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November 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE JAY GATSBY OF IRAQ....Alan Weisman writes in the LA Times today about Richard Perle and Ahmed Chalabi:

Perle, of course, was the most prominent and aggressive advocate of Chalabi, dubbed the "Jay Gatsby of Iraq" for his social life and financial scandals, as the leader of a new Iraq.

"The Jay Gatsby of Iraq" fits Chalabi nicely, though, unfortunately, it's a little bit of stretch to say that Chalabi has been "dubbed" this. As near as I can tell, George Packer quoted Noah Feldman calling Chalabi the ''Jay Gatsby of the Iraq War" in The Assassins' Gate, H.D.S. Greenway repeated it in a late 2005 piece for the Boston Globe, and Weisman is the first one to mention it since. I guess maybe now I'm the fourth. But it deserves wider exposure, no?

Kevin Drum 12:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they
smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness...and let other people clean up the mess they had made..."

--The Great Gatsby, page 187

Posted by: h on November 28, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Perle is a dick, but why is everyone picking on Chalabi?

Posted by: Matt on November 28, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but at least the fictional Gatsby had some kind of charisma. Chalabi is suspect on all kinds of levels. More like the "Uriah Heep of Iraq."

Posted by: BruceR on November 28, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Does that mean that some aggrieved Shia tribesman is going to shoot and kill Chalabi next to his swimming pool (assuming, of course that he's not hiding out in London or St. Tropez).

Posted by: JeffII on November 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, at least most people feel some measure of sympathy for Gatsby - it's not like he was a creepy asshole trying to take over America. I think the "Aaron Burr of Iraq" is a better fit.

Posted by: b on November 28, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Perle is a dick, but why is everyone picking on Chalabi? Posted by: Matt

Because, if possible, he's an even bigger dick than Perle. Or is it that he's an even bigger piece of trash? Or was it that he's . . .

Posted by: JeffII on November 28, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

From wikipedia: In 1965, Chalabi received an Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from MIT. In 1969, he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago under the direction of George Glauberman (dissertation title: On the Jacobson Radical of a Group Algebra, see [3]), after which he took a position in the mathematics department at the American University of Beirut. He published 3 mathematics papers between 1973 and 1980, one being Modules over group algebras and their application in the study of semi-simplicity, Mathematische Annalen 201 (1973), 57–63. His Erdős number is 6.

Sounds more like a nerd than someone with a scandalous social life.

Posted by: ex-liberal on November 28, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Chalabi was also called "The George Washington" of Iraq by various neo-cons.

I think the Jay Gatsby comparison is more appropriate.

Posted by: Dave on November 28, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Nice try, Kevin. Dr. Chalabi is actually a highly revered mathmatician, noted for his work with Jacob's Radicals. If you guys have any expereince with mathmatics (which I doubt) you would know that such topics are probably the hardest things to know.

Iraq needs more men like Dr. Chalabi. I only hope the liberal's constant haranging and persecution hasn't discouraged him to the point of throwing in the towal.

Posted by: egbert on November 28, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

"They're a rotten crowd," Richard Perle shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together."

Posted by: kth on November 28, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Ah, Kevin.

Nice try, Kevin. Dr. Chalabi is actually a highly revered mathmatician, noted for his work with Jacob's Radicals. If you guys have any expereince with mathmatics (which I doubt) you would know that such topics are probably the hardest things to know.

Iraq needs more men like Dr. Chalabi. I only hope the liberal's constant haranging and persecution hasn't discouraged him to the point of throwing in the towal."

Egbert that would be, uh, Jacobson Radical, named for Nathan Jacobson.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on November 28, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

mathmatician, egbert? mathmatics

You would have us believe that you have ever even picked up a higher math textbook? Please!

Pardon me while I fetch a towal to wipe the tears that are streaming down my face. I'm laughing so hard at you and your perfect idiocy that it hurts!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

egbert...funniest post ever.

Posted by: jrw on November 28, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing it's wrong in ConservaPedia, J.P., hence egbert's faux pas.

(See how I did that? Threw in a French phrase to make his little cranium go "Pop!")

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq Peace Accords..Its a Chalibian World
By Craig Johnson

A cunning, brilliant, spectacularly amoral solution.

(Opening thoughts on the US Executive Branch signing an agreement for a major long term military presence in Iraq.)

As Malaki accepts the Honorary post of Shah of Iraq once promised to Chalabi, the Iraqi nationalists and the Iraqi fundamentalists are sold down the river.

