Magazine article The Spectator

Hanging Around

Magazine article The Spectator

Hanging Around

Article excerpt

High life

New York

For a man who is supposed to be in Northern Iraq, I'm sure taking my time in the Bagel. No, I haven't turned yellow, it's just that Charlie Glass keeps telling me to stay put. Last week P.J. O'Rourke, bored out of his mind, called Charlie from Kuwait City announcing that he'd had it. 'This place makes Tirana seem like Paris in the Twenties. . ' P.J. wanted to join Charlie in Kurdistan. 'I was thinking of Tirana, and what a good time can be had there, just as you rang,' said Charlie. Apparently, there's nothing to do up north but wait around a hotel room. Charlie passed me on to his interpreter who spoke perfect Greek. I asked the polyglot if he could find any women for me in case I made it to Suleimanyia. Before he could answer - and Glass does not speak a word of Greek - I heard Charlie scream, 'Yes, and they all have beards.'

Poor guy. Two months in Suleimanyia must be like a Monte Carlo weekend in the company of Jack Straw, but what the hell. Now my friend Arnaud de Borchgrave tells me he can get me into Baghdad - I'll believe that when it happens - so for the time being I will sit tight in the Bagel and wait.

Arnaud just got back from Amman, where 1,600 journalists are cooling their heels, eating lotsa pitta bread, exchanging stories and inventing all sorts of scenarios. Arnaud went straight to the royal palace, had a long talk with the king and flew straight out again. This is the only way to do it. I hung around for months in Beirut and Amman during and after the so-called Black September of 1970, and it was fun because I was young. In fact driving from Beirut to Irbid and down to Amman was tricky and exciting. Then we drove to Damascus, made it through the border, just to fly out immediately to Cairo on a charter. Nasser had dropped dead.

As I write this, old Saddam may no longer be with us. That's what these overexcited women on American networks are hinting. The CIA is obviously paying out millions to tipsters, and the tips are coming in hard and fast. One thing is for sure: the equipment and weapons of the Iraqi army are not only lamentable as Andrew Gilligan wrote last week it makes the war look awfully unfair. Donald Rumsfeld refers to anyone resisting as a terrorist. What I'd like to know is what do you call someone who drops 2,000-lb bunkerbuster bombs on women and children? …

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