After Saddam's Capture: Will His Apologists Now Recant?





Mr. Khawaja, adjunct professor of philosophy at the College of New Jersey, is a columnist for Pakistan Today. The views he expresses here are his own.

An old, mad, blind and despised king …. --Shelley

  Has it come to this then: an unconsciously held ideology that permits the most scandalous and disgusting lies—execrably written, totally disorganized, hysterically asserted—to pass as genuine scholarship, factual truth, political insight, without any significant challenge, demurral, or even polite reservation? --Edward Said, “Conspiracy of Praise,” Blaming the Victims (1988), p. 30.

As I sit here reflecting on the capture of Saddam Hussein, I find myself problematically hostage to dueling sentiments of triumphalism and depression. The reasons for the sense of triumph are obvious enough. But why the depression?

Perhaps it has to do with the first thing I heard after I learned of the capture this morning. “Saddam has been captured!” I yelled at no one in particular. To which the immediate response was: “Oh no : there goes the election!” In other words: better that Saddam go free than that Bush profit from his capture and win re-election in 2004.

Or perhaps it's the memories. I remember watching the invasion of Kuwait on TV in 1990. As I watched Saddam's units roll into Kuwait City , the person sitting next to me—a non-Arab Muslim— cheered . “ That will show the Americans,” he said, pounding the table. Today, the same person tried to get my mind off of the day's triumph by sending me Robert Jay Lifton's vacuous essay, “American Apocalypse” (The Nation , Dec. 4, 2003). How unbearable it must be to face the ignominious end, at American hands, of the man who would “show” the Americans. And how narcotizing and anaesthetizing the effect of Lifton's clarion call to inaction.

I remember, too, the Arabs and Muslims who defended Saddam this time around. Saddam's Iraq , said Azmi Bishara the Palestinian-Israeli politician, “is a civil and orderly Arab country, with a secular regime.” So its military, still under Saddam's command at the time Bishara was writing, deserved Arab/Muslim “solidarity” in the face of the Coalition attack—solidarity that Bishara, having previously genuflected before the “civil and orderly” regime in Syria, was only too happy to give. “Pan-Arabism”—this clown tells us, prating of all things, of “intellectual independence” and “moral judgment”--“is alive.” Bear this thought in mind the next time you hear some Arab tell you that the Arabs were really and truly against Saddam. Well, if pan-Arabism were really as alive as Bishara intimates, what obstacle stopped the Unified Arab Nation from getting rid of the dictator they so sincerely claim to hate? Or did Bishara mean that Saddam was part of the pan-Arab nation?

I save the best—or worst—for last. Last April, I came upon the following passage in the British press:

Adding to the fraudulence of the weapons not found, the Stalingrads that didn't occur, the artillery defences that never happened, I wouldn't be surprised if Saddam disappeared suddenly because a deal was made in Moscow to let him, his family, and his money leave in return for the country. The war had gone badly for the US in the south, and Bush couldn't risk the same in Baghdad . On 6 April, a Russian convoy leaving Iraq was bombed; Condi Rice appeared in Russia on 7 April; Baghdad fell 9 April.

I think that most readers will “not be surprised” to learn that the author of the passage was none other than the late Professor Edward Said (Observer, April 20, 2003 ).

Put aside the fraudulent claim that no weapons were found: just take a look at UNMOVIC's Twelfth Quarterly report or its March 2003 Cluster Document and you can read all about the ones that were . Never mind that Professor Said was the person who went out of his way, back in 1991, to deny that the Iraqi poison-gas attack at Halabja had ever taken place (cf. Leo Casey, “Questioning Halabja Genocide and the Expedient Political Lie,” Dissent, Summer 2003)—and that he did so “at the very moment the Baathist regime was launching its brutal suppression of the post-Gulf War uprisings of the Kurds and Shiites.”

Never mind the tension between saying that “artillery defences never happened” and saying that “the war had gone badly for the US in the south”: had the war gone badly through an absence of defences, or an absence of artillery? In the former case, how does a defending army make things go “badly” for an attacker without defending anything? In the latter case, what about the Iraqi missiles that were fired at Kuwait —missiles, after all, are a form of artillery. Never mind that the war really hadn't gone badly in the south—except from the perspective of the Iraqi army, which ran away.

Never mind that it was Saddam Hussein's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz who told the Russian newspaper Izvestia that " Iraq will become a second Stalingrad for the British and American invaders." And let's ignore the fact that he was right only in one respect, namely, that Saddam Hussein did indeed manage to resemble both parties to the siege of Stalingrad, the Nazis and the Soviets.

We could dwell at length on the party-hack mentality capable of producing such brazen contradictions. We could dwell also on the incongruity between the party-hack mentality on the one hand, and the inflated academic reputation on the other. But never mind. Look instead at the furtive, half-baked conspiracy theory propounded in Said's essay. Ask yourself why a reputable newspaper would have printed such trash—and reflect on how little will ever be said about it after its having been so conclusively demolished by Saddam's capture in Iraq.

What, precisely, was Professor Said's theory? A Russian convoy leaving Iraq was bombed; Condoleeza Rice appeared shortly thereafter in Russia ; and Baghdad soon fell. The same man who filled hundreds of pages with “anti-essentialist” polemics—railing against those who made large-scale generalizations from too meager a sample of facts—this same certified intellectual giant now took these three puny facts to support his grandly idiotic geopolitical theory. To evaluate the dementia here, however, we'd do best to borrow a methodological precept from the great man himself. “Do not try to answer” any questions you may have about the theory “straight out.” Instead, ask the author “questions you would ask someone who argued that the universe was being run from an office inside the Great Pyramid” (Edward Said, “The Essential Terrorist,” Blaming the Victims , p. 158). Indeed. I couldn't have said it better. So let's begin with the base of the pyramid and work our way tediously to its apex.

Why would the Russians have obliged us just because we had bombed one of their convoys? Wouldn't that have been an incentive to punish rather than reward us by getting us out of the supposed jam that Said envisions? And what good would it have done the Russians to have smuggled Saddam out of Iraq anyway? What benefits were there to be reaped for the Russians by the presence of Saddam Hussein & Family— especially if Saddam no longer had power in Baghdad ? Why does Condoleeza Rice's sheer appearance in Russia suggest that she went there because of Saddam? Even if she had, how could such a deal have been wrapped up so quickly?

Anyway, if the war was going so badly for the US in the south, and Bush feared that it would go worse in Baghdad, what incentive would Saddam have had for giving himself up so easily? While we're at it, if Russia had had such leverage over Saddam, and Saddam had realized how militarily hopeless his situation was (granted this contradicts Said's scenario by comporting more closely with the facts), why wasn't a deal hammered out between the Russians and the Americans sometime between the summer of 2002 and the spring of 2003? How could a deal that wasn't hammered out in that much time suddenly be finalized under conditions of (American) duress in two days ? By the way, how does one square Said's theory with the capture or killings of so many members of the Baath regime (i.e., the “deck of cards”)? And how does one square the Said Theory with the assassinations of Saddam's sons, i.e., his closest family members?

Above all, how does one square Professor Said's theory with the sanctimoniousness of a man who spent a career berating his peers, above all in America, for their insufficient attention to the canons of logic, evidence and intellectual integrity—while flouting all of them at the crucial moment? What does it say that this supposed moral hero, who claimed all his life to “speak truth to power” should so shamefully have debased himself to make the lamest excuses for the world's basest power? How does one square the truly pitiful passage I've quoted above with the inflated rhetoric universally in use to praise this monumental fraud?

And that brings me to the reasons for my depression at Saddam Hussein's capture. When I read Said's essay way back in April, I saved it for the day when Saddam was at last found, if only to fling the essay back at its author's face. Today, at long last, is that day. And yet I find that the author is no longer here to receive his due. Hence my depression.

But I brighten a bit at the thought that a cruel, disoriented man in Baghdad is at last to receive his due, or at least whatever part of it we can inflict without sullying ourselves by the infliction. Thinking about this, I find my original sense of triumph and of depression giving way to a cold, anti-climactic sort of contempt. Keep Saddam alive after a calm, but drawn-out trial before his victims, I think; then let him rot forever in a solitary prison cell, contemplating his own pitiful identity for the rest of whatever life remains to him. Because believe it or not, that might just be punishment enough for someone with an identity like his. And, perhaps—just perhaps—it might be consolation enough for the rest of us.


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Steve Brody - 7/19/2004


Kent, I can appreciate sarcasm. Sometimes I engage in it myself.

I ask you WHAT support we gave Saddam, you spend three tortuous paragraphs telling me WHEN. Sound it out, Kent. Whhaat. Whhen. See, they don’t sound even remotely similar.

I surmised that the time period you allege all this support was given was the 80,s. What I asked you was what, specifically, you think we gave him. What did you give me: a repeat of your thesis that we sold him weapons. WHAT WEAPONS, Kent. Concentrate.

Let me help you, Kent.

When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, were the Iraqi’s driving American tanks? Nope, those were Russian tanks. Provided by Russia.

Were those Iraqi pilots flying American fighter planes? Nope, those were French and Russian fighter planes.

Were those American M-16’s that the Iraqi’s were shooting at us? Nope, those were Russian AK-47’s, provided by Russia.

Were those American anti tank missiles being fired at our troops? Nope, those were French missiles being fired from French attack helicopters.

Was that American artillery being fired at our troops? Nope, that was Russian artillery, provided by Russia.

Gosh, Kent. All those weapons you say we provided Saddam. Why do you suppose he didn’t use them?

I’ll give you a hint. Between 1973 and 2002, we sold Saddam a grand total of 55 civilian helicopters. During the same period, France and Russia sold Saddam hundreds of warplanes, hundreds of attack helicopters, thousands of Main Battle Tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces, thousands of SAMS and RPG’s, and millions of rounds of ammo for all that hardware .

But in your model of the Universe, we’re somehow the chief supporter of Saddam, not Russia and France. You claim that Reagan authorized weapons sale to Iraq. Reagan authorized Russia and France to sell all those weapons? Is that how it worked? Reagan probably didn’t realize that he had so much influence over Russia and France. Amazing.

About those anthrax samples. They were provided to Iraq and a lot of other countries under a CDC program for medical research. Was it a smart thing to do? Probably not, but since he never used anthrax on anybody it didn’t turn out to mean that much.


Steve Brody - 7/19/2004


Kent, I can appreciate sarcasm. Sometimes I engage in it myself.

I ask you WHAT support we gave Saddam, you spend three tortuous paragraphs telling me WHEN. Sound it out, Kent. Whhaat. Whhen. See, they don’t sound even remotely similar.

I surmised that the time period you allege all this support was given was the 80,s. What I asked you was what, specifically, you think we gave him. What did you give me: a repeat of your thesis that we sold him weapons. WHAT WEAPONS, Kent. Concentrate.

Let me help you, Kent.

When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, were the Iraqi’s driving American tanks? Nope, those were Russian tanks. Provided by Russia.

Were those Iraqi pilots flying American fighter planes? Nope, those were French and Russian fighter planes.

Were those American M-16’s that the Iraqi’s were shooting at us? Nope, those were Russian AK-47’s, provided by Russia.

Were those American anti tank missiles being fired at our troops? Nope, those were French missiles being fired from French attack helicopters.

Was that American artillery being fired at our troops? Nope, that was Russian artillery, provided by Russia.

Gosh, Kent. All those weapons you say we provided Saddam. Why do you suppose he didn’t use them?

I’ll give you a hint. Between 1973 and 2002, we sold Saddam a grand total of 55 civilian helicopters. During the same period, France and Russia sold Saddam hundreds of warplanes, hundreds of attack helicopters, thousands of Main Battle Tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces, thousands of SAMS and RPG’s, and millions of rounds of ammo for all that hardware .

But in your model of the Universe, we’re somehow the chief supporter of Saddam, not Russia and France. You claim that Reagan authorized weapons sale to Iraq. Reagan authorized Russia and France to sell all those weapons? Is that how it worked? Reagan probably didn’t realize that he had so much influence over Russia and France. Amazing.

About those anthrax samples. They were provided to Iraq and a lot of other countries under a CDC program for medical research. Was it a smart thing to do? Probably not, but since he never used anthrax on anybody it didn’t turn out to mean that much.


Bill Heuisler - 12/26/2003

Mr. Green,
When you complain about, "lies that led the U.S. and Great Britain into the war against Iraq", you exhibit either a closed mind or a lack of knowledge. There were no "lies" about WMDs. If you disagree, name one. But your false accusation misses the real point.

Don't you think it’s odd when mainstream reporters brush off Mohammed Atta’s meeting in Prague with the Iraqi consul five months before 9/11? And why doesn't anyone remember a place called Salman Pak?

Mr. Green, Salman Pak is an Iraqi training camp located near Baghdad where, according to an Iraqi defector quoted in the New York Times, November, 2001, terrorists from around the world rehearsed airline hijackings aboard a parked airliner (a Russian Tupolev 54) that bore an eerie resemblance to what transpired on 9/11. "We could see them train around the fuselage," Sabah Khalifa Khodada Alami, a five-year Salman Pak veteran, stated. "We could see them practice taking over the plane."

The London Observer quoted another defector: Abu Zeinab al-Quarairy, a Colonel in Mukhabarat who said one of the highlights of Salman Pak curriculum was training men to hijack aircraft using only knives or bare hands and to work in groups of four or five. Sound familiar? Zeinab added there was a foreigners' camp in Salman Pak run by Mukhabarat. He said, "These guys would stop and insist on praying to Allah five times a day when we had training to do.” He said conversations with trainees made it clear they came from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. “We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. The Gulf War never ended for Saddam Hussein. He is at war with the United States. We were repeatedly told this." Zeinab added that when he learned about the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, he turned to a friend and said, “That’s ours.”

The Bush administration has been largely silent about Salman Pak, and the Left repeats the silly notion that the Salman Pak Tupelov was used to train Iraq Security to resist highjackers from other countries. Silly? Former CIA Director, James Woolsey thinks so. He's apparently convinced the Tupolev was used to rehearse 9/11-style hijackings. In late November, 2002, Woolsey told Fox News’ Laurie Dhue, "We know that at Salman Pak, on the southern edge of Baghdad, five different eyewitnesses, three Iraqi defectors and two American U.N. inspectors, have said - and now there are aerial photographs to show it - a Boeing 707 for training of hijackers, including non-Iraqi hijackers trained very secretly to take over airplanes with knives." (Knives weren't used before 9/11.)

The Prague meeting took place on April 4, 2001 – five months before 9/11. Atta met with Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir, Iraqi consul and Iraqi intelligence officer - and ten days later the Iraqi consul was expelled. But the New York Times insists the Czech government has denied the Atta meeting. They haven't, Czechs say the opposite.
Milos Zeman, Czech Prime Minister, Jan Kavan, Foreign Minister, Stanislav Gross, Chief of Czech Intelligence (BIS) and Hynek Kmonicek, Czech UN Ambassador and Deputy Prime Minister all insist the Prague meeting did occur.

So what's going on? Why's the contradiction being ignored?
Shouldn't we be arguing about the inconsistancies in such an important story? Could the answer be more political?