Who said that two wrongs could not make a right or that a continuous pattern of incompetence as in BushCo arming proscribed elements..."other terrorist groups, as well as all other outlaw groups, such as criminal remnants of the former regime;"....(the Sunnis) could not make the Shia holler Uncle ("Sam").

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you just gotta love it.

Wait until the coming Democrat executive cum majority tells our Iraqi co-signors that they have to inaugurate women's rights to keep our support.

Have I just been transmigrated to Doonesbury World? Hello! Hello!

(cartoon??: Malaki pulls off his latex face mask to reveal that he is in fact Ahmed Chalabi)

Posted by: cognitorex on November 28, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Gatsby's wardrobe was much better. Chalabi looks like an unmade bed most of the time....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 28, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

As Malaki accepts the Honorary post of Shah of Iraq once promised to Chalabi, the Iraqi nationalists and the Iraqi fundamentalists are sold down the river. Posted by: cognitorex

When the Democratic president takes office in 2009, we will see a pretty quick draw down of troops in Iraq, regardless of what kind of agreement Bush seems to think we have with them. The military will demand it, and they will find a more receptive ear in a Democratic administration.

Once this happens, Iraq becomes the Wild West again, and all our well-laid plans will have gone to naught. It may not be quite like Saigon in 1975, but pretty close. For one thing, the new compound is just that, as opposed to a undefendable office building in the middle of town surrounded by a brick wall topped with decorative wrought iron.

The designed fortifications of the new digs should provide enough time to bobby trap all the routes in. The only weak point is the river side of the compound. Could get pretty hairy with jihadi on the Euphrates in Criss Crafts armed with RPGs, and the "bad guys" could easily (which they may do anyway, a la the Palestinians) be lobbing mortar rounds into the compound across the river. If they get a hold of a howitzer . . .

The best we can hope for is that by the time this happens we are running on just a skeleton crew there so that the evacuation doesn't take more than a couple helicopter loads.

I give Maliki 18 more months as the Shah of Iraq.

Posted by: JeffII on November 28, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Nice try, Kevin. Dr. Chalabi is actually a highly revered mathmatician, noted for his work with Jacob's Radicals. If you guys have any expereince with mathmatics (which I doubt) you would know that such topics are probably the hardest things to know.

Iraq needs more men like Dr. Chalabi. I only hope the liberal's constant haranging and persecution hasn't discouraged him to the point of throwing in the towal. Posted by: egbert

Ah, Egbert.

If only you had any experience with spelling. Don't you realize dumbass that all the words with pretty red underlining are misspelled or, at best, not recognized by the spell check embedded in the comment box?

Actually, Chalabi may be a "revered mathmatician," whatever the hell that is. He's certainly a practiced liar.

Fucking moron.

Posted by: JeffII on November 28, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK
Yeah, but at least the fictional Gatsby had some kind of charisma. Chalabi is suspect on all kinds of levels. More like the "Uriah Heep of Iraq." Posted by: BruceR

Hey! Leave Uriah Heep out of this! They had some pretty good songs!

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on November 28, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Too elight. We don't know who Jay Gatsby is.

Posted by: Luther on November 28, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

I always believed that Chalabi was responsible for the Jordanian Embassy bombing as revenge for Jordan's having the audacity to convict him of bank fraud.

Posted by: Mike on November 28, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Too elight. We don't know who Jay Gatsby is.

That is a sad commentary. Probably true, but a sad commentary none the less.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 28, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Two years ago I attended the 40th reunion of my and Chalabi's class at MIT. Lots of math majors came including all the females, a very connected group of people. No one remembered Chalabi.


Posted by: bostonian in Brooklyn on November 28, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

He's called that due to the fact that he'll be played by Robert Redford in the movie version
-- because Rodney Dangerfield is dead.

Posted by: Kenji on November 28, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

What people tend to forget is that, in the novel, things for Gatsby did not work out well at all.

Posted by: Will Divide on November 28, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Sounds more like a nerd than someone with a scandalous social life."

LOL.... Dear heart, this was almost as stupid a post as Egbert's. Has it, perchance, escaped your notice that Chalabi has engaged in just a few activities since 1980? Some of those activities are even documented in that Wikipedia article you're so proud of.

Posted by: PaulB on November 28, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Before Chalabi can be compared to Gatsby, would he not have to be murdered by a crazed auto repair shop owner?

Posted by: Brojo on November 28, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

As I vaguely recall the Cliff Notes and Spark Notes, Jay Gatsby was supposed to be a good guy--something like representing the purity of the American dream, as opposed to its corruption as represented by Tom and Daisy.

If that interpretation is correct, then no, a comparison to Gatsby is not appropriate.

Posted by: Amelia on November 28, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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