‘Salam Pax’ Plays Americans for Fools
David Warren comes out and says something that’s been my privately held belief for quite some time: ‘Salam Pax’ plays Americans for fools in Iraq.
What we can know, just by reading his blog, is that this Salam is up to no good. He is spreading “inside views” of the new Iraq, not only to the blogosphere, but directly among the journalists still encamped at the Meridian (formerly Palestine, formerly Meridian) hotel. Not the “embeds” who’ve gone home after remarkable learning experiences, but those “hacks” not yet transferred to the next breaking news story, and so still kicking around this mysterious city of Baghdad, trying to figure out what’s happening without exposing themselves overmuch to danger.
And they lap it up. They depend on translators and guides to show them around, and seem only partially aware that the people who’ve come forward to provide them with these services are almost all unemployed former Baath regime officials. (They trust them because they speak English so well.)
Hence our media fixation on a series of stories — starting with the entirely false account that was given of the looting of the Iraqi National Museum — that show the American occupation in the worst possible light, and blame each lapse in public order on American oversight, instead of on the perpetrators.
“Salam Pax” is the creme de la creme. He drops brilliantly casual asides. For instance, one of his insightful tips to the Western journalists was that “ordinary” Iraqis despise all these exiles who have parachuted in with the U.S. military, and who have “appropriated” such private property as the old Mansour Social Club, and Iraqi Hunting Club — which were Baathist social preserves (clubs in which Salam would likely have had memberships). He falsely suggests that these properties were obtained through “looting.” (They were assigned to the exiles by the U.S. military.)
My opinion is that “Salam Pax” is not only “up to no good,” he is (or was) very probably a member of—or working directly for—the Mukhabarat (Iraqi intelligence). It strains credibility to the breaking point to believe that someone could be blogging from Baghdad without Iraqi intelligence being aware of every word he wrote.
UPDATE: Mystery novelist Roger Simon agrees.