Woolsey's CIA successor, George Tenet, Clinton appointee, has never said Salman Pak connected Iraq to al-Qaeda. Tenet has publicly denied Baghdad played a role in 9/11. Tenet's opposition is believed to have been key in the decision not to spotlight Iraq's 9/11 role, leaving White House officials with the sole argument that Saddam threatened the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction.

As the postwar search for WMDs continues without major finds, the Bush administration might want to allow the release of more information on Atta in Prague and on the real function of Salman Pak. Don't ask about lies and apologists, Mr. Green, look up the names I mentioned above on Google and ask about news we're not getting.
Bill Heuisler


Michael Green - 12/25/2003

As a liberal who opposed both the war and Saddam Hussein, I am glad that he is out of power but sad that Professor Khawaja, as a professor of philosophy, seems to have no problem with the lies that led the U.S. and Great Britain into the war against Iraq. As to Saddam's apologists, the one I don't recall commenting on his old apologies for Saddam is Donald Rumsfeld.


Steve Brody - 12/25/2003


Kent, I can appreciate sarcasm. Sometimes I engage in it myself.

I ask you WHAT support we gave Saddam, you spend three tortuous paragraphs telling me WHEN. Sound it out, Kent. Whhaat. Whhen. See, they don’t sound even remotely similar.

I surmised that the time period you allege all this support was given was the 80,s. What I asked you was what, specifically, you think we gave him. What did you give me: a repeat of your thesis that we sold him weapons. WHAT WEAPONS, Kent. Concentrate.

Let me help you, Kent.

When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait, were the Iraqi’s driving American tanks? Nope, those were Russian tanks. Provided by Russia.

Were those Iraqi pilots flying American fighter planes? Nope, those were French and Russian fighter planes.

Were those American M-16’s that the Iraqi’s were shooting at us? Nope, those were Russian AK-47’s, provided by Russia.

Were those American anti tank missiles being fired at our troops? Nope, those were French missiles being fired from French attack helicopters.

Was that American artillery being fired at our troops? Nope, that was Russian artillery, provided by Russia.

Gosh, Kent. All those weapons you say we provided Saddam. Why do you suppose he didn’t use them?

I’ll give you a hint. Between 1973 and 2002, we sold Saddam a grand total of 55 civilian helicopters. During the same period, France and Russia sold Saddam hundreds of warplanes, hundreds of attack helicopters, thousands of Main Battle Tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces, thousands of SAMS and RPG’s, and millions of rounds of ammo for all that hardware .

But in your model of the Universe, we’re somehow the chief supporter of Saddam, not Russia and France. You claim that Reagan authorized weapons sale to Iraq. Reagan authorized Russia and France to sell all those weapons? Is that how it worked? Reagan probably didn’t realize that he had so much influence over Russia and France. Amazing.

About those anthrax samples. They were provided to Iraq and a lot of other countries under a CDC program for medical research. Was it a smart thing to do? Probably not, but since he never used anthrax on anybody it didn’t turn out to mean that much.



C.R.W. - 12/23/2003


Thanks, Hugh - and likewise.

My understanding from the movie was that regardless of who ultimately received the payments, their amounts were decided on a family-by-family basis. Again, I never checked it with the actual case, so I'm still ignorant of whether damages were awarded jointly or severaly. My understanding is that arbitration facilitated a quicker response, and my guess is, lower attorney fees.

As for market-based approaches, it seems to me that there is good evidence that they can work - as long as they are written in a manner appropriate to the goal, of course, and not manipulated in the same way as so often happens to other legislation. Relegating damages to tort law is appealing to the inclination to incentivize against something so much more insidiously pervasive than we would like it to be, given the juxtaposition of inherent inefficiencies in the political system and legislature against a wide range of possibly damaging by-products from so many possible sources. However, given the lack of knowledge about many substances approved each year for release into the consumer marketplace, as well as the long gestation period of many of them before ill effects may be seen, much more research, input, and willingness to act is paramount.


Hugh High - 12/23/2003

While your points are well taken , I would note :

(a)in the typical suit, such as the Pacific Gas and Electric,the payments do NOT , in fact, go to individual citizens, but to the collectivity,e.g. the town. I confess I have no knowledge of what, in fact, happened in this suit. However, I would note that, when payments are made to a governmental unit they do not necessarily improve the well-being of anyone except government employees. The tobacco settlement monies are a good, although not perfect, case in point ; and, of course, there are many others.

(b) More importantly, the issue of "regulation" vs. legal and/or market solutions is , as you know, still very contentious. The case against regulation, and for other solutions , is that it is a 'one size fits all' palative and, particularly in the case of alleged environmental degrodation, it is only infrequent that all persons do the same amount of damage and/or are damaged by the same amounts. Morever, it is MOST unlikely, if the 'regulation' "solution" is undertaken , that the amount of regulation will be exactly optimal -- it is highly likely that it will be either too little regulation, or too much, with a net waste of resources, and damage to human well-being,in both cases.

That said, it was refreshing to read your rational arguments and comments which are all too rare on these pages, as you know. My congratulations.


C.R.W. - 12/22/2003


But in Erin Brockovich, Pacific Gas and Electric was required to make payments to the residents of Hinckley, CA, as a result of damages that would have been awarded in a civil suit, had they not ultimately been guaranteed through arbitration.

Although civil law/arbitration etc. is generally thought of as a less "intrusive" way to mediate conflicts between persons (a designation that legally includes corporations) than outright regulation, environmental matters are difficult to address effectively absent a context which categorizes them as a common/(public) good. Conservative jurists disagree and their political constituencies prefer to see private ownership of natural resources increase to a threshold where there exists a level of private interests sufficiently incentivized to address all environmental insults, as was the case in the movie. The efficacy of such an approach in the debate over maintaining the overall quality of the environment itself is still quite up in the air.


Kent - 12/22/2003


Steve,

You wrote:

"My challenge to you is this: If you believe as you state “Saddam Hussein's rise to power is directly attributable to U.S. support; Hussein's most powerful moments were the direct result of the intervention on the part of members of the current administration.” then you really need to provide the specific support that you believe that we provided. Absent those details, your statement is unpersuasive. Because it isn’t supported by you, it can’t be refuted by anyone else."

Okay Steve, let's review some history. The Baathists in Iraq first emerged as a major political force in the nation in the late 1950s; they attained power in the 1960s with the assistance of the Americans and British, and Hussein was one of the major thugs; finally, Hussein emerged as Iraq's central ruler in the late 1970s (1978 I believe, but could be in error on the specific date). Let's see, that means the timeframe when Hussein was in power would be roughly from 1978 (+/-) to 2003 (April 2003 to be exact).

************SARCASM ALERT SARCASM ALERT (DAVE)******************

What can we deduce from this timeframe? Was Hussein most powerful in 1940, while a small child in Tikrit? No, no. Was he most powerful in the 1950s? 1960s? Early- to mid-1970s? No, probably not then either. Let's see, it was probably in the 1990s after the U.S. led international coalition kicked his ass out of Kuwait, destroying his military, established the no-fly zones, and had the U.N. sanctions imposed. No, that doesn't make much sense either does it. I know, Hussein was such a crafty devil, his most powerful moments actually came AFTER April 2003 while he was hiding in that underground cave near Tikrit. No, that doesn't seem to work either.

Now, what period does that leave us? I guess it must have been the 1980s, that's all we have left. It must have been after the Reagan administration authorized the sale of weapons to Iraq, took Iraq off the list of terrorist sponsoring nations, sent Rumsfeild on his "goodwill mission" (ahem!) carrying anthrax agents, etc. Yea, that must have been it. Now, who in the '80s was Iraq's most powerful and influential sponsor? Do you really think it was the Danish? What about the Russians? Maybe the French, you know after Israel took out the nuclear reactor in 1981. You know, none of these suggestions seem quite right.

It must have been the good 'ol U.S. of A. That Republican stalwart, Ronald Reagan, who didn't negotiate with terrorists, he just sold them weapons. What made Hussein most powerful and such a threat to his internal opposition was the weapons he possessed and his willingness, his eagerness, to use them. Who sold him the weapons? Who provided the agents that allowed for Salman Pak to become a bio-weapon producing facility?

You and Bill must've gone to the same school. Read Alan Friedman, SPIDER'S WEB: THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOW THE WHITE HOUSE ILLEGALLY ARMED IRAQ. (Bantam Books: New York, 1993)

I do not base my conclusions on articles of faith. I leave that to people like you and Bill H.

Kent


Kent - 12/22/2003


Bill,

I didn't address "the detailed points on that subject made in [your]last post" because I had not yet to take the time to look them up and give them a read. But, since then, I have.

1. "Harry Dexter White + China": The first site that came up is connected to Princeton.edu and it lists the documents you listed, but the documents were not accessible online. So, I went to the next site: Chuckmorse.com!! Republican for Congress!! Boston's Conservative Choice!! Author of WHY I AM A RIGHT WING EXTREMIST!!??!! Good choice, Bill, for objective information (this is another example of sarcasm, Dave).

The moment I read your suggestion I was curious as to why you would refer to a "traitor" as proof that the U.S. had "extensive trade relations" with China prior to the Nixon/Kissinger initiative. Then it occured to me, the dates of the documents (that I admittedly have not had a chance to read), were from the late 1930s. Trying to establish trade ties with China at that time made perfect sense; my comments were directed toward post-1949 U.S.-China relations.

As I continued, I checked the next Internet site on Mr. White. Jon Basil Utley with http://www.biblebelievers.org (staffed, no doubt, by some of the most highly trained historians in the nation--more sarcasm, Dave) noted that following WWII, White and Laughlin Currie "sought to prevent German reconstruction and starve the Germans to make them desperate enough to go communist." THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, BILL. So, in the final analysis, how relevant was H. D. White to the actual formation and implementation of U.S. policy at this point in time?

2. The Murmansk Run: A wartime operation, although admittedly I am kind of curious about the 47 ships lost on the run between 1946 and 1950. Unfortunately, all of the sites tend to focus on the wartime exploits of the men and ships involved and it did make for some fascinating reading. I was particularly pleased to notice that the first Liberty ship to make the run was named the R. H. LEE. Didn't know that. I will make it a point to see what I can find out about the ships making the run after WWII, however. Again, how does this operation prove that there were "extensive trade ties" between the U.S. and Soviet Union before the mid-1980s? It was a wartime operation--yes it started before the U.S. officially entered the war in 1940, but it was still tied to the threat that Hitler posed, not commercial, peace time trade--which is what I was referring to in my observations that invited this rejoinder from you.

3. Salman Pak: The first site is globalsecurity.org managed by John Pike. Pike strikes me as a very reliable source, and so do many others; but you realize that what he presents is a "report" on information received--Pike does, but do you? He notes that in the mid-1980s plans were made to develop Salman Pak into a chemical and biological weapons facility. That's right, the mid-1980s; at the same time the U.S. was delivering the agents needed to manufacture such weapons. Pike also noted that the trucks seen moving prior to the onset of bombing SUGGESTS that Iraq was moving equipment IN TO or OUT OF the facility: he said it suggests, not confirms, not proves. And which is it Bill, in to or out of? There is quite a difference between the two possibilities.

Pike identifies the government sources for this information as "two defectors from Iraqi intelligence," other sites identify one of these as Sabah Khodada who was later interviewed on Frontline. I was also struck by the fact that some identify the sources as "military defectors." Which is it? Military defectors and defectors from Iraqi intelligence can plausibly be very different things, not necessarily, but possibly. In the end, Pike does not confirm anything using the same concrete language that you are so willing to use in relation to connections between Salman Pak, al Qaeda, and the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

So I went to the next site. The National Review online and a piece written by Deroy Murdock. What immediately caught my attention was the title of Murdock's piece: "What Salman Pak COULD Prove." Note he did not say "does prove," "has proven," or "will prove." Then, again we can just chalk this up to the jury still being out at the time he wrote the piece in April 2003.

James Woolsey, Clinton's CIA Director for a time was of the major sources Murdock quotes in the article. Read the following quotes from Woolsey:

First Quote:

"I believe it is definitely more likely than not that some degree of common effort in the sense of aiding or abetting or conspiracy was involved here between Iraq and the al Qaeda."

Second Quote:

"Even if one cannot show that...any of the individual 19 hijackers were trained at Salman Pak, the nature of the training and the circumstances suggest, to my mind, at least some kind of common aiding, abetting, assistance, cooperation, whatever word you might want to take."

How many wiggle words do you count, Bill? Are these the kinds of remarks you take as authoritative statements of fact? If so, then obviously you're not an historian.

Murdock proceeds to repeat the Czech Republic stuff about Atta's connections to Baghdad--which had already been discredited by the CIA before Murdock wrote the piece and has since been discredited by the Bush administration as well. He then reports how there was an Iraqi tie to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing noting that Ramzi Yousef had an Iraqi passport. First thought, so what. How difficult is it to get an American passport on the black market? What's more interesting, however, was Murdock's next phrase observing that Yousef fled to Pakistan--which is now our staunch ally in the so-called war against terrorism.

Both John Pike and another Internet site, FAS, refer to "Gulflink" as the primary document site. While visiting the latter site, I read the following: "This new complex [i.e. Salman Pak] was assessed as a pharmacuetical production plant. As such this facility would have an extensive capability for biological agent production." After reading this I clicked the "Gulflink" icon and found the actual document source. The source was dated October 1990 (that's pre-Gulf War I, Bill) and the analysis is so heavily qualified as to be meaningless. The risk was based on "our belief" and it gets better. Here read it yourself:

_______________________________________

22 October 1990

IRAQ BIOLOGICAL WARFARE THREAT

OVERVIEW

Iraq's biological and toxin weapons program is the most extensive in the Middle East. Large quantities of anthrax bacteria and botulinum toxin have likely been produced. We believe that these agents have been weaponized and that biological and toxin munitions already exist. We further believe that deployment of BW munitions in significant numbers will take place by the end of this year, if not already implemented.

U.S. and allied forces are assessed to be at significant risk if
BW operations are undertaken by Iraq. This assessment is based on:

1. Our belief that Iraq has the capability to tactically and
strategically deploy biological weapons

2. The presence of significant intelligence gaps including:
a. Lack of knowledge of Iraqi BW release and use doctrine
b. Absence of details on specific agents
c. Probable existence of unidentified agents
d. Minimal information which specific BW delivery
systems would be used

______________________________________

"Lack of knowledge"? "Absence of details"? "Probable existance"? "Minimal information"? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Nonetheless, I persisted. The next site took me to Rush Limbaugh. He posted the satellite photos of the jet fusalage at Salman Pak, but then automatically leaps to the conclusion that these photos present proof that they were used in al Qaeda training exercises. Most likely, Limbaugh used the same information Pike and others used, the two Iraqi military (or were they intelligence) officers. These informants allow for the possibility, but not the absolute certainty you would expect before launching a war against a nation that has cost us almost 500 soldiers (and still counting) and over $100 billion (and still counting). A surgical bombing, you bet. A war??

After taking your suggestions and following your leads, I've reached a different assessment of you Bill. Do me the favor of not reading my book; if you do, don't buy it, borrow it from the library; and whatever you do, don't waste my time by commenting on it. You wouldn't recognize a "fact" if it hit you in the face.

