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Escape from Chelm
by Daniel Sargis
05 May 2004Iraqi Flag

Appointing a former member of the Republican Guard to a command position in Fallujah is like smothering a fire with more logs. 

The good news is that Thomas Hamill, the American civilian held hostage in Iraq since April 9, has escaped.  In spite of the best efforts of terrorists and liberals alike, Hamill did something very American...with faith in God, he took responsibility for himself.  Hamill saw his opportunity; kicked open a door; and ran into the open arms of an American patrol.  The bad news?  The town of Chelm still flourishes and always will.

Imaginative author Francine Prose, in her incredibly funny “The Angel’s Mistake,” tells a story set in the imaginary town of Chelm.  Chelm is the creation of an angel who made a mistake...the angel was carrying a bag of “stupid souls” and mistakenly dropped them all in one town.  The results... "the wise men and women . . . put their brilliant minds together and solve their problems."

The people of Chelm are chock-full of ideas...from going barefoot in the snow to keep their shoes from getting wet to wearing their hats upside down in the rain to keep dry.  The story ends when these wise citizens, in need of light, decide to burn the town down.  Of course the firemen try to smother the fire with logs.  The moral of the story...the town is incinerated and the “stupid souls” of Chelm are finally disbursed, just as "the angels had intended."  Chelm is a case study in the lunacy of stupidity. 

And speaking of upside down hats...Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the top Marine commander in Iraq, must have been tirelessly thinking about his pension when he approved former Republican Guard Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh as commander of the “1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade.”  Hamill takes a step forward and Conway takes two steps back.

What sophistry of reason possessed General Conway when he picked a member of the former Baath Party to head the Fallujah Brigade?  Of course, General Saleh is a Sunni and closely aligned with the very people in Fallujah who are murdering American troops.  And, according to the Washington Post, “Conway acknowledged that some of the participants (in the Fallujah Brigade) would be people who fought against his Marines over the past month.” As a show of good faith, Saleh immediately declared that there were no “foreign fighters” in Fallujah.

When one “stupid soul” viewed the actions of another “stupid soul,” it was time for “Plan B.”  So, Saleh was replaced with General Amer Bakr al-Hashimi.  General al-Hashimi is viewed as a better choice because he refused to join Hussein’s Baath Party.  Reuters describes  al-Hashimi as a “general with a history of standing up to Saddam Hussein.”  Of course al-Hashimi confirmed his independence this past week when questioned by a reporter for his take on having served under Saddam.  He unflinching proclaimed, “I feel proud.”  Better try to douse that fire with some more gasoline.

In the midst of this madness, the citizens of Fallujah, posing as masked terrorists, openly celebrated "victory over the Americans" in the streets while the dauntless Fallujah Brigade looked the other way and American Marines withdrew from their positions.  In a move worthy of the Spanish, America found justice for all of its citizens murdered in Fallujah by empowering the murderers.  Yo Quiero Taco Bell!

While Chelm-like American commanders are pushing tinhorn Iraqi generals around the Ouija board, the Arab world is in a dervish over the treatment of a few Iraqi prisoners at the hands of the “sadistic” Americans.  In an unbelievable twist of “stupid souls,” some American soldiers committed “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses” at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, according to an internal U.S. military report.  Of course all of this takes place in front of a Fallujian backdrop of peace-loving Muslims playing soccer with American body parts.

While Saddam sits out his relatively pampered incarceration playing arrogant mind-games...Americans continue to die.  While peace-loving Saudi Muslims tie the body of a shooting victim to the bumper of a car and drag it in front of school children (summoned by gunfire from inside the Ibn Hayyan Secondary Boys School to watch the body being dragged), the Arab world is hypocritically silent.  But interrogate a Muslim with a bit of purpose and, according to the voice of terrorism (the New York Times), bin Laden’s “worst anti-American propaganda was true.”

The only “truth” presently known is that some Americans were stupid enough to take pictures of this fiasco.  Did anybody ever wonder why it took Jordanian officials less than 12 hours to have terrorist cell leader Azmi Jaiousi singing like a canary about the bomb plot which could have killed 80,000 people in Amman?  Rest assured that the Jordanians, unlike the “sadistic” Americans, did not interrogate their prisoners with shish kabob and rice pilaf 3 times a day.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan "was deeply disturbed by the pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated and humiliated by their guards."    He was, however, speechless about the previous “Blackwater atrocity," in which four Americans were killed and mutilated by a festive mob.  Annan continues to deny any wrong doing in the U.N. run “oil-for-food” program.  Funny how Annan was mum about the 30 years that Hussein ran torture cells in Abu Ghraib prison when the payoffs were rolling in.

At least Thomas Hamill is heading home.  While the “stupid souls” of Chelm keep trying to smother a fire with more logs, members of the Hamill family's local Baptist church in Macon, Mississippi prayed for Hamill around the clock.  While the “stupid souls” of Chelm walk in the snow barefoot to keep their shoes dry, Thomas Hamill had the American grit to take a hike on his peace-loving Muslim captors.  And had those peace-loving Muslim captors actually murdered Hamill as they threatened to do...the Arab world along with Kofi Annan would have fallen silent.  May God bless the “stupid souls” of Chelm.

Daniel Sargis, a freelance writer, is a principal in a private investment development company.  His website is dansargis.org

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