Shame is for Sissies
Author: Peter Krupa
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 05/12/2005
curious individual in the Washington, D.C., lobbying scene was posthumously thrust into the news
spotlight this month by his obituary in the Washington Post.
Humanitarian crusader? Conflict mediator? Unsung hero in
a sea of ugliness?
name was Edward von Kloberg III and his motto was shame is for sissies. A man
who practiced what he preached, von Kloberg contracted out his elite PR services
to the baddest of the bad, the most despicable tyrants and dictators in the
world among them, Saddam Hussein, Samuel K. Doe, Nicolae Ceausescu, and the
military regime in Burma.
obituary goes on to detail a flamboyant lifestyle heaving with social
engagements, soirées, and dinner parties, along with an eccentric personal
fashion that included capes, steamer trunks, and the wearing of foreign medals
on his tuxedo. At the suggestion of a journalist, he added von to his name
because it sounded distinguished. He was a champion schmoozer that everyone
liked often despite themselves. Fittingly, perhaps, he committed suicide by
jumping off the wall of a castle in Rome.
would be easy to morally lambaste a man who spent most of his career
sympathizing with third-world murderers and war criminals, but the more
interesting part of the obituary and some of the commentary on various websites
is von Kloberg s claim that he was actually a peacemaker and worked to mediate
instance, in an interview with the Post several months ago he said he convinced
Iraqi ambassador Nizar Hamdoon to meet Jews for the first time at one of his
intimate dinner parties.
Post obit also states that, He cited the case of Ceausescu, for whom he won
U.S. trade concessions. In return, he
said, the dictator permitted the printing of Bibles for the first time in
decades and, for a stiff price, allowed Soviet Jews to travel through
Romania on their way to
When he represented Saddam Hussein, according to Foreign Agents
Registration records von Kloberg himself filed with the Department of Justice,
he billed the since-deposed Iraqi dictator for several op-eds in the New York
Times and other newspapers that advocated a U.S. tilt towards Iraq in its longstanding conflict with the
ayatollahs of Iran. Von Kloberg took credit for the
op-eds, and asked to be, and was, compensated for each and every one by Saddam.
The authors of the op-eds, all of them (including a then-Congressman), told me
that they had never heard of Von Kloberg. One was more amused than angry,
telling me: I guess everyone has to find a way to make a living.
course, that s a small consolation for the Kurds who were gassed to death by
Hussein, especially since von Kloberg was actually the one entrusted with the
task of convincing the U.S. government that the atrocity was
More likely than his own sympathetic rendition of
events, von Kloberg was probably nothing more than a high-class huckster up to
the very end, able to take even his own morally dubious career and give it a
gentle sheen of occasional good works.
the Post obit, he compared his job to that of a public defender someone has to
stick up for the criminals, he would say. He said there had been greater
challenges and rewards in his career than had he crusaded for a good cause, said
wonders if he is still saying that.
Bio: Peter Krupa is the editor of the Peace & Conflict Monitor