Your Humble and Obedient Servant,

Kent

(That's more sarcasm, Dave)


David - 12/22/2003


You understood me just fine, you just can't believe it. I'll repeat, it was a brilliant post.


Steve BRody - 12/21/2003


Kent, you miss my point and my challenge.

It is not my point that other countries provided assistance to Iraq in addition to the US. It is my contention that the US provided assistance to Iraq that was of little significance.
Go to the SIPRI website. It documents the lack of significant military assistance that we provided. And the SIGNIFICANT assistance provided by France and Russia. That doesn’t include the nuclear weapons lab France built that was co-located with the reactor at Osirak (is it any wonder France opposed the war?).

Somehow for the left in this country, France now occupies the moral high ground on this issue.

My challenge to you is this: If you believe as you state “Saddam Hussein's rise to power is directly attributable to U.S. support; Hussein's most powerful moments were the direct result of the intervention on the part of members of the current administration.” then you really need to provide the specific support that you believe that we provided. Absent those details, your statement is unpersuasive. Because it isn’t supported by you, it can’t be refuted by anyone else.

In short, the notion that we are responsible for Saddam’s “most powerful moments” is an article of faith for liberals (not just you) in this country. This seems to require no specificity or evidence.


I’ve laid out my position with some specificity, we didn’t provide conventional weapons, chemical weapons, or biological weapons to Iraq. We did proved targeting information to Saddam during the Iraq/Iraq war, but this was of little consequence to his survival and was certainly not responsible for his “most powerful moments”.

I won’t get into your remarks about Rumsfeld. “I do not think Rumsfield is capable of distinguishing his interests from that of the nation. He, no doubt, is convinced that they are one and the same.”…”Perhaps he's amoral, but that does not necessarily make him immoral.” These are matters that concern what is in the man’s heart. Things that neither you nor I can know. They can’t be confirmed or refuted. At least by you or me.

I will point out one thing. Rumsfeld isn’t the first and he won’t be the last, Republican or Democrat, to move freely between the private and public sector. Tom Daschle’s wife is a lobbyist. She routinely lobbied Congress on issues before it, while her husband was the majority leader. Was this a conflict of interest? Probably. It is one that almost every government official or former Congressman engages in at some point.

Regarding the Stalin-Saddam analogy. I don’t contest that the situations were different, but if you believe that some consistent thread should gird an argument, then you must believe that, as a general proposition, sometimes countries have to “deal with the devil” to protect their own national interests. If you accept that premise, then each decision as to which “devil we deal with” becomes a matter of judgment. Judgment that must made, of necessity, with imperfect information and without knowledge of the future. I contend that the decision to tilt towards Iraq was widely supported by all Americans, Democrat and Republican, and that Deomocrats who now attempt to bludgeon the Republicans with it are hypocritical. At the time, it was supported by all.

And as I posited above, it was inconsequential to Saddam’s power


Bill Heuisler - 12/21/2003

Kent,
Your unclothed and incorrect opinions continue to dominate.

For instance, the US didn't "go to war this past year."
The '91 Cease Fire was violated many times and the war renewed.
There was in fact a huge coalition to go to war, and only a lesser one to enforce UN sanctions - a telling point for the UN.

On lines 9, 14, 15, and 16 you wrote, "I firmly believe..." and "I do not think..." and "He , no doubt is convinced...".
with absolutely no facts or data to back up your statements.

Further you make ludicrous statements comparing WWII and the War on Terror. There is no comparison; the comparison is diplomatic and economic connections. Typically, you never address the detailed points on that subject made in my last post.

Finally, for you to make assumptions and draw conclusions without bothering to access sources on 9/11 and Iraq proves my point that further discussion with you is a waste of time.
Bill Heuisler


Kent - 12/21/2003


Bill and Steve,

One of the ongoing hazards of spirited debate is oversimplification. Steve correctly noted that numerous countries provided aid to Iraq, that the United States was not an exclusive agent in promoting the rise of Hussein. Many nations had a vested interest in Iraqi oil, and stable government in that country (no matter how brutal or how corrupt) facilitated those interests. The only reason I singled out the U.S. in this particular discussion is because it was the U.S. (and, to a slightly lesser degree) the British that were the most determined nations to go to war against Iraq this past year. Not the Danish, not the French, not the Russians.

As for Steve's remark concerning Rumsfeild, I firmly believe that when you're dealing with multinational corporations with global interests, the line between "public" and "private" for men like Rumsfeild has become so blurred as to be nonexistant. Rumsfield crossed from private corporate to political positions on several occassions between the mid-1960s and his "goodwill" mission to Iraq for the Reagan administration. I do not think Rumsfield is capable of distinguishing his interests from that of the nation. He, no doubt, is convinced that they are one and the same. Does this make him corrupt? No. Rumsfield is a man cut from the same mold as a Robert Morris and a John Sherman. Perhaps he's amoral, but that does not necessarily make him immoral. Using political power to advance personal interest in of itself is not a bad thing--unless it's taken to excess and threatens the greater good.

As for the Stalin-Saddam analogy: the U.S., Britiain, et al., were behind the rise of the Baathist government in Iraq, Hussein emerged from a variety of power struggles within the Baathist government emerging as the central strongman by the late 1970s. I can see a lot of similarity between this brief summation and the rise of Stalin--of course the U.S. and Britain were not behind the communist takeover of the Soviet Union in October 1917(Dave)--but Stalin did emerge from internal power struggles following the death of Lenin in 1924, emerging as the unquestioned leader of the Soviet Union by 1928.

The Stalin-Saddam analogy, then, works to the extent that both men were in power and if the U.S. had to deal with the Soviet Union in the 1930s in any capacity, they would have to deal with Stalin; the same holds true for Iraq in the 1980s. The problem I've been wrestling with in respect to the Stalin-Saddam analogy is that it seems to equate the geopolitical issues at stake during the Second World War to the Iran-Iraq War and the current situation in Iraq. To my mind, there is no comparison in that respect--to try to force one is an insult to those who fought in WWII, it trivializes the global situation in the 1930s and 1940s.

The recent war in Iraq is a manufactured war (note,I am NOT saying this about the current war in Afghanistan); it was not necessary; Hussein was contained--and that was the problem. As long as Hussein remained in power, the U.N. sanctions could not be removed. The only solution was remove Hussein, since he was obviously unwilling to depart voluntarily.

And Bill, I am an historian. Are you? Have you ever heard the saying "the devil is in the details"? Or, perhaps its more informal cousin: "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit"? I made note of Henry Dexter White, the documents you cited, and I will visit some of the websites on Salman Pak. Once I've finished, I'll look for you on HNN.

I hope you're still of the mind to read my book when it comes out later this month. I would be especially curious to learn your reaction to my interpretation of the larger forces shaping the decision for American independence and the Lee/Washington/Adams vs. Morris/Walpole/Leray dichotomy in relation to their competing interests during America's revolutionary era. If you would like to comment directly, let me know and perhaps we can find a way for me to give you my direct email address, I'm somewhat reluctant to post it on HNN.

My regards to both of you,

Kent


Kent - 12/21/2003


Dave,

Sarcasm, are you familiar with the concept. Read the full thread of postings in context. I was not in any way suggesting that the U.S. aided Khrushchev and Brezhnev.


Bill Heuisler - 12/21/2003

Kent,
You aren't really a history teacher, are you? Instead of doing reading or research, you simply add more baseless opinions.
You wrote, "We did not "trade extensively" with China until after Nixon's rappaproachment; we did not open significant commercial ties with the Soviet Union until Gorbachev."

No trade? No influence in the beginning? Try the truth, Kent.
Look up Harry Dexter White, FDRs Asst. Treasury Secretary. The founder of IMF and World Bank, he was finally exposed in the Venona Papers as a Communist spy known to the USSR as "Richard". During the Forties he was in charge of Credit and currency transfers to foreign governments. Convenient. White allowed the USSR and Red China to firm up Communist control by the use of American credit. Further, Harry Dexter White deliberately delayed a Congressionally authorized loan of 500 million to Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist Government. The rest is history. Inflation spiraled, Chiang Kai-Shek fell, Mao took over. Our government helped Mao Tse Tung into power. Senator Charles Potter (R MI) testified in a 1954 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "White bears major responsibility for the destruction of the Nationalist Government of China."
Look it up. It's history.

But you don't know much history do you, Kent? Have you ever heard of the Murmansk Run? Probably not. Arms, machinery, food and oil to Stalin before and during WWII. You know buzz words and accusations we can get in The Nation or the Guardian or the BBC. But this is a history site. Why do you write such easily disproved statements in support of such shallow politics?

After looking up Salman Pak and Murmansk Run try China + Harry Dexter White + FDR. You might want to read:
1). The economic situation in China during the mid-1930s. A memorandum from Harry Dexter White submitted to Henry Morgenthau, Jr. written in 1936, 44 pages.
2). Proposal for the "Extension of Credit to China" recorded in
a "first draft" by Harry Dexter White of a letter addressed to the President , October 10, 1938. And read an incomplete copy of a letter to FDR, October 17, 1938 (sent under the signature of Henry Morgenthau, Jr.).

Lastly. All the names and people I asked you to check can be easily found on Google. There are reference books, speeches, Committee transcripts, and hundreds of hits about Salman Pak.
I don't mean to be rude, but you're wasting everyone's time until you acquaint yourself with some real history.
Bill Heuisler


Steve BRody - 12/21/2003


Kent, if you really believe

“Saddam Hussein's rise to power is directly attributable to U.S. support; Hussein's most powerful moments were the direct result of the intervention on the part of members of the current administration.”,

then you need to specify what, exactly, was the nature of the intervention.

The Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish peace think tank, confirms that the US provided less weaponry to Iraq than did Denmark, about 1% of the total between 1973 and 2002. If you dig deeper, you find that most of the “weapons” were civilian helicopters. Russia and France supplied the overwhelming majority of weapons to Saddam.

It is often said that we “gave Saddam his chemical and biological weapons” The truth is that we provided him no chemical weapons. He was given biological samples under a CDC program to provided such samples for medical research. Many other countries also received these samples. This has been inflated to “we gave him his chemical and biological weapons”.

We did tilt towards Iraq during the Iraq/Iraq war, but what did this “tilt” amount to? Mainly targeting intel on Iranian targets. What was the alternative? The best thinking at the time, Democratic and Republican, was that Saddam would act as a bulwark against the Iranian fundamentalists. I honestly don’t remember any dissent from either party at the time. Most people, Democrat and Republican, were still so pissed about the hostage crisis that they applauded the tilt towards Iraq.

When you say, “Saddam’s rise to power is directly attributable to US support”, you make a very powerful statement. One that greatly overstates the case. Do you really believe that because Rumsfeld (a private citizen at the time, on a “goodwill mission” for Reagan) was photographed with Saddam that we became responsible for Saddam's rise to power?

Remember, Saddam began his rise to power in 1968. By the time Rumsfeld visited him, Saddam was well entrenched.

I think you dismiss the Stalin-Saddam analogy to quickly. If you believe that US aid (what little we gave) makes us responsible for Saddam’s evil, than how can you dismiss the much, much greater aid that we gave Stalin. Especially since Stalin formed a pact with Hitler and only came over to the Allies because Hitler reneged and attacked Russia? Didn’t we assist Stalin because we decided it would be in our national interest to? Even though he was an evil murdering dictator. Didn’t we help Saddam for the same reason?

As for the economy, hold on, buddy, help is on the way. Employment always lags economic growth. As the economy grows, employment will increase and you’ll get your raise. I suspect that you are rather young. Many young people have lived most of their adulthood under the Clinton Economy (kudos to Clinton). The amplitude and frequency of the normal economic cycle seems to have changed. Booms are higher and longer than they used to be. When I graduated from college, Carter was president. If you really want misery, try 7.5% unemployment, 13% inflation and 20% mortgage rates. They even invented a name for it: Stagflation. My point is this, the economy takes a while to get going, but when it does the jobs will come.



Dave Livingston - 12/20/2003



Some silly postings have been made on HNN, but to suggest, as Kent does, we provided military assistance to Khrushchev, the fellow whom J.F.K. bested during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to Brezhnev is an attempt for first place for goofy posting of the month. It was while Brezhnev was Chairman, CPSU, that we became involved in Afghanistan providing weapons, advice & intelligence to the Islamic types opposed to Soviet rule.


Dave Livingston - 12/20/2003



Because I traveled to the USSR, albeit only to Moscow & Leningrad for a mere couple of weeks, in 1964 confirmation of Bill Heuisler's contention that the USSR was an economic basket case is herewith offered. Fresh out of working for two years in West Africa the USSR was no beacon of advanced civilization, I preferred West Africa. Even better was the Helsinki where I stopped after Leningrad--that WAS a beacon of advanced civilization. The USSR was a dreary and miserable place. Although there wasn't a cop on every corner, it became evident that indeed it was a police state. And Aeroflot had a rotten reputation. But the Hermitage was nice. So was inside the Kremlin. Ever sionce that visit I've felt somewhat sorry for the Russian people for having had to endure that terrible system.

When before becoming President Boris Yelsin visited the U.S. he went to a supermarket in Austin, I think it was. He asked the store manger how many discrete items did the store stock. When the store manger said "30,00." Yelsin weas heard to say, "That's why they don't want us to come here." As I recall, someone asked him why he said that, he then said something to the tune of, "A well-stocked store in Moscow carries 300 items.


Kent - 12/20/2003


Bill,

Let me state again, FDR's relationship with Stalin during WWII in the war against Hitler is an inappropriate, borderline inaccurate analogy to the current situation involving the U.S. and Iraq. Apples and oranges.

We did not "trade extensively" with China until after Nixon's rappaproachment; we did not open significant commercial ties with the Soviet Union until Gorbachev.

Can you cite evidence of American involvement is staging Stalin's takeover of the Soviet Union in 1928, and then the United States making excuses for the 1936 purges? What about American involvement in Mao's takeover of China in 1949? The U.S. did aid and support Stalin during WWII, but how long did that last following Germany's defeat? How much military support did we provide Khrushchev? Brezhnev? Our relationship with Stalin is a classic example of taking in an uncomfortable bedmate to secure a larger, more important goal. Our problems with Iran in the late '70s and 1980s do not compare--and were secondary to the geopolitical/economic interests connected to Iraqi oil.

Let me ask you a question in earnest, give me a specific reading--newspaper, magazine, a journal article, an internet site, regarding Salman Pak that you would recommend for me to examine. And I will do so. Was there something the the Wall Street Journal I missed? Or Foreign Affairs? The National Review? The Washington Times? The Weekly Standard? Insight? Again, all I would ask, if possible, is that you direct me to something that was not featured on the editorial page--but, even that will work, there are several conservative columnists I read and respect--Buckley, Hoagland, Friedman (at least on his coverage of the current war), Safire. Is there a more recent book that you can suggest? Let me read what you've read.

I do not mean to sound like I am playing a game. I am eager to read more and dig deeper. Most of what I've heard and read regarding Salman Pak has come from right-wing idealogues who are more concerned about making excuses than seeking the truth about the situation. They take rumor and innuendo, report it as fact, and then keep repeating it. Left wingers do it as well, and I avoid them too.

