Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sometimes a cigar case...

...is only a political opportunity:
It seems that a Western politician is finally going to pay the price for his involvement in the Iraq war. After five years of disaster and bungling, I am told that justice is about to be done, and I expect many readers will be delighted.

....I am informed by my friends in the Metropolitan Police that I am shortly to become the one and only Western politician to be brought to justice for crimes committed in Iraq. My transgression? I have somewhere in my possession a cigar case that once belonged to Tariq Aziz.

....Grinning looters were hacking up the roads and carting off the copper wiring, and I was taken to see what the mob had done to the villas of Saddam's regime.

We came to the riverside house of Tariq Aziz, the white-haired Chaldean Christian who served as Saddam's deputy and foreign minister, a man so intimate with the tyrant that he inspired one of the only jokes of the war: When does Saddam have his dinner? When Tariq Aziz.

As I stared at the remains of his home, I saw utter destruction. Surely the looters had left nothing of value.

Such was their lust for metal piping that the very bidets had been ripped out and smashed. A blackened safe lay on its side, and everywhere was rubbish and filth. And there, just by my toe, protruding from beneath a piece of dusty plywood, was the cigar case.

Actually, it was only the bottom half of a cigar case, in thick red leather and coarsely stitched.

....I reached down instinctively, and placed it for safekeeping in my pocket. Amid such wholesale larceny and devastation, who was going to quibble about a cigar case?

The British Government had just assisted in the destruction of billions of pounds of Iraqi property; Western forces had allowed thieves to carry off 99 per cent of the valuables of Tariq Aziz, not to mention the priceless Sumerian artefacts of the Iraqi National Museum.

Would there be anyone so petty, so time-wastingly idiotic, as to complain? Alas, I forgot about the Labour Party. Five years after I found this memento, Labour stooges were recently combing my articles for anything discreditable to a Conservative mayoral candidate.

They found the article, and with bulging eyes they went to the Metropolitan Police and demanded that I be prosecuted. I am accused by my political opponents of removing a cultural artefact from Iraq. As it happens, I also have in my possession a letter from the lawyers of Tariq Aziz, informing me that Mr Aziz wishes me to regard the cigar case as a gift.

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