TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is a remarkable piece of reporting, focused on
America's treatment of its own mid-level Iraqi collaborators, which has
been published in the NEW YORKER.
This is a long (11 pages of small print) and relatively painful read. It
is not for everyone, but I strongly recommend it.
In my article entitled "An Elegant Exit from Iraq", published in 2004, I
included the following item in my optimum scenario: "More quietly,
asylum in the United States is offered to all members of the
American-appointed Governing Council and interim government and all
other prominent Iraqis who have cooperated with the Americans and are,
therefore, viewed as collaborators by their fellow Iraqis. This is the
decent and honorable thing to do." I note that I limited the hope of
decent and honorable treatment to "prominent" Iraqis. Either I wasn't
myself concerned about the sort of people who are the subject of this
article (in which case, /mea culpa/) or I did not see any hope that the
U.S. government would be concerned about them.
Collaboration with foreign invaders and occupiers has always been an
ultra-high-risk choice. (Tens of thousands of French men and women who
cooperated with the Germans received terminal "summary justice" at the
hands of their compatriots at the end of World War II.) However, having
read this article, I believe that these mid-level collaborators are far
more deserving of decent and honorable treatment from the United States
than prominent "name" collaborators, who have no doubt been banking much
of what they have been stealing in foreign bank accounts to assure
themselves of a comfortable retirement whenever it's "game over", their
compatriots can get at them and they have to leave.http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/26/070326fa_fact_packer
/New Yorke/r, 26 March 2007
The Iraqis who trusted America the most.
by George Packer
On a cold, wet night in January, I met two young Iraqi men in the lobby
of the Palestine Hotel, in central Baghdad. A few Arabic television
studios had rooms on the upper floors of the building, but the hotel was
otherwise vacant. In the lobby, a bucket collected drips of rainwater;
at the gift shop, which was closed, a shelf displayed film, batteries,
and sheathed daggers covered in dust. A sign from another era read, "We
have great pleasure in announcing the opening of the Internet café 24
hour a day. At the business center on the first floor. The management."
The management consisted of a desk clerk and a few men in black leather
jackets slouched in armchairs and holding two-way radios.
The two Iraqis, Othman and Laith, had asked to meet me at the Palestine
because it was the only place left in Baghdad where they were willing to
be seen with an American. They lived in violent neighborhoods that were
surrounded by militia checkpoints. Entering and leaving the Green Zone,
the fortified heart of the American presence, had become too risky. But
even the Palestine made them nervous. In October, 2005, a suicide bomber
driving a cement mixer had triggered an explosion that nearly brought
down the hotel's eighteen-story tower. An American tank unit that was
guarding the hotel eventually pulled out, leaving security in the hands
of Iraqi civilians. It would now be relatively easy for insurgents to
get inside. The one comforting thought for Othman and Laith was that,
four years into the war, the Palestine was no longer worth attacking.