The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 03, 2004
 

The model for Chalabi?


Reading some more guff on the Chalabi/WMD farrago, I'm put in mind of a half-remembered scene from the 1980s miniseries Jewel in the Crown, adapted from the novels by Paul Scott.

JITC is a well-known artefact of British popular culture. Coming when just enough of those in responsible positions in British India during the period from Quit India in 1942 till the end of the Raj in 1947 were still alive, it plugged in to the prevailing anti-colonialist sentiment amongst the liberal chattering classes: contrasted were the sickening snobbery of the Heaven-Born - members of the ICS [1] - and officers in the Indian Army [2], fawning Indians, and the villain, Ronald Merrick, a grammar-school boy - counter-jumper - perverted in every way by this odious system: no mean fawner himself, a queer and a sadist, he visited his less attractive side on those unfortunate natives who came in his way.

Most notably, on the pathetic évolué Hari Kumar - Harry Coomer at his English public school (hotbeds of sadism and sodomy) - equally perverted by the hateful Raj.

Despite the mountain of information available on the Raj, from which a rather more balanced view might be drawn, JITC was widely taken to be some kind of documentary, rather than - as it was - a piece of independence agitprop coming forty years too late. (Much the same happened to Richard Attenborough's 1982 Gandhi, - poor Dickie Attenborough's eager tongue saved Indira Gandhi [3] a year's supply of bog-paper. The Pakistani reply - Jinnah - came years later and sank without trace, so far as I'm aware.)

And Chalabi?

Revenons à nos moutons: in JITC, Merrick is mooching around some bazaar, and an oily little Indian sidles up to him and whispers:
Sahib, you want girl?

Merrick swats him away. He persists.
Sahib wants boy?

Merrick very much did want boy - a comely young lad was produced, and Merrick got his public school initiation at long last.

Chalabi, like the bazaar pimp, soon perceived how desperately USG wanted boy - and ensured a regular supply of soft flesh and readily dilating sphincters.

The difference with Chalabi and his Administration friends, of course, was that Merrick, villain though he was, was ashamed of his transaction...

  1. The thousand or so civil servants who ran India: by 1939, around half of these were Indians.

  2. There were two armies present in British India in 1939 (later they got company!): the Indian Army, of (mostly) European officers and native other ranks and the British Army, white throughout. (British Other Ranks were pretty much the lowest form of white life on the subcontinent!) In the Indian Army, one had an unusual tertium quid: between King's Commissioned Officers and other ranks, one had Viceroy's Commissioned Officers - Subadar-Major, and the like - ranks which were held solely by natives.

  3. No relation to Mohandas Gandhi, of course. Daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, mother of Rajiv, mother-in-law of Sonia.


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