Thursday, April 05, 2007

Kanan Makiya: The Iraqi George Formby?

The Iraqi Solzhenitsyn (a.k.a. Kanan Makiya) is peeved. "I want to look into myself, look at myself, delve into the assumptions I had going into the war," Kanan Makiya told the New York Times. But things are not quite as they seem. Makiya has no intention of looking into himself and delving "into the assumptions" he "had going into the war". Makiya must be worried that those comfy Sunday morning sofas, as seen on MSNBC and CNN (although the cavemen at Fox TV have a seat reserved for their favourite House Arab), are not quite as welcoming as they once were.

Ensconced in the Gulag of leafy Cambridge Massachusetts, the Mesopotamian Solzhenitsyn goes on: "Now it seems necessary to reflect on the society that has gotten itself into this mess. A question that looms more and more for me is: Just what did 30 years of dictatorship do to 25 million people?" Translation: Iraqis are to blame. The U.S. behemoth and its brainstormers-cum-armchair-stormtroopers freed the backward lot, but the Iraqis (pronounced Eye-rack-ees) were too tortured, too brutalised to do anything but sink into tribalism and sectarianism.

"It's not like I didn’t think about this," Makiya says, having not thought about this. "But nonetheless I allowed myself as an activist to put it aside in the hope that it could be worked through, or managed, or exorcised in a way that's not as violent as is the case now. That did not work out." This is Makiya as Solzhenitsyn plus vision: he saw it coming. Solzhenitsyn, however, would not have kept lips sealed and tongue inactive in some "hope" that things would work out for the best. No Solzhenitsyn this, but an Iraqi George Formby relating "Turned out nice again".

"There were failures at the level of leadership, and they’re overwhelmingly Iraqi failures. Sectarianism began there," Makiya says of the Iraqi Governing Council, nicely omitting the uncomfortable fact that the Iraqi Governing Council was appointed by the U.S. at a time when Iraqis were advocating full democratic elections - elections the U.S. had hoped to delay indefinitely until Ahmad Chalabi or some Chalabi-like creature could be found to play the puppet.

"Everything they could do wrong, they did wrong," Makiya said, finding just enough blame to stretch to the neoconservative imperialists. "The first and the biggest American error was the idea of going for an occupation," Makiya points out, with straight face and no hint of tongue deeply embedded in cheek. You see, the U.S. never intended to occupy Iraq. It just worked out that way. Unintended consequences and all that. A bit like the British Empire really, don’t you know, old boy!

The NYT informs us of Makiya’s latest sojourns into further and deeper madness: "Last summer, Makiya, who studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proposed a sweeping urban renewal project to Iraqi officials on a trip to Baghdad. The idea was to create, in the heart of the city, a pedestrians-only green space." The genius of it! If one was to build a "pedestrians-only green space", car bombs would become, overnight, automatically redundant. Perhaps Makiya Associates, previously builders of Baath Party HQ and the Ceremonial Parade Grounds in Tikrit, would like the contract?

"You're talking about a massive rethinking of the city," Makiya said, waving his hand across a satellite map of Baghdad hanging on one wall. "Someone has to keep dreaming," the mad Iraqi George Formby ranted.

The NYT reports the fantastic adventures of the Iraqi Solzhenitsyn, sans banjo: "Makiya had travelled to Baghdad intending to make his pitch to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. But he met with lower-level officials instead." Makiya himself says: "There was terrible stuff going on in Baghdad, and one did not feel right making a full presentation" of a "pedestrians-only green space" in the heart of a city beset with sectarian cleansing, with blood soaking the streets, and civil war threatening to engulf the region. The Iraqi Solzhenitsyn had to travel to Baghdad to realise this.

"People shouldn’t feel the need to apologize. What is there to apologize for?" said the Iraqi Solzhenitsyn-cum-Formby. The NYT reporter packed his spiral-pad and left. The Iraqi George Formby stared into his glass of red wine, no banjo in sight. No one associated with mental health in Massachusetts arrived with a straitjacket.


AN said...

On the subject of mad dreaming, note this:

"The secretariat of Baghdad announced that it included Baghdad Metro project within its plan for 2007; one billion dinars have been allocated to do the detailed surveys and designs only, which have a total cost of about $ 10 million. The secretariat will start the implementation of the first phase of the project, "32 km" at the end of the current year. "

Building a metro system in Baghdad, and starting this year! What could possible go wrong?

neprimerimye said...

Makiya was, in an earlier incarnation, a 'Trotskyist'. Or at least a member of the SWP(US) which passed as a Trotskyist group for many a long dull year.

Tawfiq Chahboune said...

Stop the presses. A friend of mine tells me that George Formby played the ukulele, not the banjo.

Makiya never fails to disappoint. The man is a clown. "Pedestrian-only green space" indeed!!!

The metro system is not quite in the same league as Makiya's fantastic "green space" (not to be confused with the green zone!) but I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up like all the other major works for Baghdad and Iraq: the money will probably find its way into the bank account of some Western multinational. The work will not have been done, like it hasn't on water, electricity or everything else, yet the multinationals get paid staggering amounts. Or the money will just "disappear", as so many billions have miraculously done so thus far.