I am not a "Bush-hater," and I stand corrected, my "scum" remark crossed the line; nor am I a "Hussien apologist." One of the major reasons I enjoy our exchanges is because we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and yet I do sense that there a lot we share in common.

I'll continue later. Friends have invited us to hear Handal's Messiah tonight. Take care,

Kent


Kent - 12/20/2003


Bill,

Let me state again, FDR's relationship with Stalin during WWII in the war against Hitler is an inappropriate, borderline inaccurate analogy to the current situation involving the U.S. and Iraq. Apples and oranges.

We did not "trade extensively" with China until after Nixon's rappaproachment; we did not open significant commercial ties with the Soviet Union until Gorbachev.

Can you cite evidence of American involvement is staging Stalin's takeover of the Soviet Union in 1928, and then the United States making excuses for the 1936 purges? What about American involvement in Mao's takeover of China in 1949? The U.S. did aid and support Stalin during WWII, but how long did that last following Germany's defeat? How much military support did we provide Khrushchev? Brezhnev? Our relationship with Stalin is a classic example of taking in an uncomfortable bedmate to secure a larger, more important goal. Our problems with Iran in the late '70s and 1980s do not compare--and were secondary to the geopolitical/economic interests connected to Iraqi oil.

Let me ask you a question in earnest, give me a specific reading--newspaper, magazine, a journal article, an internet site, regarding Salman Pak that you would recommend for me to examine. And I will do so. Was there something the the Wall Street Journal I missed? Or Foreign Affairs? The Washington Times? The Weekly Standard? Insight? Again, all I would ask, if possible, is that you direct me to something that was not featured on the editorial page. Is there a more recent book that you can suggest? Let me read what you've read.

I do not mean to sound like I am playing a game. I am eager to read more and dig deeper. Most of what I've heard and read regarding Salman Pak has come from right-wing idealogues who are more concerned about making excuses than seeking the truth about the situation. They take rumor and innuendo, report it as fact, and then keep repeating it. Left wingers do it as well, and I avoid them too.

I am not a "Bush-hater," and I stand corrected, my "scum" remark crossed the line; nor am I a "Hussien apologist." One of the major reasons I enjoy our exchanges is because we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and yet I do sense that there a lot we share in common.

I'll continue later. Friends have invited us to hear Handal's Messiah tonight. Take care,

Kent


Dave Livingston - 12/20/2003

Professor Khawaja,

Thank you for posting the url to the "Nation" essay. It has reconfirmed in my decision of a few months ago to cancel my subscription to that pathethic rag. But I did have a spot of fun with the magazine when Christopher Hitchins, twenty years a columnist for it, quit "The Nation." Now essays of Hitchins' points-of-view appear, albeit irregularly, in David Horowitz' "FrontPageMagazine.com"

It appears Hitchins has subscribed to Lord Chesterfield's admonishment, "The man of 16 who isn't a Liberal has no heart; the man of 60 who is a Liberal has no head."

The complaint about America's hubris is a bit less persuasive in light of Mommar Gadhafi's decision to scrap, verifiable by the U.S. & U.K., his WMD programs.

Now try to tell us that the conquering of Iraq was unwise & unbenefical for the sake of world peace. Ah, come on, belly-ache some more about the "unjust" war. Which really wasn't a stand-alone war at all, but rather a campaign in the war against Islamist terrorism.

As the man said, "Will the apologists for Saddam recant now?"

Now that Saddam is everyone's kicking boy, I'll put in a good word for him. Regardless whatever evil things Saddam did, he did at least one thing that was good: he protected the ancient but tiny Christian community from being destroyed by militant Islam.

The Chaldean Rite Catholic community of Iraq has existed since it was formed under the guidance of St. Thomas the Apostle, ole Doubting Thomas. It is beside the point that Saddam protected that community for political rather than compassionate or humane reasons. The most visible representative of the Chaldean Rite Catholic community was Tariq Aziz, once the Foreign Minister & then Deputy VP of Iraq.


Bill Heuisler - 12/20/2003

Kent,
I voted for President Bush and will do so again. Your calling him "scum" demeans you, not him.

You wrote:
"Here's a challenge. Focus on my claim that the was against the U.N. sanctions against the sale of Iraqi oil more so than anything else. Find a factually based answer to this,..."
Reread your words and find the question.

Now here's a challenge: read your own posts and do some research.

You asked: "Did the U.S. under the leadership of any American president "prop" up or arm the communist regime in China? Was FDR (or Hoover) the one responsible for Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union."
Kent, I shouldn't even have to write this to a history teacher, but most historians know we armed Stalin during WWII and traded extensively with both nations. Our involvement with Mao and Stalin was far greater than with Saddam.

You wrote:
"I was not saying that Hussein did not want nuclear weapons, and did not actively pursue the acquisition of such weapons."
Read (look up) the testimony of General Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and the man who ran Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological programs for ten years. Also, remember Osirak? where did the Iraqi reactor come from? Did it fall from heaven? After it was destroyed did the technology and staff just disappear?

You wrote:
"Granted, there was most likely a connection between Al Qaeda and Salman Pak, but what is your evidence of Hussein's connection to Salman Pak?"
Read (look up) Mukhabarat, Ansar al Islam, School 999, and the production of Ricin from castor beans. Now imagine Saddam Hussein was unaware of the existance of an Al Qaeda training camp run by his secret police on the Tigris River between Baghdad and Tikrit. The airliner? "It was a mock-up that Hussein set up to train men on how to retake a hijacked aircraft--most likely taken by those same fanatics at Salman Pak." Sure it was.
Why so eager to believe Saddam and to distrust our President?

The reason you should look these names and places up yourself is that you apparently don't believe me. Whatever. Arguing with the uninformed, but passionate, soon becomes very counterproductive.
Like I said before, your opinions are fine, but seem foolish when confronted with facts. Do some research and read your posts before you send them. Also, reexamine your reflexive hatred for President Bush. He deserves far better.
Bill Heuisler


Kent - 12/20/2003


Bill,

Here we go:

1. "Are Nixon and Kissinger's champaign toasts with the Chinese responsible for Tieneman? Is FDR responsible for "Uncle Joe's" atrocities? Of course not"

You're right, Nixon and Kissinger were not responsible for Tieneman Square and FDR was not responsible for Stalin atrocities. But Bill let's compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. We're Nixon and Kissinger responsible for the existance of the communist regime in China? Did the U.S. under the leadership of any American president "prop" up or arm the communist regime in China? Was FDR (or Hoover) the one responsible for Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union. Saddam Hussein's rise to power is directly attributable to U.S. support; Hussein's most powerful moments were the direct result of the intervention on the part of members of the current administration. We either made excuses for his atrocities or looked the other way, and are now trying to claim the moral authority to hold him accountable. You're are right, sometimes geopolitical reality dictates that we take uncomfortable bedmates, but in the case of Nixon/Kissinger and China and FDR and Stalin, check the history you know so well again, the events were in play before taking them into our beds. Not so with Hussein. Also, I am not some "lefty" who regurgitates--what is "Counterpunch"?--I'll defend Nixon's China policy, but not the scum in the current administration.

2. "It's telling you never mention 9/11....and the Al Qaeda training camp, Salman Pak, less than sixty miles from Hussein's Tikrit."

Why should I? What has 9/11 got to do with the war with Iraq? We've gone around about this. The claims regarding Atta's connections to Baghdad range from specious to after-the-fact fantasy. Granted, there was most likely a connection between Al Qaeda and Salman Pak, but what is your evidence of Hussein's connection to Salman Pak? Proximity, is that it? Islamists have long since had an interest in removing Hussein from power--most likely due to his connection to the United States and through that connection the threat he posed to Iran's fundamentalist regime. Also, I've read about the passenger airplane mock-up supposedly used as a 9/11 training ground--wrong. It was a mock-up that Hussein set up to train men on how to retake a hijacked aircraft--most likely taken by those same fanatics at Salman Pak. You need to get away from this Salman Pak fascination, it's a dead end. The similar analogy would be McVeigh and the Michigan Militia pre-Oklahoma City. The reality for Hussien and Salman Pak was simply that he did not have recognized authority in the region. To assert his authority there would essentially have been an act of war--forcing him to kill more of "his own people." Had he done something about Salman Pak, today you'd be pointing your finger at him saying "bad Hussein, baadd Hussein."

3. "Every member of the foreign policy cadre (including Hillary) in President Clinton's administration publicly acknowledged WMDs and an Iraq nuclear program. Democrat Chairman Rockefeller of Senate Intelligence Committee warned of just such a possibility."

Read my remarks again. I was not saying Hussein never had chemical and biological weapons; I was not saying that Hussein did not want nuclear weapons, and did not actively pursue the acquisition of such weapons. My comments were directed specifically at the rationale put forward by the current administration for the war we are now waging in Iraq. Bush and his cronies claimed that Hussein at this moment (i.e. post 9/11) had chem./bio. weapons and Cheney said, repeatedly, that Hussein had "reconstituted" his nuclear weapons program. So, what happened? Where are they? Hey, let's ask David Kay! Oh, he's gone. In an interview this week Bush had the audacity to claim that there is no difference between actually having a nuclear weapon and having the intent of acquiring such a weapon. What kind of standard is that?

3. "The economy is booming"??????????????????????????????????
Where? For whom? Is it the Christmas bubble you're referring to? Let's see what's going to happen in March 2004. Is is the Dow Jones Average passing 10,000? These are superficial, surface-level indicators. Look beneath the surface and you'll see a decaying corpse. People like me haven't seen a pay increase--not even a cost of living increase in three years. Yet, property taxes, state fees, insurance costs, have all increased. Jobs are being shipped overseas at record rates. Cite your evidence that the economy is booming.

4. "Your post is mostly opinion and shallow on facts. My enjoyment of HNN does not include fencing with nonsensical claims birthed on mouth-breathing Lefty web sites. You can do better."

I do better than it seems you're willing to give me credit for. Here's a challenge. Focus on my claim that the was against the U.N. sanctions against the sale of Iraqi oil more so than anything else. Find a factually based answer to this, I'd be impressed. And please "mouth-breathing Lefty web sites," I don't, nor have I ever been to these places. Don't visit right-wing sites either.

Please don't get too tired yet with this conversation. In spite of my occasionally caustic tone, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, your thoughts and ideas. If I'm am proven wrong, I'll be the first to admit it. What about you Bill, are you willing to do the same? I look forward to your reply.

Kent


Steve Brody - 12/20/2003


Oh, and one other thing, other Arab nations with WMD programs, like Libya, sees Saddam's fate and realize it's time to give them up.


Another victory in the war on terrorism.


C.R.W. - 12/20/2003


I know that and I'm sure the majority of them either have or will have figured it out before it's too late. But its not uncommon in a newly freed or independent country to have a whole political hodge podge of parties representing the entire spectrum spontaneously asserting themselves, regardless of size or appeal.

Hell, even in America you have vocal Communists.


Bill Heuisler - 12/19/2003

Kent,
This conversation has become tiresome. Too bad. Most of your claims are regurgitated pap from places like Counterpunch. You're a history profesor? You can do better than disproved claims and accusations. It's telling you never mention 9/11.

Anti Bush rants don't add to a discussion. Are Nixon and Kissinger's champaign toasts with the Chinese responsible for Tieneman? Is FDR responsible for "Uncle Joe's" atrocities? Of course not. It's called diplomacy and national interest.

You said, "...false claim that Hussein actually possessed WMD's to that he was seeking to reconstitute a program with the intent of at some point in the future of perhaps acquiring a nuclear weapon of some sort..." False? Every member of the foreign policy cadre (including Hillary) in President Clinton's administration publicly acknowledged WMDs and an Iraq nuclear program. Democrat Chairman Rockefeller of Senate Intelligence Committee warned of just such a possibility. Do you know more? Look things up before making foolish statements.

You also say, "he has eviscerated the national economy, and he has launched a war that has no end--a war against terrorism?? How's that going to ever end?"

More nonsense. The economy is booming. Remember 9/11? Note Atta's connections to Baghdad and the Al Qaeda training camp, Salman Pak, less than sixty miles from Hussein's Tikrit. Would you be happier if the US ignored two decades of Islamist attacks?

Your post is mostly opinion and shallow on facts. My enjoyment of HNN does not include fencing with nonsensical claims birthed on mouth-breathing Lefty web sites. You can do better.
Bill Heuisler


Elia Markell - 12/19/2003

Big Bill Haywood,

"The working class"? "the dust bin of history"? "screw the poor"? Do you actually see the world this way when you walk down the street or catch a show, or do these phrases just sort of pop out on automatic pilot all on their own? It's hard for me to believe anyone thinks such conceptual tools are anything other than the mental equivalents of the chips of stone hunters once used to scrape down the hides of their prey. I am sorry, these terms do NOT describe anything at all. Period. Joe Hill died, and he is not coming back -- even in your dreams.


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/19/2003

Well gee, Mr. Haywood, I never said thr studios were out there making straight-up Communist propaganda, did I? But you're going to deny that much of what passes for political commentary in Hollywood is social democratic and anti-business? Ever seen "Erin Brockovitch"?

I don't claim "persecution", Mr. Haywood. I'm not anyone's victim. I'm merely stating that in the contest between the market and the State, the news media, the mainstream entertainment media, and the Democratic Party (if not both parties), generally come down hard in favor of the State. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.


dave levy - 12/19/2003

Communism is Totalitarianism. It just has a different name.


dave levy - 12/19/2003

Mr. Haywood,


I hate the quote and respond “response,” but it has been awhile, so I will refresh memories in this manner.

“Also in your responses you have not even touched upon the topic of national soverignty. South Korea is an occupied nation, and has been for half a century. Politically, South Korea is a puppet of the United States. North Korea (even considering the bankruptcy of the Stalinist beauracracy) is no one's puppets--not even the Chinese can control them. This is the sort of intangible fact that numbers cannot capture.”

Kim Jong Il and his military might not be puppets, but they sure pull the strings of the North Korean people. The massive gulag archipelago filled with political prisoners and their families, Christians, etc. renders N. Korea illegitimate in my eyes. The sovereignty you speak of belongs only to Kim Jong Il and his ilk. The N. Koreans are slaves. You, Mr. Haywood, are an apologist for the totalitarian misery inflicted on the people of N. Korea, and I do not think you possess a more “developed moral sensibility” through your justification of such atrocity for the sake of your utopian idea. Intermittent exhortations that you “do not support the North Korean Stalinist bureaucracy” do nothing to better your moral stature with most.

I reject your characterization of S. Korea as a puppet. S. Koreans elect their own leaders-as a matter of fact, as you know, their president Roh Moo Hyun (I probably butchered that) was elected on a slightly anti-American platform. He received 2% more votes than his challenger, who was very pro American. Both, however, agreed on the need to maintain an American presence in S. Korea. However, if asked to leave, we will. I don’t think we will be asked. Now, let me ask you, champion of the people, if Kim Jong Il is asked to leave by “his people”, will he? Who is the puppet?

