Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Imagine you’re the former prime minister of a not so stable oil republic. You hope to regain power by promising stability by cracking down on insurgents, fostering dialogue between parties of differing persuasion and so on. Say the opportunity to embalm your tough talk presents itself but at a time and in a manner so unanticipated that it finds you ill-equipped: you are to address a congregation of one faction but before a single word is uttered, the crowd, armed with knives and guns, becomes rowdy. At the crucial moment your courage fails and in your dismay, you take flight and are caught on camera in the act. How would you recover from such ignominy? Would you
A. Reassure yourself that Life is indeed frightening, only psychopaths aren’t afraid, and that taking flight is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. All who criticise you are therefore psychopaths or cowards whose cowardice hasn’t been publicly tested.
B. Rely on the short memories of the public, and remember that one can survive everything, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation. A reputation for cowardice is really much better than one for, say, kindness.
C. Create a positive spin. Aver that because of your fear you’re better able to identify with your people and understand their concerns.
D. Assert fear of assassination as extenuation for your action.

Any of the above will do; there’s something to be said for the each option. Application, however calls for discretion. Citing option D might not be so credible under our hypothetical circumstances. People may ask questions like, eh, if assassination was the intent was it to be achieved by some new technique that involves the use of noise to trigger spontaneous combustion of the target; the crowd was after all armed, did they deem noise to be a more effective weapon than guns? That my peoples is a question that only one man in the world is equipped to answer; Mr Iyad Allawi.
If Mr. Allawi recovers from this minor set back - and I think he will if the Americans so wish it `a la Chalabi - he may find a quandary more confounding than a raucous crowd; Mr. Saddam Hussein. The deposed dictator has metamorphosized into an advocate of democracy. Yesterday during one of his many days in court - a court whose legitimacy is yet to be established, and is therefore, in the meantime, merely a stage for rehearsal - the former dictator loudly denounced the occupation and proclaimed his support for democracy blah, blah, blah; which is all well and good except for the possibility that by democracy, Mr. Hussein means totality.


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