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When is corruption in Iraq funny?


“Stories of corruption are common in Iraq. Prosecutions for corruption are not.”

Steve Inskeep and J.J. Sutherland discussed the fact that the Iraqi trade minister has been arrested for astonishingly bold corruption. In their conversationĀ  (if you have four minutes – go listen) sounded alternately shocked, shocked at the stuff this guy got away with and impressed, in a paternalistic way, that he’s actually been caught and the Iraqi people are actually EXCITED to have seen the televised hearings. Gosh, democracy in action, isn’t that SWEET? But it turns out that the prosecution might be motivated by (gasp) party politics.

Sutherland: “…one MP told me, “You can fight corruption and play politics at the same time.”

Inskeep: LAUGHTER “Well it’s good that they’re honest about it.”


The true cognitive dissonance was that I heard this icky bit of us/them journalism just a few minutes after the newscast in which (you’ll have to take my word for it, I can’t find NPR archiving their newscasts on the web in audio or text, and they don’t seem to have done a “real” story on it anywhere) they reported, calmly, that KBR (remember them?) was being sued for faulty electrical work for the US military that resulted in multiple deaths. The brief report ended blandly with the sentence: “A spokesperson for KBR said the company was not responsible for the deaths.” Gee, wouldn’t it be funny if we had some politicians willing to fight that corruption?? (See a not-bland story on the scandal at RealClearPolitics).

To review: corruption in Iraq worth millions and resulting in death and injury, butĀ  practiced by a US corporation? Gotta be reported of course, but no emotion required, and certainly no attempt to question why Dick Cheney isn’t joining the Iraqi Trade Minister on trial. Corruption in Iraq practiced by Iraqis and little signs of real democracy in this otherwise comic state? Now that’s funny.

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  1. amina tarque

    September 7, 2009 @ 1:50 pm


    For us here in Iraq corruption is not funny, it is suffocating our society. I find your attempts at humour on this deathly subject in poor taste and disrespectful of Iraq’s suffering

  2. Persephone Miel

    September 24, 2009 @ 1:09 pm


    Amina – sorry for the delayed response — for some reason I wasn’t getting notification of comments. I think you missed my point – I wasn’t trying to be funny at all. I was myself quite disgusted at the fact that our American reporters seemed to find it corruption in Iraq funny, I was commenting on their lack of taste.