The crowning jewel of your argument seems to be that the upper 10% of South Korea controls 25 % of the economy. With a big yawn I say “so?” Why? First, to paraphrase: the day laborer in our capitalistic countries fares better than a king in your socialist countries. This basically restates what I said a couple of days ago, and what Mr. Brody clarified. The poorest 10 percent of S. Korea accounts for close to the same amount of capital as the entire population—including the commie elites—of N. Korea. Second, income inequality is a far lesser crime than the crimes committed by those for whom you apologize. This is not to say that income inequality is not a problem in capitalistic countries. But the answer to the problem lies within the existing framework, not in some sort of overhaul I imagine you would suggest.


“Capitalism is based upon the acceptance of injustice..” Blah blah. Listen the vast majority of us college folks hear your type of ’68 rhetoric and yawn. It feels not only old and empirically flawed but somewhat pathetic. Your arguments are the equivalent of a balding man combing that last strand of hair across his head. Oh how he combs, ever more vigorously, even angrily. But the truth is we all look at him and see that he is bald. You, Mr. Haywood, are balder than George Costanza.

P.S. I will not defend North Korea’s right to nuclear weapons. That is your position, not mine.


Hugh High - 12/19/2003

Mr. Haywood,

In your sober and scholarly contribution here, you neglected to add,at your conclusion,some other stirring words such as "worker of the world ....." or similar. Perhaps a verse from the Internationale would have added more colour.

I should have thought rhetoric would be better delivered, and received,in other fora. As YOU have otherwise written : "This is supposed to be a forum for people with some knowledge of history" and not a forum for political exhortations and opinion.


Hugh High - 12/19/2003

Mr. Haywood,

In response to an earlier note from me, in which I made note of the importance of the Black Death in changing the age structure of the population, the supply of labor, and thus wage rates,you, presumptively in an attempt to be smug, questioned whether I am in the correct forum and then noted that : "This is supposed to be a forum for people with some knowledge of history." -- this in an none-too-transparent attempt to suggest my knowledge of history is wanting.

Now, this suggests to me that you (a) don't think the Black Death/plague of the 14th- early 17th centuries occurred, i.e.it is not an historical event; or
(b) you are ignorant and unaware of its occurrence ; or
(c) you think it is of no significance historically (and certainly as regards any effects on wage rates and inducing people into a 'wage economy' , which was your initial assertion and that to which I was responding.)

Could you enlighten me as to which of the above is the case ?


Garry Perkins - 12/19/2003

The Matrix had a variant of this theme. So did the Star Wars trilogy.


Garry Perkins - 12/19/2003

William Haywood,

Your views disturb me. The line "the PRC liberated that land from the backward, violent, and superstitious" non-Han races is the same bullshit line European imperialists used to colonize the world. If you want to meet the most racist people on earth, talk to Chinese communists in Chinese. I hear the same thing about Vietnamese reds, but I cannot confirm it because I do not speak Vietnamese. Neither did most of the victims of Viet tyranny. The Cham, Hmong, and Montagnards were also to "backward" to live among the racially "superior" Viet.

The greatest problem with American Marxists tends to be their failure to see that thugs with guns used Marxism as a hoax to conceal their hyper-nationalist policies. Mao was a racist thug who wished to destroy all non-Han culture and language. Ho was even worse. There are no backward races or cultures. No language or way of life is better than any other. All Americans feel that shame of our ancestors' actions against our continent's native populations. Chinese and Vietnamese lack this shame for their recent, continuing racist, imperialist actions. Taiwanese are finally coming to terms with their own history of oppression regarding their aboriginal populations. Those counter-revolutionaries have a free press, universal healthcare, free elections, and a lively political culture as well. They also have no laws against fee trade unions, unlike China, where most trade union leaders were executed or re-educated in the 1950's.

We should all hope that Iraq will be more like Taiwan, and less like Maoist China. The world needs more open, peace-loving societies, not less. If the capture of Saddam brings us closer to the day American troops come home and Iraqis rule their own land with tolerance and openness, then we should all be happy. Right now it is too soon to know.


William Haywood - 12/19/2003

Dear Scott Burgess,

This is not the most stringent of analyses, but I use it show the infintesimal differences that sepparate the Republican Party from the Democratic Party in the United States.
The wealthy in the United States are divided into two camps: the intelligent and the honest. The intelligent wealthy are members of the Democratic Party; they understand that a few crumbs have to be kicked to the poor every once in a while to keep capitalism opperating. The honest wealth are in the Republican Party; they simply say screw the poor how can we get more money.
The working class of this country needs to throw both parties into the dust bin of history and sieze power on its own.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


William Haywood - 12/19/2003

Dear Jesse Lamovsky,

I am trying to recal the last time that I saw a movie or even a television show that called for the destruction of capitalism and the building of a worker's state here in the United States. Maybe you could suggest a few.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


William Haywood - 12/19/2003

Dear Hugh High,

I really begin to wonder if you are really at the right web-site. This is supposed to be a forum for people with some knowledge of history.
The Black Death? If you need some sort of example of how violence was necessary for forcing peasants into a capitalist system, just look up the "enclosure movement" in the United Kingdom. The Black Death?

Sincerely,
William Haywood


William Haywood - 12/19/2003

Dear Steve Brody and Hugh High,

I want to make it clear that I am not an apologist for the degenerate Stalinist beauracracy that eventually came to control the USSR and the other deformed workers states of the twentieth century--but I am not afraid to defend the gains made in the various social revolutions that occurred around the globe after 1917. I know that the distinction is hard understand for the unrefined thinker.
As for Hugh High and his typically inane pot-shots. I seem to recall that there was a rather large power-outage this year on the east coast of the United States. Only a lazy thinker would try to say that the outage was some sort of indication of the general failings of capitalism.
Now for all of this capitalist triumphalism with the fall of the USSR. The class struggle continues wherever there is class conflict--AND THAT IS EVERYWHERE.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


Kent - 12/19/2003


Bill,

Where do I begin? Ever hear about reaping what you sow? What about the golden rule, you know treating others as you wish to be treated?

In another place and another time your sentiments would be right on the mark, but that is not the case in today's world. While what we're doing in Iraq is certainly improving the lives of some, that is not true for the whole and from that latter group we're breeding another generation of terrorists hell bent on killing Americans or those who appear to be sympathetic/ supportive toward Americans. But, heck, don't fret conviviality, right?

One of the major sources of my frustration with the current administration is how rapidly they've changed the Iraq story from false claim that Hussein actually possessed WMD's to that he was seeking to reconstitute a program with the intent of at some point in the future of perhaps acquiring a nuclear weapon of some sort (maybe). Did you note yesterday David Kay's quiet exit as leader of the WMD search team? Hmmm.

Then, as it turns out, it was not about WMD's at all, it was that Hussein was such a bad guy he had to be taken out. Like, that was news? Who created this monster in the first place? In my initial post for this round I noted how the hypocrisy sickened me and you responded that I should look beyond RR's administration. I agree, but the reason I limited my focus to the past 20 years is because in this instance we're dealing with the same crowd: Rumsfield shaking hands with Hussein, delivering the agents for chemical and biological weapons, G. H. W. Bush/Cheney looking the other way when Hussein gassed the Kurds, providing the helicopter gunships that were used to gun down Shiites in southern Iraq after the first Persian Gulf War. Now these same guys are pointing their fingers at Hussein saying how bad he is, that he deserves the "ultimate justice." Aren't you bothered just a little bit by all of this?

We can comb over each one of these events and note a rational or justification for each of these events. In 1988, Hussein having to contend with a Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq where, perhaps he was most vulnerable to an attack from Iran. An unacceptable situation for Hussein as well as the U.S.; solution gas the Kurds with American technology and ingenuity. A Shiite uprising in 1991 (encouraged by U.S. rhetoric ala Hungary in 1956), resulting in the slaughtering Sunni Muslims. What, standby and do nothing? Let Hussein do all by himself--nope, his military hardware was in shambles. If he was going to do it, he would need some new equipment. Solution, have the U.S. provide the gunships that would be used to slaughter the Shiites so that the slaughter of the Sunnis would end. Now, who in the hell do we think we are to demand that Hussein be held "accountable"?

The war in Iraq was never about WMD's, it was never about Hussein, it was always about the geopolitical/strategic/economic benefits Iraq provided the U.S. When it was convenient, we sponsored the "Butcher of Baghdad," we stood quietly in the corner sharpening his knives as he plunged them into another victim; we cleared the dirt while he was digging the mass graves
--when it served our interests. Then came the invasion of Kuwait, Hussein's antagonism of our even "dearer friends" the Saudis, and he was no longer as convenient as he was once before. This is the sort of hypocrisy that sickens me the most.

There were still benefits to be derived from Iraq, but the nasty U.N. sanctions got in the way of exploiting them. Did you see the Nightline report a little over a year ago that showed taped footage of a Halliburton meeting with Cheney presiding talking about ways to circumvent the U.N. sanctions? The enemy in March 2003 was not Hussein, but the United Nations, the U.N. sanctions against Iraq specifically--that has to be made absolutely clear. By taking out Hussein, the sanctions could be lifted--which almost immediately followed the pulling down of Hussein's statue in Baghdad. Then, once there was at least a semblance of political stability, no matter how superficial, Iraq's debt had to be settled (enter James Baker III, stage right).

It is for these same reasons that the current administration is only willing to accept international support in Iraq on our terms, we bribe the lesser nations, and hammer the more influential ones. But, heck, don't fret about conviviality!!

How long do you think the U.S. can get away with this sort of game. How long do you think it will before the American economic bubble will burst. The current administration does not have the best interests of America at heart. What they've done is confused the best interests of Halliburton, and Bush's energy buddies with the best interests of the nation. It saddens me to see how many people, yourself included apparently, have fallen for it.

How did you feel about the Medicare package that passed recently? Were you as appalled by it as I was? $400 billion!!! Perhaps we oppose it for different reasons, but what it clearly illustrates is that this administration will pull out all stops to get the votes, to get the campaign contributions to win in 2004, the long term interests of the nation be damned. He has eviscerated the national economy, and he has launched a war that has no end--a war against terrorism?? How's that going to ever end?

As for your comment that "we are the bedrock of civilization," perhaps we have that potential, but we're squandering it. At the moment however, if your comment is true, civilization is in pathetic condition.

Kent


Steve BRody - 12/19/2003


Irfan, I may not have made myself clear. I don’t dispute that we should be responsible for the support that we provided to Saddam. It is my contention that we provided little support to Saddam. I also contend that we have provided NO support to Saddam for over 13 years.

The Stockholm Peace Institute web site firmly establishes that we provided no significant conventional weapons to Iraq.

You assert that we helped Iraq to acquire the means to produce chem weapons. I’ve often heard this charge, but never seen it documented. Can you provide any evidence of this?
What has been established is that Iraq obtained bio samples in the 80’s through a CDC program to provide such things to many countries for med research. This fact is often inflated to make the suggestion that we provided “biological and chemical weapons” to Iraq. An exaggeration of the facts, in my opinion.

As for “cozying up” to Iraq, all I can say is that at the time, I remember being glad that we were, because of the bitterness that I, and many other Americans I suspect, felt towards Iran. The official justification was that Iraq was useful as a bulwark against “Islamic Fundamentalism”.

I suppose the real issue is whether this “cozying up” was significant in changing the outcome of the Iran/Iraq war. (I would argue that it was not) and further, whether we would have been better off if Iraq had fallen during the Iran/Iraq war. That is impossible to answer.

I can appreciate your desire to “protect your sources” concerning Saddam’s CIA connection, but let me make one thing clear. Said Aburish has made the charge that the CIA assisted in a Baathist coup that resulted in the assassination of Abdal Qassim. This may or may not be true. What is indisputable is that at the time of the coup, Saddam was not even in Iraq. What is also true is that the Baathist held power for only a short time, before being ousted. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Baathist returned to power, without any CIA assistance.

Is there ever any “statute of limitations” on responsibility for assistance to a brutal dictator like Saddam? I say there must be, although don’t ask me to specify a time period.
I guess it depends on the nature and extent of the support. I believe that for the little support that we provided, that “statute” has expired.


Hugh High - 12/19/2003



But the lights were already out in those failed (read : all ) communist governments, often literally, and invariably figuratively.

[ There is a great article from some years back in, of all places, the National Geographic which shows the beauty of much of the then eastern Soviet Union. And, the spectacular pictures show the environmental degrodation in cities and other places as a result of the absence of property rights. MOREOVER, there is, in the article, a section about a city in Siberia where all the heating is centrally dispensed -- with the predictable results that, when the city's central heating unit failed, all in the city were without heating -- and in the winter in Siberia. Ah, central planning, socialism, and other romantic notions. ]


Steve Brody - 12/19/2003


Hey, will the last unrequited apologist for failed Communist governments please turn out the lights when he leaves?


Hugh High - 12/19/2003


Obviously people will differ, but I thought the statement to Saddam when the soldier captured him, was quite clever and droll -- and should have well and truly reminded him that he was now a prisoner of the US government [ although, more recent reports suggest he still deludes himself that he is President of Iraq -- very reminiscent of Nazi officials upon their capture who were very slow in coming to the full appreciation of the fact they were prisoners,and had no power over anything any longer, including when they ate. One hopes his captors will quickly bring this truth home to Saddam, although , to quote John Major, I weap no tears for this tyrant. )

I think the soldier should get a "comedian of the year" award, or something similar. Certainly if I but know how to do so, I would congratulate him.

Hugh High


David Hulbert - 12/18/2003

Imagine yourself one of the 25 or so Special Forces men-or a member of the 4th Infantry Division's 600 troopers who participated in this operation-a dragnet in hostile and chaotic territory.Imagine yourself as the single SOF team member who pushed aside the light inside the bunker and saw the old bearded men,frightened initially at seeing the troopers'grenade launcher.Imagine asking the old man his name,and an answer in English:"Saddam Hussein".

What do you say to the world's most infamous dictator turned fugitive?I'd like to think I'd think of something more original than "the president sends his greetings"--but that's what the trooper said.More to the point-you are now one of the most unlikely and adventurous of American citizens.You can look in the mirror and say:'My God-I captured a dictator'.

This is what struck me about this thrilling story-not the merits of the Iraqi invasion,or whether or not Hussein truly amassed an arsenal of WMD that threatened us.Those are still legitimate questions we must debate-but this story stands on its own for what it is.The result of perseverence and old-fashioned detective work.The target was caught-a dictator who went from the plushest choice of castles to a 'spider hole'bunker in a mud hut.The men of the 4th Division's combat team and the SOF team have had the ultimate wartime experience.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/18/2003

Steve,

I wasn't endorsing every last detail of Cole's article, but I do endorse the general point he was making. That's why I said "I don't entirely disagree..."

I don't at all dispute that other countries (France, Russia,
Jordan, etc.) bear more of a responsibility than we do; my point was that that doesn't erase our responsibility for what we ended up doing. I have no problem with scrutiny brought to bear on other countries' involvement. I would be glad to see it.

On CW/BW, I think you're missing the point, and doing so in a mirror-image of the way that contemporary peaceniks do when they say that "no weapons have turned up in Iraq." To respond to them first: While it's true that no weapons have been found, it doesn't follow that there was no weapons threat; if there was a capacity for weapons-production, there was a threat. To respond to you: while we may not have sold Iraq weapons per se, we helped them acquire a capacity for weapons-production, so there is an important relation between what we did and what they had.

