracy has hope in Iraq. Blaming it on some anti-secular stance of the Iraqi public is pathetic especially since Iyad Allawi and his secular party has 25 seats in the current parliament despite him being an obvious and proven coalition stooge. The secularish Iraqi National Dialogue Front got a further 11 seats. Chalabi only had any power in the January 2005 parliament because he was able to hitch his tiny wagon to the UIA juggernaut.

I still don't understand why Chalabi hasn't been put before someone's(anyone's!) firing squad yet. Can't the CIA render him back to Jordan so that they can torture someone who deserves it for once?

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find incredible in the article is that Perle and others are still depicted as on his side, and defending him, even after Chalabi purports to have broken ties with them!

11:03 PM  

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