A Nabob Replies

I'm afraid I don't quite understand the criticism voiced in this recent article by Layla Anwar on Uruknet: Enough is Enough. Aside from the very valid point that only Iraqis have the best understanding of what is happening in their country, I find most of her scattershot attack "too cunning to be understood," as the saying goes.

In the piece, she lays into "Papa Chomsky, Hajji Mullah Chossudovsky, the Nabob Chris Floyd, the John le Carre Kurt Nimmo, Lawrence of Arabia P.Cockburn, the Romantic Orientalist Troubadour Robert Fisk, the Misinformed Juanito Cole and the Invisible Man, Investigator, Max Fuller," condemning us all for a multitude of sins. The upshot -- as far as I can tell -- seems to be that we are all supporters of extremist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and have also not been sufficiently appreciative of Saddam Hussein's reign.

I can't speak for any of these other worthies, of course, but I can say that her specific criticism of this "Nabob" seems woefully misinformed. Admittedly, she lumps me in with Juan Cole -- good company to keep -- so it's even more difficult to parse her precise objection to my work. In any case, she writes:

As for the Nabob Chris Floyd and the clueless Juanito Cole, in almost all of their articles, they insist that:

1) Saddam Hussein's regime "oppressed" Shias and favored the Sunnis which is another blatant lie (but very much in line with the Guru's [Chomsky] mantra) and it does not matter how many facts and figures one gives to the Nabob and Co, they have an agenda and wish to pursue it come what may. Arguing that the American occupation is the sole responsible factor for the sectarianism today in Iraq with a fertile terrain laboriously cultivated by the "tyrant" Saddam Hussein.

Needless to say by parroting this long regurgitated propaganda against the "dictatorial regime", and by insisting on what is not true, they are in fact contributing to sectarianism.

Partial truths are cause for sectarianism. Just in case you did not know.

Who knew that I and the estimable Professor Cole were the cause of Iraq's sectarianism? Holy moley, and here I've been calling for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to stand trial for instigating these horrors -- and it was me all along! Well, if that don't beat all, as Daddy Nabob used to say. Reckon I'd better hie me over to The Hague pronto.

In reality, of course, I have written often and at great length about the murderous depradations of the Shiite militias of Sadr, Dawa, SCIRI and others. Nor have I ever subscribed to the patent fiction that it is only "rogue elements" among these militias committing atrocities against the Sunnis. And I have often pointed out the many, many Iraqis who aver that life in their nation is much more hellish today as a result of Bush's hideous war crime than it ever was in Saddam's day.

Elsewhere, Anwar blasts us all for being "cowardly and complicitly silent" about the brutal and deadly sanctions placed on Iraq after the Gulf War, which led to the needless death of more than half a million children, among others. This too is a bogus charge on her part; again, while not presuming to answer for any of the others, I can say that I have also written at length about the genocidal horrors of the sanctions. You could probably find a few words by, say, Noam Chomsky, on that subject as well over the last 15 years or so.

I will admit, however, to a lack of warm feelings for Saddam Hussein and the regime that he foisted on the Iraqi people with the aid of the CIA, and which he maintained with the strong support of the United States, particularly the first President Bush. But I agree that the Shiite extremists empowered by Bush II are quite likely to produce a regime even less palatable, especially for the daily lives of ordinary Iraqis -- which is one reason why they are being forced to flee their homes and often their country in one of the largest population displacements in the last 50 years.

In the end, Anwar links this group of writers -- all of whom have written at length, adamantly, vociferously, relentlessly, against the American invasion of Iraq and the unspeakable suffering it has inflicted on the people of Iraq -- with active warmongers and cheerleaders like Ahmad Chalabi, Kanan Makiya and "the others exiled in Iran working for Tehran." We are all birds of a feather, it seems, "part of the package," as she puts it. This seems to be a strange misconstrual of the political realities, to say the least.

Again, I don't live in Iraq; Anwar does. If I were there, and a native of the land, I too might lash out at anyone even remotely associated with those who have brought such death and destruction to my country. I too might feel that even those in the aggressor's country who speak out against the aggression are still somehow tainted by it, still "part of the package." So it's not my intention to get into a slanging match with Anwar, for whom I have nothing but good wishes for the safety of her and her family, and for an end to the agony that Bush and Blair have brought to her people. However, when my work is publicly misrepresented in such an egregious way, I do think a brief reply is in order to set the record straight.