On cozying up: I don't understand why it was necessary for us to cozy up to either the Ayatollah or Saddam. That relates to the point I make just below.

On Stalin during WW II: I'd say two things. First, our support for Stalin didn't make us complicitous in his crimes (the worst of them were over), but that is because the contexts are hugely different. We "cozied up" to Stalin because we had no other choice to defeat the Axis, and we had no choice BUT to defeat the Axis. Neither thing is true w/r/t Saddam. There was no great imperative about cozying up with him. (Note also that the worst of Saddam's crimes took place DURING our cozying up to him, which is slightly different than the Stalin case.)

Second, in my view, FDR was far TOO cozy with Stalin. It is one thing to ally with someone out of dire military necessity while keeping him at arm's length; it's another thing to whitewash the crimes of such an ally, as the Democrats did.

My source for Saddam's being on the CIA payroll is someone with intimate inside knowledge of the issue. But since I can't expect you to take that on faith, and I can't reveal the name, I'll just say that the claim you ascribe to Aburish is sufficient for my purposes. Even if he wasn't on the CIA's payroll in the literal sense, they were supporting him for a long, long time. They aren't denying THAT, and no one is talking about it. Cole is right to draw attention to it. Anyway, I see his general point as being complementary to mine, not contradictory of it.


Hugh High - 12/18/2003

Mr. Lamovsky,

As I have earlier observed, you are consistently a voice of reason,logic, and civility. This is all too rare, but definitely appreciated. My thanks.

Hugh High


Hugh High - 12/18/2003

Mr. Brown,

Despite your assertion that guns/violence were important vehicles "to force peasants off their land and into the wage economy all over the world.", I think you will find , on a more careful reading, that demographic changes, such as those which occurred as a result of the Black Death (for but one example) and/or other similar events which changed the existing order of things, as Everett Hagan demonstrated approximately 40 years ago, and/or other catalysmic events which altered the age/sex distribution of populations have had a vastly greater effect in inducing people into a wage economy.
Violence is not really very useful to induce behaviour, and it is very costly , as the Soviets, etc. found out. To paraphrase House Speaker Sam Rayburn ( dec. ) , it is easy to force people to do things, but damn costly to keep them forced.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Mr. High,

Your contention that guns (or violence) aren't necessary to make people participate in the market is ahistorical. That was exactly what was needed to force peasants off their land and into the wage economy all over the world.


Hugh High - 12/18/2003

Mr. Perkins,

You have made many of the points I would have made had I taken the time ; and I do appreciate you taking the time to do so. That said, I suspect that, despite the over-whelming evidence that, invariably, socialist/non-market economies serve only to assist the "New Classes" who and, to use the phrase of the economist, 'rent seekers' writ large, and retain political power via , ultimately, the bullet (and prison and other devices of coercion ) socialists True Believers will not bother to carefully read, or contemplate, what you have said nor re-consider their positions. It is interesting that one of the great oxymorons is "democratic socialism". I have often asked students (a) if they have ever been confronted by a shop keeper wielding a gun and been compelled to make a purchase -- trying to point out, of course, that free market trades are, inherently, voluntary and thus make both parties better off, whereas those done unde the compulsion of the state are, inherently non-voluntary; and (b) have asked if anyone can name any of John Rockefeller's descendents -- the obvious point here is that, once upon a time, people throughout the world knew of John Rockefeller, just as they do today Bill Gates . Yet, with the passage of time, and the dynamics of a free-market, capitalist society, Rockefeller's family has become relative "small fry" and their inheritances dissipated and diminished immensely , reflecting the fact that in a free-market economy, people will give you their monies if and only if you do something for them in turn. A dynamic economy if a vastly better and more efficient income re-distribution machine than is government and a tax system.

So, while you have tried to render Haywood, Brown and others a service, I fear it will not do a lot of good. Nonetheless, you (like a few others here ) have my congratulations for attempting to add a measure of logic and reason to this forum.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Well, I must not have been clear enough, then. From what I've read of your posts it makes a great deal of difference to you which of capital's parties is calling the shots at the moment. My point is there's little difference between the two. The Democrats are more dangerous in that they rob the working class of its political independence. Republicans don't even pretend to care about the workers.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

All the hue and cry over deregulation, etc. is not a critique of capitalism, it's just a desire to see the trains run on time. Regulating capital isn't meant to abolish it, it's meant to prevent its stupidest excesses in order to stabilize it. TR and FDR understood this too well. Even nationalizing key industries has been done many times within a capitalism system.


David - 12/18/2003


I'm by no means a communist. In fact I have utter contempt for that failed ideology. But I must admit your analysis of this issue is spot on.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Mr. Perkins,

The question is not whether America is a "horrible place," it is whether unemployment, homelessness, poverty (however "deeply flawed" these categories may be) are acceptable in the richest country in the world. I say no.

Immigrants come to the USA not because they like the air but for economic opportunities or because of political persecution. Remove poverty and inequality and brutal governments from their countries and they won't need to come here. But it is not in the interest of the US ruling class and the state that serves it to promote economic or political justice in those subordinated countries. That would jeopardize billions of dollars of US interests.

Taiwan has benefited from the breathing room that the Cold War has given it. The ROC has been able (to a degree) to institute social programs that would be impossible if it did not constitute a US-backed threat to China. The US has poured billions into South Korea to destabilize the DPRK. Neither of these countries developed independently or as "democracies." They developed as cheap reservoirs of labor for US markets that needed military dictatorships to keep their workers in line. Much like the deformed workers state in the PRC today. Singapore remains a straight-out dictatorship.

As I'm sure you are aware, despite Stalinist misrule living standards in the DPRK compared very favorably to those of the ROK for decades. Counterrevolution in the USSR brought disastrous consequences for workers throughout the world but especially its allies.

Any measure that improves workers' living standards (quantitatively) should be supported. But only worker-led revolution can put workers in control of their own destiny (qualitative change).


Bill Heuisler - 12/18/2003

Kent,
Senator Moynihan decried unnecessary secrecy, not unused intel.
DPM did not believe the USSR was a hollow shell militarily back to the mid-1940s. He believed otherwise, if you research his Senate votes to strengthen our forces in Germany and his many votes in favor of the progressive ABM systems. He knew the USSR was in fact an infantry and mechanized giant whose forces were massively poised to invade Germany and whose nuclear arsenal was subject to fearful conjecture, not certainty.

Any traveler to the USSR from the 50s to the 80s knew the USSR was an economic basket-case - cigarettes, apartments, plumbing, drunken construction workers, Zins falling apart, food shortages during harvest season.

But we chose not to act on that economic "intelligence" because of the specter/chance of land war in Europe or at the Amur River (after Nixon's rapproachment with the Chinese). We avoided war because, even with a half-crippled economy, the USSR used a greater percent of its GNP on their military than the US or Germany. There was no massive intelligence failure in the macro sense that would've allowed a relatively easy war. There were lesser failures of a political sense (anti-ABM, pro-harvest, pro-Andropov) that allowed the John Browns of the world to sneer at the US, caution ABM Hawks and assure us of Soviet benevolence.

As to "alienating half of the world" while tending our self interests you could've said the same thing in 1939 and have been just as wrong for all the same reasons. We were attacked many times in the last two decades by the same enemy. Imagine Nazis sank ships, blew up barracks and bombed the WT center (first time) in the thirties. US national interests, BTW, are the national interests of the industrialized world. If we fail, they all - France and Germany too - fail. Interdependence works both ways. If Boss Hog dies, Islamist wolves won't sort us all out, they'll eat everyone and then begin to feed on themselves. We are Civilization's bedrock; we cannot fret about conviviality.

Your book will be next on my list. I'm in the midst of McCullough's, John Adams and Ferguson's The Pity of War. Both are formidable, but intensely rewarding. Two weeks.
Best, Bill


Jesse Lamovsky - 12/18/2003

"Anyone (in the U.S.) who rejects the notion that capitalism is the high point of human history or asserts that a better order is possible is dismissed as the lunatic fringe."

Well, I don't think that's true. Just spend time on any college campus to find out what the vast majority of people there feel about what they see as "capitalism". Or recall what happened after this summer's blackout, on which just about every politician and media flack, in a knee-jerk fashion, blamed de-regulation of the energy industry. Or the media-inspired jihad against Martha Stewart, for that matter.

I would suggest that there is actually an anti-capitalist bent to the mainstream media. Certainly to the Democratic Party, and to Hollywood as well.



William Haywood - 12/18/2003

Dear Gary Perkins,

I can see that you are a liberal, and that we both can agree that our current president is clearly a step towards fascism. But liberals and Marxists have many points of disagreement, despite what many ultra-conservatives might think.

What is going on today in the PRC is not an improvement, it is counterrevolution. The current Stalinist bureaucracy of the PRC is slowly stripping away all of the gains of the Chinese Revolution. You talk about "labor rights". Any "labor rights" that the Chinese workers might have today are the product of the Chinese Revolution. Further capitalist penetration will not improve those rights, it will take them away.

As for your discussion of "oppressed nations". There was an element of Greater Russian arrogance within the USSR, but there were no "oppressed nations". Take a look at Georgia today. A recent NY Times article described how the people of Georgia have no electricity or heat. All of their neighbors refuse to sell them oil--this sort of repression of one nation by another did not exist in the USSR. Under the Soviet government the people of Georgia received free heat and electricity. There are "oppressed" nations today in the region, but none existed under the Soviets.

As for Taiwan--that island is the Miami of Asia. It is a basition of corrupt, counterrevolutionaries. You may not appreciate my love of statistics but perhapse others might. In Taiwan the wealthiest 10% of the population controls 41.1% of the nation's household income or consumption (I think that this is a pretty good definition of wealth).

As for Tibet, one of the favorite causes of Liberals in the United States, the PRC liberated that land from the backward, violent, and superstitious rule of the Dali Lama and his monkish followers. Health care and universal education are the hallmarks of the PRC's oppressive rule in Tibet.

I hope that I am not being to harsh in my words. I have a great affection for liberals (I do not have the same affection for conservatives), but I have a hope that one day the greatest fears of the Republican Party might come to pass--that all of the Liberals in the United States might "go communist".

Sincerely,
William Haywood


Garry Perkins - 12/18/2003

John Brown,

Numbers are relative, that's all. America's poverty is disturbing, but that does not mean America is a horrible place. Many people will do anything to wash dishes here for minimum wage. On can see that the average standard of living here is better than Mexico. Just as one can see that the average standard of living in the ROK is better than in the DPRK.

Also, your three categories are deeply flawed. One would not want 0% unemployment. That means no one is allowed to quit. That is tyranny.

0% homelessness is a cheap, achievable goal, but it is doubtful that it would be constitutional. Most homeless people need treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues. Families are only turned away from housing programs when they are full. They are usually full of men with serious problems. These men usually refuse treatment. Can we force them into programs that they need? Can we institutionalize men against their will? I say yes, but our government disagrees.

As for poverty, the definition is key. Is poverty defined by a flat income amount, or a percent of the average income. If it is the former, then it can be easily remedied by modest welfare payments. This should be done immediately. Unfortunately, most policy analysts like to define poverty by using a percentage of average income. This means that the poor will always be with us. It also means that a society must completely change its distribution of income to reduce poverty. This is extremely expensive and probably impossible in a democracy.

In general, radical demands involving the distribution of income prevent modest policy in eradicating poverty. Radical ideas get men like Bush elected. Radicals in power impoverish nations like the DPRK. Men like Saddam Hussein come to power by exploiting the fear of radicals. Most of our so-called allies in the Middle East hold their power using the same line. I only wonder why radicals enjoy hate and pain and suffering so much.


C.R.W. - 12/18/2003


That was an awesome reply, BTW. "International law?! You'd better go ask my lawyer about that. They never said anything about violating international law." LOL


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Hugh, you're a True Believer yourself, though you may not know it. The limits of dissent in the US are about 3 degrees to the left or right of the White House. Anyone who rejects the notion that capitalism is the high point of human history or asserts that a better order is possible is dismissed as the lunatic fringe.


Garry Perkins - 12/18/2003

Big Bill,

I am amazed by your fascination in what percent of a population own what percent of "wealth." I do not quite understand the idea of "wealth," but it appears to be irrelevant. What matters is what people get to eat, and how they live. Nations such as the ROK, Singapore, and Taiwan have clearly done something amazing. Their people live well. I have visited almost all of the nations in East Asia (I just got back from Taiwan yesterday), and I can safely say that free markets do in fact give people more to eat and better places to live. In Taiwan it even gives universal health care.

Taiwan's menacing Imperialist, the PRC, is a case in point. Even though the current regime a long way to go in labor rights, the average worker is still eating more and living in better conditions. Their slow transition to markets has worked far better than the shock therapy of the USSR. There are many supposed explanations for this, but the progress in living standards of the Chinese (Han) people is clear.

The mention of race (Han) is also very valuable. The Tibetans, Mongols, Uhigars, and other ethnic minorities would love to have the freedom and wealth of Estonians. The liberation of oppressed nations is definitely one great gain of the Soviet Union's demise. China will never give up their colonial possessions. They may even acquire some new ones. Our fascist of a President is encouraging them now. He would rather meet with a men who enjoy massacring ethnic minorities and labor activists than the freely elected president of Taiwan.


Hugh High - 12/18/2003



I confess to complete amazement at your assertions, statements, and conjectures. ( I could, of course, go on, but think my time better spent alternatively since you have some implicit assumptions undergirding your statements which would take a long itme to refute ; and my time can be spent more productively. )

I am always intrigued by Marxists, and other True Believers.


William Haywood - 12/18/2003

Dear Hugh High,

35,000 to 45,000 troops are a lot of soldiers, and Korea is a rather peaceful nation with a compliant, puppet government.
The current administration would like to believe that they can pacify Iraq, a nation at war, with 100,000+ troops.

The US does not need the same number of troops in South Korea, because the South Korean police and the South Korean military do a lot of the work for their imperialist masters. The United States would eventually like to see a similar situation in Iraq.

I do not think that that is ever going to happen.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


William Haywood - 12/18/2003

Dear Hugh High,

I must agree with John Brown; your posting is an example of the moral bankruptcy and absurdity of economics as today practiced in American universities. It has so lost its rational explanatory powers that I do not think that it even deserves to be considered a part of the "Liberal Arts" anymore.

Now lets get right to an idea that seems to be at the heart of your posting (and one also might say the heart of your self-dillusion): "there is ample room for changes in the distribution of income and wealth". Have your forgotten inheritence. The Bush administration seeks to eliminate all laws that tax or restrict inheritence. With lax inheritence laws, income stays within one family: there is no "ample room for changes in the distribution of income and wealth".

