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January 12, 2004
Sympathy For The Devils

I'm puzzled by this piece in tomorrow's Washington Post that tells the story of former Ba'athists in Iraq and how difficult life has become, now that their privileges have been revoked:

Less than a year ago, Ismael Mohammed Juwara lived high in the food chain of President Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He was a secret policeman feared and respected among his comrades and in his hometown, enjoying a cornucopia of privileges from the government. ... Now, as he scrapes out a living by selling diesel fuel illegally, he is a pariah in the new Iraq. "We were on top of the system. We had dreams," said Juwara, a former member of the Mukhabarat, the intelligence service that reported directly to the now-deposed president. "Now we are the losers. We lost our positions, our status, the security of our families, stability. Curse the Americans. Curse them."

The entire article consists of several long whines from former Saddam loyalists who used to hold positions of power and privilege before Saddam's departure, and who now have become pariahs among their victims. Juwara decries treatment like this:

Besides his economic woes, Juwara expressed deep feelings of humiliation. He told of a trip to the Central Bank in Baghdad on a quest for records of his account in Thuluiya. He said the bank records were looted after the war. "You know what they told me? 'You are from Thuluiya. You are a dog. Go and ask Saddam for the money,' " he recalled. "A few months ago, they would never have treated me like that. They wouldn't dare."

Ah, yes -- they wouldn't dare. Why not? Because Juwara likely would have arrested them on the spot and tortured them for the crime of not respecting him. Williams paints this picture to scold the Coalition for mistreating this poor Gestapo agent secret policeman by not employing him in the new security forces. However, by detailing his former side benefits over four paragraphs, it's clear that Juwara isn't motivated by a love of his fellow Iraqis but by the free land, free construction, superior health care, higher rations, discounted appliances, liberal traveling policies, and the fear he could see in the eyes of those whom he dominated. Would author Daniel Williams want this man to be his local policeman -- a man who tortured people for a living and who still thirsts to dominate them?

Not once does Williams give any context to this story, preferring to equate Juwara to an Everyman instead. Would Williams have written this story from the perspective of a former Gestapo agent after the fall of Berlin in 1945 or 1946, sympathetically telling about all of the lost perks and marks of respect that poor Klaus has to endure, without ever mentioning the fact that the people who treat him like a pariah are the same ones he terrorized on behalf of a genocidal madman? How about talking about former secret policemen in Serbia under Milosevic, or in South Africa under apartheid? If there is a difference between these, it's only because the torture and genocide under these latter two examples were less heinous than in Iraq.

Both Williams and the Post had an obligation to inject a little context into poor Juwara's griping and "bellowing" about his comeuppance. Their failure to do so makes this article tremendously unbalanced and, in its quest for sympathy for sadists and murderers, morally bankrupt.

UPDATE: Welcome to Instapundit readers!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 12, 2004 10:28 PM

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» Missing the Point from The Eleven Day Empire
Via Instapundit, I noticed this posting by Jack Tanner concerning this WashPost story which I missed this morning: In Sunni... [Read More]

Tracked on January 13, 2004 6:50 AM

» THIS JUST IN: Ba'ath secret police not doing well these days from Low Earth Orbit
[source, source, source] THULUIYA, Iraq — Less than a year ago, Ismael Mohammed Juwara lived high in the food chain... [Read More]

Tracked on January 13, 2004 9:30 AM

» boo-hoo from TwilightCafé
Captain Ed has a good piece assessing an article with an interview of a Ba'athist loyalist who is now at the bottom of the food chain in Iraq. I have to agree with the Captain here, isn't Karma a bitch? [Read More]

Tracked on January 13, 2004 9:49 AM

» The Washington Post Didn't Get It from CALIFORNIA YANKEE
Captain Ed, at Captain's Quarters, takes the Washington Post to task, and rightly so, for this Daniel Williams article, which paints former Bathists as sympathetic figures. The article reads like a human interest story. As Ed points out, it fails [Read More]

Tracked on January 13, 2004 7:46 PM

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