Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Baghdad Bob as Prophet?

As I've mulled over the events of the past months in Iraq--specifically, how the war is being fought--something about them has dredged up for me memories of the nearly-forgotten "Baghdad Bob," Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, whose 15 minutes came during his position as Iraqi Minister of Information during the Shock and Awe days of 2003. Once upon a time, it was easy and even fun to laugh at his epithets for the Coalition of the Willing and claims about Iraqi victories on the battlefield: so blatant was his spin on events during that time that, even though he was an official representative of the government, he appeared to be a spoof of such officials.

Sure: as one rummages through the Treasury of Deathless Quotes, one can still run across the occasional absurdity that, even after all this time, might make us smile. But some, below the fold, make me wonder whether we should have been listening more than laughing. And, just so you know: I left out some that could easily have fit here as well.

"Now even the American command is under siege. We are hitting it from the north, east, south and west. We chase them here and they chase us there. But at the end we are the people who are laying siege to them. And it is not them who are besieging us."

"We are in control. They are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards."

"The British forces which were dropped there have been eliminated mostly on the (battle)field, except for those who fled ... It is a complete defeat ... Amazingly the Americans have pushed the British to do that. They pushed them ahead as if it is an experiment. The result was very tragic for the British."

“We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead.”

"Washington has thrown their soldiers on the fire."

"Their failure in this regard is abysmal. They want to tell the world changes thought - as a matter of fact, they do not respect the world, they want to tell taxpayers and the domestic public to keep them deceived. We will embroil them, confuse them and keep them in the quagmire. They have begun to tell more lies so that they might continue with the perpetration of their crimes. May they be accursed."

"That bastard the American Minister of Defense Rumsfeld, and I won't say shamelessly, because they don't know what shame means. These are criminals. The whole word can hear the warning sirens. This criminal sitting in the White House is a pathetic criminal and his Defense Minister deserves to be beaten. These criminals lie to the world because they are criminals by nature and conditioning. They consider this a military site! Shame on you! You will forever be shamed! You have ruined the reputation of the American people in the most terrible way! Shame on you! And we will destroy you!"

"Faltering forces of infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them! They are the ones who will find themselves under siege. Therefore, in reality whatever this miserable Rumsfeld has been saying, he was talking about his own forces. Now even the American command is under siege."

"We will pursue them as war criminals. We will work with all the free people in the world, and they are many, who want someone to bell the cat [i.e.; to do a daring deed], and now we are belling the cat, according to the famous [Arabic] saying so as to rid the UN of those villains. After Iraq aborts the invasion that is being carried out by the American and British villains, the USA will no longer be a superpower. Its deterioration will be rapid. I say to those villains who are meeting in Europe, thinking of launching psychological war and brainwashing: wait. Do not be hasty because your disappointment will be huge. You will reap nothing from this aggressive war, which you launched on Iraq, except for disgrace and defeat. Iraq will continue to exist. Its civilization is 10,000 years old. It will not be changed by villains like the US and British villains."

"I can assure you that those villains will recognize, will discover in appropriate time in the future how stupid they are and how they are pretending things which have never taken place."

"We're going to drag the drunken junkie nose of Bush through Iraq's desert, him and his follower dog Blair...There are 26 million Saddams in Iraq."

"Yesterday we heard this villain called Rumsfeld. He, of course, is a war criminal, and he is one of the worst of the American rulers. He said the American mercenaries and the British mercenaries, they are defending themselves inside Iraq. They are in a defensive position. They are engaged in self-defense. They are fighting a self-defense war inside Iraq. Well, congratulations, Mr. Villain, you are defending yourself inside our country. We will show you what defense means."

"Bush is a very stupid man. The American people are not stupid, they are very clever. I can't understand how such clever people came to elect such a stupid president."

"We have shot down 2 Apache helicopters. Have the Americans said yet that they were shot down by their - what do they call it - friendly fire? No? Well... [dramatic pause, then smiles] ...not yet!"

"Those are mercenaries. Most probably they will be treated as mercenaries, hirelings and as war criminals. ... For sure, international law does not apply to those." [Ed.: Curious how this last statement has become an argument the Bush administration has used to justify holding prisoners without charge at Guantanamo.]

Bush "knows that he is standing in quicksand when it comes to his baseless talk on Iraq."

"They want to deceive their people first because now they are in a very shabby situation."
As this war and the (legal) prosecution of the General War on Terror have served to show, Irony is not dead after all. This of course would all be a bit easier, if not pleasurable, to be reminded of if these lessons were directed, every once in a while, toward someone other than us.

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Camille said...

I laughed, I cried.

Raminagrobis said...

The Grauniad hack Marina Hyde (who usually writes crap about celebrities and the like) has an article in today's paper on this very subject: Tony Blair makes Comical Ali seem the voice of reason. I like the way she pretends to have made this connection herself, as if she just happened to remember him this week. Seems like the Guardian journos aren't above swiping ideas for articles from blogs (surprise, surprise!) - and that good ol' blog meridian is a must-read in the Guardian offices...

John B. said...

Grobie, 'tis indeed curious, isn't it? If some poaching has been going on hereabouts, though, I'm not too upset about it, seeing as it's hard to claim originality by just linking to some quotes and saying, "Hmm . . ." Given the present state of things in Iraq, lots of people, I'm sure, have been looking back and wondering about those early days.

That said, you seem more familiar with Marina Hyde's usual beat than I am, so perhaps I'm being too generous regarding her particular level of introspection.