Now for one of your more callous assertions: "that...12.7 % of the population is in poverty...is of little policy implication" This fact may mean nothing to boosters of capitalism such as yourself--it certainly means nothing to the current President of the United States. But I am sure that this fact means a whole hell of a lot to the 12.7% of the population struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Also, I am glad that you mentioned the European economies that have a more regulated brand of Capitalism than the United States. Many liberals point to the social-democracies of Western Europe as examples of how capitalism can provide for all. Let us look more closely at one of these "successful" social democracies: Sweden. Of the capitalist nations of the globe, Sweden has the best and most equitable distribution of wealth. In Sweden the richest 10% of the population controls only 20.1% of the nation's wealth, and the poorest 10% controls 3.7% of the nation's wealth. These numbers are still criminal. Some conservatives like to think of nations like Sweden as "socialist". Marxists know better. Sweden is capitalist and imperialist. Yet even the modest achivements of European social-democracy are not going to last long in the post-Cold War era. The more agressive and cut-throat capitalists of the United States only tolerated European social-democracy as an antidote to Soviet influence. Now that the USSR no longer exists, the United States seeks to destroy European social-democracy--to make them run their economies like the United States believes it runs its own. Infact, Europe is looking more and more like the United States everyday: the unions are falling from power, the social safty-net is fraying, and there is a large underclass of poor inmigrants doing all of the nation's work for miserable wages. Confront the harsh reality--this is what you are hoping for when you talk about the economic changes that you say need to be implemented in Europe.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


Caleb - 12/18/2003

The following is a copy of a response I wrote in another article, but I will paste it here:

Scott (and others),
I must disagree with your interpretation of "the left." I would remind you and others that of the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination, several of them are highly supportive of the war. They do not hope that things go poorly; they merely think that they can do better (just look at Leiberman or Gephardt).

I also resent any implication that the left "are secretly glad to see deaths caused by suicide bombers." I find such an accusation to show the same level of contempt for the left that you argue they show for Bush.

I do agree on the following thing you said:
"There are many in both Britain and the US that feel this way, though they usually hide their satisfaction under appropriate but unconvincing words of regret."

You are right, there are those whose mind is so warped by hatred for Bush, they want to see America fail, and those people are usually radical liberals just as Nazism was radical conservatism. These radicals, however, are not representative of "the left."

These people who hate Bush so much had no more love for Clinton, a liberal, because it is American policy in total that they hate, it is our free market society, our freedom to express our thoughts, no matter how "bad" some may see them. These people call themselves liberals the way Saddam called himself popularly elected.
http://www.carolmoore.net/photos/12-98-antiwar-photos.html

I also agree with something else you said:
"It is true that many on the right had a similar visceral hatred of Bill Clinton while he was in office" however I seriously recall the same level of hatred towards Clinton by “the right.” Conservatives did (and still do) blame Clinton for anything and everything you can imagine, from causing anti-Semitism in the world, to bombing Iraq for no other reason than to take attention away from his impeachment (which conservatives to this day lament in the same way liberals recall the 2000 election).

Scott,
I get the impression from your post that you are an intelligent person who seems genuinely disillusioned by the so-called left. As a liberal, I would ask that you look at the protesters burning Bush in effigy and realize that this is NOT the left (at least, not in the political/conventional way).

The Democratic party is torn by this war (which might cost them the election in 2004) but even those who are against it (such as myself) does not want our troops to die or civilians to be killed. It is the policy that I oppose, not the brave men and women who are risking their lives to liberate and stabilize a broken country.


Caleb - 12/18/2003

I find this issue of whether Saddam's rights were violated by recording a relatively innocuous exam to be grasping at straws to try and find anything that could be interpreted as violating his rights.

In any event, I commend Steve's intelligent (and legal) repudiation of the fact rather than giving in to the temptation to just say, "HEY, THE GUY IS A BUTCHER OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, SO DON'T LECTURE THE UNITED STATES FOR CHECKING HIS HAIR AND MOUTH WHEN WE FINALLY CAPTURE HIM!" Because simply falling back on that argument is just the easy way out :)


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Mr. Burgess, you may be surprised that a proud communist like myself agrees with much of what you say in your post.

I often find myself arguing with liberals who hope the economy will tank. They ignore the fact that when the economy fails, the poor and working class are the first to suffer and those who suffer the worst, long before the rich feel a twinge in their bloated purses. I don't think this stupidity necessarily derives from any particular hatred of Bush (although many despise Bush, including myself) but rather, an assumption that if things "get bad enough," voters will "wake up" and throw Bush out.

Liberals can see no further than this, because they are equally as committed to capitalism and deliberately blind to its failures as are conservatives. This was most obvious when Gore said that preserving the "democratic" system was more important than its fragrant violation in the hijacking of the election.

Liberals hope that Bush will get a black eye in Iraq so "their guys" can regain the White House. This despite the fact that most Democrats slavishly followed the Bush march to war. If a Democrat were in office, they'd probably have little objection to the useless sacrifice of American men and women for Halliburton or the slaughter of Iraqi civilians. I don't recall much opposition from them when Clinton ordered air strikes on Iraq -- the objections came from Republicans who, it must be admitted, did so from a visceral hatred of Clinton and not from any concern for Iraqis as they hypocritically pretended at the time.

Liberals simply prefer the complacent smirk of a Clinton to the fatuous one of Bush. In Malcolm X's phrase, they simply prefer the fox to the wolf.


Elia Markell - 12/18/2003

Dan,

It's not that hard to get. First, the Baathist dead-enders get to see the growing hopelessness of their cause. Secondly, the Iraqi people get to see the magic of the dictator evaporate, leading them to be forthcoming about helping us ferret out his pathetic minions, and giving these same Iraqi masses confidence that we are gaining in our ability to wend our way aroud Iraq. Thirdly, the demented "Arab street" so-called gets to see the humiliation of this once self-described champion of their cause (you know, the Saladin, or whatever the politically correct spelling is these days, of the modern age), and thus this said demented "street" (largely a fiction of Lawrence of Arabia wannabe Westerners anyway), does its thing and hunkers down to lick its wounds. Fourth, the rest of the world, shamefully betting on the Baathists, sees the game is up and starts to get real about making the new Iraq work for them (hence the new found friendship of the French and Germans returning despite the wishes of the Democratic Nine. I mean they do know how to follow the money, you know.)

In the meantime, of course, a few more bombs will go off, and (in fact) in the short run more may needlessly die as a result, yet in time the advantages of 1, 2, 3, and 4 above kick in, we round up the usual suspects, and the sum total result is the WE ARE ALL SAFER. GOT IT?


Elia Markell - 12/18/2003


Very interesting post. You do a good job of showing why the hatred you identify cannot actually have all that much to do with Bush by himself, since all the pretexts for it do not hold water.

I would suggest the hatred is in fact of the very concept of national sovereignty and the worth of promoting a full-throated patriotism, which is what Bush does so well, and what Reagan did, and why both were regarded with special venom. I believe the real divide within the West now is between those who see liberty and democratic governance as resting on the solid foundations of a national political order and its constitutional bulwark versus those who hate national identity, regard it as retrograd and wish instead to substitute transnational progressivism (in John Fonte's formulation) as the ruling ideology -- envisoning thereby a world order of NGOs, ethnic identity groups, and only semi (if that) accountable international organizations.

So far, this ideology rests on institutional sand and can gain no traction (hence the insane demands for "internationalizing" control of Iraq by transfering it to the UN at the very time the UN is refusing even to stay in a single building in Baghdad). But the ideology itself is strong and corrosive. Bush does not bow down to it even to the degree Bill Clinton did (which was, thankfully, actually very little) by pretending to admire it as an ideal even. Hence, regarding the idea that the denial of contracts to France, Germany and Russia might violate international law, he did not blubber or go into a defensive flinch, he said, "Oh, I'll call my lawyer." The internationalists among us, of course, are horrified and fein disdain at this boob's parochialism. The rest of us stand up on our chairs and cheer.

But that's why they hate Bush, not for who he is or his character, but because they hate the nation-state, the United States of America above all.


Kent - 12/18/2003


Bill,

You are correct in noting that the core issues transcends the Reagan administration, at the same time, however, it transcends the Carter administration as well. At the risk of making you cringe, let me recommend another good read (in case you haven't already read it) Daniel Patrick Moynihan, SECRECY: THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

Moynihan's argument focused primarily on the end of the Cold War and how we had good intelligence, I believe the term is "actionable" intelligence that the Soviet Union was in fact a hollow shell both economically and militarily dating back to the mid-1940s, yet we chose not to act on that intelligence instead accepting the more dubious stance regarding Soviet strength. Then, following the 1992 collapse and the facts are revealed, the politicians are screaming about this massive intelligence failure. Moynihan's book was published in 1998, and you could take much of what he said regarding the Soviet Union could be said about the situation that got us into Iraq.

You are also correct about America's leadership serving the interests of the American people. The difficulty lies in how best to pursue that goal. Let me quote my grandfather from a book he published back in 1937 as he called for an:

"organization of society in which each, regardless of the
function which he performs, will recognize his
interdependence with all others and will realize that even
his own selfish ends can be best served if all work together
for the common good."

The question is, how do we as a nation serve our own ("selfish") interests without alienating half of the world? There is a way, there has to be a way. One thing I am certain of is that the current administration has chosen the wrong way.

Shameless plug alert! I've mentioned to you previously that I am an historian, my field of specialization is Early American history. My first book is being released later this month titled RICHARD HENRY LEE OF VIRGINIA: A PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY. If you're of mind to read it, I would welcome your thoughts on it. Regards,

Kent


Scott Burgess - 12/18/2003


The reaction of many on the left to Saddam's capture once again throws light on what is to me the single most reprehensible aspect of modern leftism - a usually veiled, but sometimes overt hopefulness that things under a conservative/right stewardship will go badly, whether in Iraq, the Middle East or in the US economy.

Impelled by a visceral hatred of President Bush and a naked desire for "their side" to be in power, many on the left are secretly glad to see deaths caused by suicide bombers ("see, I told you so!") and civilian casualties caused by coalition forces (best when children are involved). They hope that US unemployment will rise, and wish for a weak stock market - never mind if it costs the elderly their retirement funds.

There are many in both Britain and the US that feel this way, though they usually hide their satisfaction under appropriate but unconvincing words of regret. Seldom are they as forthright as this, from the executive editor of Salon, Gary Kamiya:


I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

Here's another example (thanks to Andrew Sullivan):

I Hope the Bloodshed Continues in Iraq
[...]

They [American and British soldiers] need to die so that we can be free. Soldiers usually did that directly--i.e., fight those invading and harming a country. This time they need to die in defense of a lie from a lying adminstration to show these ignorant, dumb Americans that Bush is incompetent. They need to die so that Americans get rid of this deadly scum.


For people like this, Saddam's capture is terrible news, as revealed here:

I had a horrible feeling in my stomach this morning when I saw that Hussein had been capatured [sic].

I believe that this kind of thinking stems in large part from a deep-seated hatred of President Bush. Where does this hatred come from?

Many on the left would probably point to the notion that he's a spoilt child of privilege who'd be nothing without his father's influence, and who "stole" the Presidential election. Well, these points can be debated by reasonable people, but are in themselves insufficient to explain the hatred, since exactly the same charges can be levelled against the sainted JFK.

Perhaps it's his religious faith - the faith that has given him the strength to forswear drugs and alcohol. Maybe it's the fact that he abstains from orgies in the White House pool and fellatio in the Oval Office, acts repeatedly enjoyed by St. Jack and the other, lesser hero of the left, Bill Clinton. Maybe that's why Bush is hated so.

Invading and bombing other countries? Nope. Kennedy did that in both Cuba and Vietnam, and Clinton in Kosovo. So that can't be it.

George W. Bush simply appoints Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to two of the most powerful positions in the world, and tells them to get on with it - without paying proper lip service to politically correct code words like "inclusion" and "diversity." Is that the problem? Who knows?

It is true that many on the right had a similar visceral hatred of Bill Clinton while he was in office, but I honestly don't recall having the impression that there were right-wingers hoping for military casualties or civilian deaths, or upset that the economy was doing so well. And I do feel that I would have noticed such a tendency, since I was both politically observant and broadly supportive of the Clinton administration at the time.

There was a time when principled men of the left - whether politicians like Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, or writers like George Orwell - expressed a morality that could be respected. Even if one disagreed with their means, they sincerely wanted a better life for all and did what they thought was right to help make that happen.

Sadly, what's all too evident on today's left wing is a politics driven by hatred, a morally indefensible mindset that would prefer to see mass murdering dictators free rather than captured. A politics that actually hopes for killing, unemployment and poverty, if it helps make their point and helps bring their side to power - and it's all wrapped up in words like "compassion" and "caring."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is nauseating.


Hugh High - 12/18/2003


Mr. Haywood,

You wrote : " Now before you go on praising the accomplishemnts of South Korea--keep in mind that it is an occupied nation and has been since the Korean War (I am talking about the US Army here if you missed that one). "

Are you suggesting that the US Army is so efficient that it can completely occupy and dominate a nation as large and populus with but 35-45 000 troups ?

IF SO, then this bespeaks exceptionally well of the Army's efficieny. Most, I think, do not ascribe such immense efficiency to it as you seemingly do.


Steve BRody - 12/18/2003

1) When Saddam was captured, he had this briefcase. And inside this briefcase, were minutes of meetings, and names and addresses, etc,etc. The military has already rounded up a bunch of the terrorists. There will be more. As more and more cells are rolled up, more and more intel is obtained and the process accelerates. That makes us safer.


2) Now that Saddam, the Ace of Spades has been caught, the rest of the fugitives know that their days are numbered. This is a huge blow to the moral of the terrorists. Some are probably contemplating surrender and cooperation right this minute. That makes us safer.

3) Saddam may be defiant now, but people that are in prison usually suffer a nadir in morale at about the sixth week. He will be more cooperative in the future. That makes us safer.

4) The Iraqi people now know that Saddam will never return. Rather than looking back, in fear, they can now look forward to freedom and our eventual departure. That makes us safer.

5) As the Iraqi people taste freedom, they are going to resent all the Yemeni’s, Saudi’s, Iranian’s, Palestinians and Egyptians who have come to Iraq to fight for Saddam. Pretty soon, the Iraqi’s will start killing these outsiders who come and make life miserable for them. That makes us safer.

6) Saddam can now be tried. During his trial, graphic and dramatic testimony about the horrors he inflicted on his people will be televised and reported around the world. When it is over, the American public and the rest of the world will be so appalled, that any politician whose candidacy is based on the notion that we shouldn’t have ended this horror is toast. GWB gets re-elected-- and that certainly makes us safer.


Steve BRody - 12/18/2003


Irfan, I enjoyed your article very much. I must disagree, however, with much of your reply to Bill.

You claim that Cole’s history of our relations with Saddam “strikes you as accurate and important.” I think you ‘re confidence in Cole’s history is misplaced. By making statements that we “supported Saddam to the hilt”, Cole has vastly overstated the case.
Many people do not realize that between 1973 and 2002, the US supplied less than 1% of the weapons that Saddam purchased. This was less than Denmark provided. The real “supporters to the hilt” of Saddam were France and Russia, who provided over 75% of his weaponry. Given these facts, which can be found on the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute web site, isn’t curious that France and Russia are somehow perceived as occupying the moral high ground on this issue?

Coles also repeats the myth that the US provided chemical and biological weapons to Iraq. I believe the record shows that we provided no chemical weapons to Iraq. We did provided Anthrax and other biological samples under a CDC program for research purposes. Many other countries received these samples under this program.

We did “tilt” towards Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war. What this amounted to was intel about Iranian bombing targets. But so what. Was it more plausible to cozy up to the Ayatollah?
Did the little assistance that we provided Saddam really make us responsible for every thing he did later?

