If You Can't Trust Chalabi-the-Thief, Whom Can You Trust?

by Ron Unz by Ron Unz

In that classic compendium of American national security strategy “Get Smart,” one of the more amusing episodes concerns the doings of a certain Freddie-the-Forger.  Our shrewd espionage agent from CONTROL was at first reluctant to trust the good gentleman in question, given the latter’s very long list of criminal convictions.  But Agent Smart is finally persuaded of the man’s bona fides when the latter provides numerous extremely persuasive letters of recommendation and moral commendation, signed by such unimpeachable judges of good character as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Pope.

After all, if Freddie-the-Forger has a personal Thank You note signed by the Vicar of Christ himself, how can he really be dishonest?

Similarly, I am shocked – absolutely shocked – that the ultimate source of most of the pre-war Iraq intelligence cited by both our esteemed President Bush and also by those intrepid journalists of the august New York Times, namely our good friend Ahmed Chalabi-the-Thief, is now under strong suspicions of dishonesty.  That the gentleman previously convicted of the largest bank fraud in the history of the modern Middle East – whereby he acquired both tens of millions in ready cash as well the highly descriptive epithet by which he is universally known in that region of the world – would actually be less than scrupulously candid with his American partners is simply too much to accept. 

No, just as his continued defenders – such as Richard Perle and the other neocons – maintain, President Bush has surely lapsed into naïve liberal error by questioning the honesty of Chalabi-the-Thief, that prospective George Washington of his native and benighted land.

Still, the rumors swirling in the aftermath of the American raid on Chalabi-the-Thief’s palatial villa are highly disturbing.  For example, our own Defense Intelligence Agency now claims to possess hard evidence that the target of their probe passed our American military secrets – which he had somehow mysteriously acquired – straight into the hands of his Iranian allies, perhaps causing the deaths of American servicemen as a consequence.  Furthermore, they claim to have proof that Chalabi-the-Thief’s own chief intelligence aide is actually a paid agent of the Iranian Secret Service, and speculate that perhaps our entire Iraq War originated as a plot by Tehran’s hard-line mullahs to finally rid themselves of their arch-enemy, Saddam Hussein.

There are also more mundane charges, namely that the close relatives of Chalabi-the-Thief, who by purest coincidence ended up controlling Iraq’s Finance Ministry, embezzled some tens of millions of American dollars over the last few months; but in this case, the money probably constituted a legitimate, if perhaps somewhat unauthorized, performance bonus, considering the rather meager tens of millions of American dollars we had been officially paying Chalabi-the-Thief and his associates since President Bush’s inauguration.

And if indeed, the Iranian mullahs were the actual architects of our Iraq War, we must not judge them too harshly when we consider the enormous provocation they had endured.  After all, our esteemed President’s justly-famous “Axis of Evil” speech had granted them but a grudging third-place standing among the most Evil enemies of America in the world, surely a terrible humiliation, made absolutely unendurable considering that their hated rival Saddam was placed a full two Levels of Evil higher.  The gnashing of teeth following Friday prayers that week in the Holy City of Qom must have been quite fearsome, surely loud enough to be heard all the way to Baghdad or perhaps even Washington.

Similarly, we must also not automatically condemn all of Chalabi-the-Thief’s American cheer-leaders as irredeemably gullible. If, as I strongly suspect, the secret Swiss bank accounts of Richard Perle and his friends have seen additions of enormously large size over the past few years, they should be commended as the shrewd and highly entrepreneurial small-businessmen they are, true exemplars of exactly that spirit of Democratic Capitalism so lovingly praised in the stirring rhetoric of Jack Kemp.  And in more practical terms, the taxable portion of all those Swiss millions received – whose ultimate source was presumably Iranian oil revenues – might perhaps put a very noticeable dent in our sadly burgeoning national budget deficit.

And once the dust settles, perhaps we should even erect a statue to the crucial historical figure who made all this American success possible, our most loyal friend and ally Chalabi-the-Thief.  After all, just as our esteemed President had so eloquently explained in January’s State-of-the-Union Address: “If I can’t trust my good buddy Chalabi-the-Thief, who can I trust?”