I can not let go the opportunity to complain. So I'll let you know it'll be another three weeks or so before blogorrhoea moans into life again and then gratuitously aver I'm thoroughly tired of ghastly tales of imperial intrigue, client despots, mass killings, death squads, sanctioned prison torture programmes, and generalised human rights violations
So I'm not
going to say a word
about what went on
during Negroponte's tenure as ambassador to the military dictatorship of Honduras
. Suffice to say he'll come across little that's new to him as he looks about his new satrapy
He may even recognise qualities comfortingly familiar in his new comprador, Allawi. I'm sure Lakhdar Brahimi didn't really expect to be allowed to choose Iraq's interim Prime Minister (and thus, the man best positioned to prepare the ground for the election Iraq will have if he decides it's to have it). We do know Allawi would hardly have been his first choice. He was, however, the first choice of the US State Department, the CIA and Paul Bremer, and it was Brahimi's inevitable lot stoically to shrug and obediantly to sign
. After all, Allawi's secular pan-Arabism (the ideological constituents of his erstwhile party, the Ba'athists) would at least allow for the possibility of support from a good number of secular Sunnis (he was a Ba'athist) and Shi'ites (he's a Shi-ite) alike.
But you don't keep such a job on the support of Ba'athists and their US allies (yep, the times, they have achanged … ) alone. You gotta be tough, too. Thankfully, Allawi is tough. How tough? Well, according to Seymour Hersh, this tough
: "He was one of Saddam's closest allies, I'd say from '68 to the middle '70s. He was a big supporter of Saddam. Saddam was, you know, killing his the way through the [left wing of the (ed)] Ba'ath Party to get control. The vice president then -- all during the '70s he was seizing control, but he finally got it officially in '79. And for five or six or seven years, Allawi was his guy, one of his people in Europe. And what they [Allawi's Mukhabarat militia (ed)] would do is they would basically, the only other word for it is murder, the opposition anywhere in Europe. And he was certainly involved with those people. He was a thug. I've talked to people who have read his internal CIA file. On the other hand, he also became later a very big asset … People in our CIA who work with him say he's really quite competent. He's a good guy now. The past is passed. I was urged by somebody, "It isn't worth it. Don't go after him." … What's important is that it's totally, completely clear that he was involved with what the Russians call wet-ops, blood. And he was involved in a lot of very bloody things. And I quote a former CIA official using that word."
Apropos of which ideal recipe for sovereignty and democracy, I'm put in mind of a letter to the editor of the April 16 Guardian, in which Roger Evans of Swansea wondered aloud why this period of artificial sovereignty was so important
"Because the future of US corporations is at stake. They have paid out billions, and this is payback time. Their contracts (for oil production, public utilities, telecommunications) can be signed only by a "sovereign" government. That is an iron rule of international contract law. Without "sovereign" signatures, contracts would not be bankable. And it is clear that no democratically elected government could sign them, given prevailing Iraqi attitudes. That is the real reason why Bush must have a period of puppet government before elections - and my guess, as a barrister, is that the contracts will be signed in its first 14 days."
Which makes more sense of an unscheduled and purely formal (160 000 coalition soldiers and US$19 billions-worth of reconstruction funds remain entirely under US control) handing-over ceremony - under a veil of secrecy and behind a maze of blast walls, machine-gun nests, tanks and infantry - than otherwise I have been able to make.
I dare say it may not altogether shock historically minded Iraqis, as it does sound a lot like the sort of thing the Poms had in mind when they put Feisal on Iraq's throne back in '21.
On that occasion, a decade of revolts, a couple of years of military dictatorship, a couple of decades of revolutionary pan-Arabism, and a succession of military coups duly ensued.
But that was then, eh?