Monday, May 24, 2004

Ledeen, ledeen and us

If I weren’t so depressed, I would’ve laughed myself to tears, sobs and even perhaps then lamentations. Honestly, nothing in a rational universe could possibly help explain the predicaments: the plenipotentiary satraps of a vengeful Allah as rulers; the jihadis and the crude country bumpkin sadists on the loose all around. So now we even have to tolerate new saviors on who knows what mission from where! There is simply no end to our woes.

As if one Ledeen and his ventures weren’t enough for a few generations to come, now we hear his daughter has been unleashed on the unfortunate Iraqis. What have we done to deserve them? Now really, is there a God with any sense of justice anywhere? Is the Almighty malicious or, as Woody Allen would have, just an underachiever? Or has He never awakened from the long slumber of the decades past?

Take this infuriating Washington Post article (link via about a bunch of young, ambitious hands working for the CPA in Iraq:

They had been hired to perform a low-level task: collecting and organizing statistics, surveys and wish lists from the Iraqi ministries for a report that would be presented to potential donors at the end of the month. But as suicide bombs and rocket attacks became almost daily occurrences, more and more senior staffers defected. In short order, six of the new young hires found themselves managing the country's $13 billion budget, making decisions affecting millions of Iraqis.

All the shattered bones, dismembered bodies, incinerated flesh, tortured souls and ruined lives and this? A handful of interning weasels gaining experience managing 13 billion? And how did they land the jobs? How did they navigate the arduous interview process and the crippling backlog of the tens and tens of thousands waiting for their security clearances?

Ledeen's journey to Baghdad began two weeks earlier when she received an e-mail out of the blue from the Pentagon's White House liaison office.[…]
For Ledeen, the offer seemed like fate. One of her family friends had been killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it had affected her family deeply. Without hesitation, she responded "Sure" to the e-mail and waited -- for an interview, a background check or some other follow-up. Apparently none was necessary. A week later, she got a second e-mail telling her to look for a packet in the mail regarding her move to Baghdad.

Some fate! We know a thing or two about fate when it comes to jobs, business and politics in this Islamic State. There is a name here for the act of circumnavigating established, documented processes. It happens all the time. What do they call it nowadays in the Bush country? Business as usual?

No matter though, let’s look at the compensation:

The pay turned out to be good. Ledeen and her co-workers had agreed to come to Iraq without knowing their salaries. They ended up with standard government base salaries in the range of $30,000 to $75,000 a year, plus a 25 percent foreign differential, another 25 percent for a workplace "in imminent danger," and overtime pay. In the end, almost everyone was making the equivalent of six-figure salaries.

How many courageous members of this organization trying to create civil society against a background of violence and terror could have made a go of it on a Ledeen salary?

Don’t get me wrong now. I am all for on the job trainings. I don’t believe in the cult of expertise. But seriously, shouldn’t the family team so intent on saving all of us be able to at least speak some Arabic or Persian? Especially when formulating or promoting tendentious policies affecting millions? Aren’t they in the least bit curious? For goodness sake, even Jane Goodall managed to communicate with the creatures she intended to save in a language other than English.

Undoubtedly, Ms. Ledeen is talented and adroit. And we know Mr. Ledeen is one sharp, savvy thinker and a shrewd political operator. But can any claim a new century or two on characters of this caliber? Think about it: are they even a pale shadow of a Sir William Jones, for instance?

It must be a sign of times we live in. Even bigotry isn’t what it used to be. Compare the silly, mean-spirited taraddidle of a Daniel Pipes, for instance, with any thing a Comte de Gobineau has to say.

Hasn’t anyone seriously considered that nothing good can ever come of assuming the burden of civilizing us--the uncouth denizens of this accursed region, if everything is planned and executed by a ragtag group of dwarfs, weasels and sadists? Mongols tried it, you know, fear, intimidation, brutality—with a mastery which they too claimed was sanctioned by Heaven, and yes there were even body pyramids then too!

Now give us a few like Sir William Jones or de Gobineau and I for one will indulge a new Mistress till eternity.

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