(going fuckin’ nuts with the beefcake pics this morning, sorry)

In February of 2005, world affairs correspondent Chuck Meehan declared that Ahmed Chalabi ” should be awarded the Doug Moody Lifetime Achievement award for con-men.” And as much as you might find any analogy between NOFX and acts of war distasteful, Chuck wasn’t far off the mark.

Chalabi, currently exiled in London, unloads on the New York Times’ awesomely monikered Dexter Filkins in today’s magazine section, and whether you think he’s motivated by self-interest or merely speaking the truth, it’s a fascinating interview.

At the heart of the American decision to take over and run Iraq, Chalabi now concludes, lay a basic contempt for Iraqis, himself included.

œIn Wolfowitz™s mind, you couldn™t trust the Iraqis to run a democracy, Chalabi says. œ ˜We have to teach them, give them lessons,™ in Wolfowitz™s mind. ˜We have to leave Iraq under our tutelage. The Iraqis are useless. The Iraqis are incompetent.™

œWhat I didn™t realize, Chalabi says, œwas that the Americans sold us out.

Turkish coffee is served, then tea. I consider Chalabi™s predicament: the Iraqi patrician, confidant of prime ministers and presidents, the MIT and University Of Chicago-trained mathematics professor, owner of a Mayfair flat, complaining of being regarded, by the masters he once manipulated, as a scruffy, shiftless native.

œI™ve been a friend of America, and I™ve been its enemy, he says. œAmerica betrays its friends. It sets them up and betrays them. I™d rather be America™s enemy.