Monday, March 22, 2004

International: Paul Bremer in... "Escape From Iraq!"

The only American white man with a worse job than mine is Paul Bremer, George W. Bush’s appointee as virtual dictator of Iraq. Bremer’s mission: turn post-Saddam Iraq into a thriving democracy by July 1st, 2004; the day the Americans are scheduled to blow town.
(Scene: Baghdad Hilton. Suite of the leader of the transitional government of Iraq, Paul Bremer.)
(Time: June 30, 2004; the last evening before the final transfer of power from Bremer to the native Iraqi leadership.)
(Music: Bright instrumental version of “California, Here I Come”; rocket and machine gun fire heard faintly from outside; bullet holes in plate glass windows.)
(Bremer is already packing, running around the hotel room--stuffing laundry, souvenirs, and anything else into his carry-on bag, slipping towels marked “Property of the Baghdad Hilton” into his suitcase. In a corner of his hotel room, his trusted Arab manservant Rahim squats, continues to feed documents into a shredder—files, reports, photos, the Baghdad telephone directory, the Gideon Bible, the room service menu, whatever.)

(Music fades as Bremer goes to work in front of the bathroom mirror, winding a turban around his head and rubber-cementing a false black beard to his face so he won’t be recognized on the way to the airport.)
Bremer:(talking to himself) Bring ‘em democracy, they tell me--but do they want democracy? Like hell they do. They just want to kill each other! So let ‘em! I’m outta here! They can kiss my sorry butt goodbye!
Rahim:(shredding documents, speaking to Bremer) The Ayatollah Sistani rejected your latest proposal regarding elections, oh prince of statesmen?
Bremer: Rejected it? It didn’t even get to his desk! Hell, even I can’t get to his desk! I don’t even know if he has a desk! He won’t let me in to see him!
Rahim: I would not take that as a rejection of you personally, great builder of nations. (shreds document: “My Plan For A Democratic Iraq, By Paul Bremer, Diplomatic Genius”)
Bremer: How can I not take that as rejection? (winding his turban) I’m supposed to be running this country, dammit! “The American proconsul of Iraq,” the papers call me! I’m the goddamn Pontius Pilate of Iraq, and I can’t get in to see some bargain-bin ayatollah? That does a lot for my prestige as an international statesman, I bet. Is my beard on straight?
Rahim: The moustache requires some minor adjustments, mighty lord of all Iraqis. (shredding a copy of Penthouse) It is a most difficult situation, blessed bringer of peace and freedom. Ayatollah Sistani controls some 60% of the vote, virtually the entire Shi’ite population.
Bremer: Oh, no kidding! That’s a brilliant insight! Why do you think I held off so long against direct elections? Twenty minutes after the first direct election in this country, that Sistani guy is dictator, this country turns into a Shi’ite theocracy, changes its name to “Iran, Part II” or something, and my résumé becomes toilet paper. Where’s the shoe polish? I’m going to need some skin color or I won’t even make it through the airport giftshop.
Rahim: It’s in your travel bag, Bismarck of Bismarcks. (shreds photo of President Bush)
Bremer: (blacking up with shoe polish) I tell Ayatollah Sistani, “no direct elections,” and he emails back “direct elections, or you-know-what.” So I say, “okay, direct elections, but not this year,” and he says “direct elections, this year, or you-know-what.” So I say, “Okay, direct elections, this year.” The President won’t return my calls anymore, our troops are getting killed every day, the U.N. just laughs at me---I finally had to cave on every single issue, and in front of my own unelected Governing Council, too. Geez, do you have any idea of how embarrassing that is?
Rahim:(shredding document: “Gain An Extra Three Inches—Today!”) One is never appreciated in one’s own lifetime, great font of all statecraft.
Bremer: You got that right, Rahim. Well, Mrs. Bremer’s baby boy Paul isn’t going to wait around here to pose for any “Fall of Saigon” photos. Don’t shred that Tom Clancy paperback, I need something to read on the plane.
Rahim: Your wish is my command, oh sure-fire Nobel Peace Prize winner, this year.
Bremer: What about you, Rahim, you got anything going after I blow this burg?
Rahim: I have a few offers, most compassionate of masters. Or perhaps I shall simply…melt back into the night, my prince. (shreds “Iraqi Constitution, Draft Sixteen, by Paul Bremer, International Statesman”)
Bremer: Yeah, you do that. Boy, I’d like to melt back into a dry martini, right now.
(A rocket slams into the side of the building and the plate glass shatters; they both hit the floor.)
Bremer: (comes up from under the bed with wads of cash in his hands, his turban is smoking after the blast) Jeepers, that was too close! (To Rahim:) Look, if you need any of the old “dough-re-mi,” there’s about two hundred thousand dollars American left over stuffed into the honor bar there.
Rahim: (genuflecting, calls back) Your humble minion is most grateful, munificent benefactor.
Bremer: Hell, it’s not my money. It was supposed to be the down payment for Baghdad’s new George W. Bush Baseball Stadium, but I guess we can kiss that one goodbye now. (grabs suitcase, set of golf clubs, hotel towels under his arm) Well, so long, Rahim, In’shallah, and all that stuff.
Rahim: May Allah the Glorious and the Great bless thee and hold thee in his Almighty hand, til thou art safe in—
Bremer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Listen, what’s Arabic for “Taxi!”--You know, like if you’re hailing a cab?
Rahim: I shall accompany you to the lobby and secure a passage for you, oh wise one.
Bremer: (adjusts his turban) Well, that’s mighty white of you, Rahim. How much should I tip the driver, is fifteen per cent okay?
Rahim: Most generous, mighty architect of peace; a bit more, perhaps, if the driver is forced to evade a heat-seeking missile.

William Prendergast is the author of the crime thriller ‘Forbidden Hollywood’, and he TOLD everybody it was a bad idea for the U.S. to invade Iraq, way before it happened.