Here’s a question for you? We “tilted” towards Russia during WWII. Gave Stalin far more aid than we ever gave Saddam. Our lend/lease aid may have prevented Nazi Germany from destroying Russia. Did we thereby become responsible for what Stalin did later? Wasn’t he “our guy” at one time?

As for your belief that Saddam was on the CIA payroll; this is an oft repeated and poorly documented charge. Roger Morris, a disgruntled ex-NSC staffer and Andrew and Patrick Cockburn have both made this charge, largely without any real evidence. The CIA denies vehemently denies it.

Said Aburish has claimed that the CIA may have helped the Baathist Party in a coup during the Kennedy Administration, but even Aburish doesn’t claim that Saddam was on the CIA’s payroll.


Steve Brody - 12/18/2003


Well, Brown, before you pronounce President Bush guilty of violating the Geneva Convention, perhaps you should know that under Article 4, the III Geneva Convention requires that in order for a prisoner to be accorded POW status, he must be in uniform, carrying arms openly and conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. That is why Spies and Guerilla’s may be executed.

Saddam seems to fail on all three counts. President Bush’s gracious decision to accord Saddam POW status notwithstanding, Saddam probably doesn’t qualify as a POW. Since The US decision to grant Saddam POW status came after the filming of his scalp exam, said filming probably didn’t violate the Geneva Convention.

But an old Geneva Convention expert like you probably already knew that.

But all these legalisms aside, John, what you seem to have difficulty grasping is that outside of a few rabid Bush-haters, few people give a damn about poor Saddam and how he was humiliated.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

You're right, Brody. Why let something like the Geneva Convention interfere with a priceless photo op? Anyone who objects or thinks W's playground-bully sneering is undignified is just an apologist for Saddam.


John Brown - 12/18/2003

Thanks for the laughs about the dynamic class mobility in the USA, Hugh. Sorry to burst your bubble, but economies are measured by their performance, not their imagined "potential." I especially enjoyed the "being poor is a choice" stuff. In Arkansas 25% of children live in poverty. No accounting for taste, eh?

You're contention that no distribution of wealth is "inherently good or bad" is a particularly shameless example of the pseudo-objective, complete moral bankruptcy of bourgeois economics. How about 100% of the wealth in the hands of 1% of the population? Anything "inherently bad" about that?

In a country with the resources of the United States, the following figures are acceptable:

Unemployment: 0%
Homelessness: 0%
Poverty: 0%


Matt - 12/17/2003

I take exception to the notion that those who opposed the war will be rooted out as pro-Saddam, unpatriotic, and treasonous, by conservative partisans.

First, let's start with the extreme claim of treason. Nobody I know of "gave comfort to the enemy" - the traditional notion of treason - except perhaps the exceptional group of Britons who proposed to offer themselves as human shields in Baghdad. As such, the charge of treason cannot even be levied, and has so far been studiously avoided by much of the conservative press.

Second, there is the charge of lack of patriotism. Patriotism, as such, has nothing to do with the justice of the war. The British among whom I mingled during the early days of the war had no problem distinguishing between their private oppostion to the war, and their wishes that it had not occurred, and their very public support for the troops. Those who sought personal vindication for their views, or political advantage from the death or injury of troops from their own country or its allies, are indeed unpatriotic, and personify the term.

Third, there is the charge of being pro-Saddam. Although the idea has floated in the press from time to time, the charge is both contemptuous and counterproductive. On the other hand, pro-Saddam appears a very appropriate description for the unpatriotic notion, after 20 March, that American and allied troops should be killed or withdrawn in disgrace, rather than completing their mission of regime change.

with respects.


Hugh High - 12/17/2003

Wm. Haywood has written :

"I notice that you are still afraid to confront the first half of the statistics that I presented to you. That is the fact that 10% of South Koreans control nearly one-fourth of the nation's wealth. I know that you stay away from this topic because the fact is morally indefensible. "

and, similarly :

" Now let us look at what you might consider a "successful" capitalist ecomomy: the United States. In the United States today, 12.7% of the population lives below the poverty line. The poorest 10% of the US population controls 1.8% of the nation's wealth while the wealthiest 10% controls 30.5% of the nation's wealth. So, if everything works out in Russia, these are the sort of numbers they can look forward to. Develope your moral sensibilities a bit more and accept the inherent injustice of capitalism even at its most "successful".


In both instances, Haywood reveals a variety of things, not least of which is (a) his own set of values, which are, presumptively, of interest to him, and perhaps even his family and friends, but most assuredly no one else ; and (b) a woeful ignorance of economics, and, indeed, logic.

What the distribution and concentration of income and/or wealth is, at any point in time, of little evidence -- it is but snapshot, as opposed to a moving picture. What is rather more interesting is the potential for a change in the situation, i.e. the dynamic nature of the economy. And, in free market economies, there is ample room for changes in the distribution of income and wealth, i.e. there is freedom of entry and exit into occupations, etc. This is sorely lacking in socialist and other regulated economies. For example, at present European economies are finding regulations , which inhibit entry and exit, and raise the cost of production, have an adverse effect on income of the economic actors, and particular;y those who are most marginal. Economies like North Korea fail because of their rigidities -- rigidities in place so as to benefit the ruling cliques, or "New Classes". Surely Haywood does not wish to impose such "morally repugnant" situations on North Koreans and others around the globe ?


It should be noted that if, for example, 12.7 % of the population is in poverty (presumptively as defined by the official,U.S. govt. definition of poverty ), this is of little policy implication; rather, the more important issue is how many of these people move in and out of poverty with the passage of time, and this is precisely what happens (additionally, while not obviating the situation, it is to be noted that many of these 12.7 % are in poverty because they are in families in poverty, and as their parents move out of the poverty definition, they too will. Additionally, it is to be noted that the official definition of poverty includes only legally earned income; it does not include income-in-kind, e.g. much public relief, or illegally earned income, e.g. from selling drugs.)

Moreover, many of those in poverty have made an overt choice. This is particularly the case of many of those who are homeless, if survey data is to be believed.

As to what Haywood suggests is a 'morally repugnant' distribution of income/wealth, he is implicitly suggesting there is one which he would find not 'morally repugnant'. What is that, Mr. Haywood ? A distribution whereby 10 % of the people(families ? ) get 10 % of the income ; or 5 % ? ; or 15 % ? ; or 35 %? ; or what ??? The obvious point is that there are a number of possible outcomes and, inherently, they are neither good, or bad, or ........ So, your particular choice is of interest to you -- and only you -- but surely has no broader significance.


Steve Brody - 12/17/2003


Ahh, I see. This isn't a petty attempt on your part to portray Saddam's capture in as negative a light as possible.

This is a genuine concern for the US Constitution and dignity.

Guys, your only inches from sincerity


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


Dan, I have yet to hear from one analyst or commentator on the Middle East who does not believe that Saddam's popularity and/or sympathy in the region, was inspired almost entirely from his status as the only leader of an Arab nation who was seen as defiant in the face of the West (i.e. America).

Even if it was only symbolic, the fact that he was brought down solidly demonstrates that progress will never come to the region at the expense of any form of aggression or military confrontation with the U.S.

There are many other related reasons that require analyses too complex to fall within the scope of the majority of these posts.


Dan - 12/17/2003

"I said the capture of Saddam made us safer, and I repeat, anyone who cannot see that is a fool." - Elia Markell

Please explain. In all the backslapping, I have yet to hear one person support this widely held opinion. I'm curious what makes people think this.


Dan - 12/17/2003

You mean, by pointing out that what the US did (parading Saddam on the airwaves) is against the Geneva Convention?

As Mr. Brown points out - we mourn for our lost nation and Constitution (treaties being the law of the land and all)


Dan - 12/17/2003

Not sure what the title means...

However, I find that true for most strawman arguments.


William Haywood - 12/17/2003

Dear Dave,

I notice that you are still afraid to confront the first half of the statistics that I presented to you. That is the fact that 10% of South Koreans control nearly one-fourth of the nation's wealth. I know that you stay away from this topic because the fact is morally indefensible.

Also in your responses you have not even touched upon the topic of national soverignty. South Korea is an occupied nation, and has been for half a century. Politically, South Korea is a puppet of the United States. North Korea (even considering the bankruptcy of the Stalinist beauracracy) is no one's puppets--not even the Chinese can control them. This is the sort of intangible fact that numbers cannot capture.

Also, let us move on to the topic of Russia. I already know what your argument is going to be, so save yourself the typing. You are going to argue that what exists in Russia today is not the "ideal" type of capitalism. Now, even in its most idealized and cuddly form capitalism is built upon the economic reality of class exploitation and the profit of one group at the cost of another. Capitalism is based upon the acceptance of injustice--anyone who defends capitalism lacks the moral fiber to fight against injustice wherever it might exist.

Now let us look at what you might consider a "successful" capitalist ecomomy: the United States. In the United States today, 12.7% of the population lives below the poverty line. The poorest 10% of the US population controls 1.8% of the nation's wealth while the wealthiest 10% controls 30.5% of the nation's wealth. So, if everything works out in Russia, these are the sort of numbers they can look forward to. Develope your moral sensibilities a bit more and accept the inherent injustice of capitalism even at its most "successful".

Sincerely,
William Haywood

P.S. Defend North Korea's right to nuclear weapons.


Bill Heuisler - 12/17/2003

Kent,
If American hypocrisy in regards to this matter is truly making you sick, then remember the matter did not start when RR was elected. As Irfan Khawaja quite accurately notes, President Carter undermined friends of the US (like the Shah) and wrought enemies in Iran and other places while warning against an inordinate fear of Communism. Carter triggered and promoted problems in West Africa, Afganistan, Central America and Iran. Set aside discussion of Shah Pahlavi a moment and realize a President should always have US interests at heart. Jimmy Carter didn't and we've suffered ever since. When our embassy was stormed and hostages taken, our enemy was Khoumeni, not Hussein. To castigate RR and Rumsfeld for using Iraq against Iran is like criticizing FDR for using Stalin against Hitler.

It's not about partisan politics, never has been, although Democrat political power brokers want to focus on RR while ignoring the worst foreign policy President since Wilson. Juan Cole blames America for all the ills of the world, but he can't bring himself to blame the American responsible for many of those ills, President Jimmy Carter.
Bill Heuisler


David - 12/17/2003


Dr. Khawaja,

Your article was like a breathe of fresh air. The emperor, and Edward Said, had no clothes, and it's about time somebody said it.

Also, I've enjoyed very much your own participation in the talkback--you've been quite brilliant so far.


Kent - 12/17/2003

Bill,

How have you been? Long time, no see (read?).

I was struck by your characterization of Juan Cole's article as "sour grapes and sloppy, unsupported, decades-old, partisan hatred." Out of curiosity, what is your basis for this sort of remark other than--perhaps--your own "sour grapes and sloppy, unsupported, decades-old, partisan hatred"?

A critical problem that I see coming (and is reminiscent of "threads" on HNN I participated with in the past) is that the current situation is being reduced down to a duel between "angry liberals" and "pragmatic conservatives." Bull Hockey!!

It would be worth exploring just the Republican/conservative side of the equation in relation to the history of U.S. support for Hussein and Iraq alluded to by Juan Cole. Have you ever read a book by Alan Friedman, SPIDER'S WEB: THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOW THE WHITE HOUSE ILLEGALLY ARMED IRAQ? At the outset of his book he notes how William Casey and a handful of others that included James Baker III and then vice-president George H. W. Bush eagerly pursued a program selling weapons to Iraq--there main problem was Iraq's inclusion on the list of nations suspected of sponsoring international terrorism. The solution, get Iraq off the list.

Secretary of State, Alexander Haig and Howard Tiecher, a Defense Department anylist in the Reagan White House were upset about the effort Haig was angered not only because he was not "consulted" while the decision was being made, but also because Casey, Baker, and Bush, ignored information regarding Iraq. Tiecher noted "we knew very well that Abu Nidal was based in Baghdad...[and] we knew of Iraq's support for his and other terrorist organizations." (p. 26).

There has been a tremendous amount of infighting about U.S. relations with Iraq for over 20 years--and American hypocrisy in regards to this matter is truly making me sick. It's not about partisan politics, although political power brokers want to keep the focus on that level--their motto: "Keep it simple, Stupid." It saddens me to read characterizations such as yours above because it appears as if you've bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Yet, so much of what you said and contributed in the past clearly shows you're much smarter and more capable than that. I look forward to your repsonse.

Kent


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Elia,
1) "I said the capture of Saddam made us safer, and I repeat, anyone who cannot see that is a fool."

I hope you'll forgive the misunderstanding. While I don't think I would call such people fools, I for one agree that his capture will lesson the motivation of some of the insurgents, making our troops safer.

2) “Your point 1 presumes Al Qaeda is the key enemy in the war on terror.”

Since they are largest and best coordinated terror organization, as well as the only one which has declared its intention of attacking America directly, I do consider them the key enemy in the war on terror, as did Bush, not long ago. While I do not know what AQ is up to, I have read enough to know that the war in Iraq has disrupted the hunt for them. We also know (and by “we”, I of course refer to intelligence data that has been made public) that the war in Iraq did much to heighten AQ credibility in the Arab world and that we have now created a terrorist haven where there was none before.

3) “Do you want to argue that this is what we should have done? I might be open to the suggestion, if you could show HOW we could have and yet not incurred even greater costs than we have in taking on Iraq.”

I am not arguing what we should have done, I am arguing what we should not have done, as in go to war with Iraq. I think (as the article among others say) that we have ignored real threats and terrorist havens (such as Iran and Syria) in a war that could almost be described as an obsession.

3) “Iraq was in my view the right place to go to after Afghanistan to exert maximum leverage on the terror complex for the least cost and with the most (given the violated UN resolutions) legitimacy.”

I respect your opinion, but I have never been able to comprehend why Iraq was the next logical step, other than the fact that Bush chose it to be, and the Republican party went along with it.

4) “Your point 2 implies that these 100 or so nations are NOT now working with us on tracking down Al Qaeda. If you know of even one instance where this is so now, post-Iraq, but was not so pre-Iraq, I would like to hear of it. My reading suggests to me that these efforts are as vigorous now as ever.”

The logic of your argument is well taken. However, given the almost total attention that has been given to Iraq, I find it unlikely (this is only my speculation) that countries which have now developed as strong an anti-American position as we have an anti-French position are as eager to join our campaign as they were when America enjoyed international support and sympathy following 9/11.

The following may also be a useful tool for comparison of past conflicts:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A1325-2003Mar20¬Found=true
http://www.centcom.mil/Operations/Coalition/joint.htm

5) As for whether the Iraq war (or Bush’s actions in particular) had anything to do with any country accelerating their programs or simply admitting to them, is speculative and subjective, I agree. My own sense is that it is much harder to convince countries to give up their programs when they are legitimately afraid of an attack. N.Korea said a long time ago that it would abandon its WMD in exchange for a non-aggression pact with the US, to which we accused them of blackmail. The fact that these countries have become so paranoid about us is discomforting, and it will make the price for giving them up much higher.

6) “On your point 4, what evidence do you have that less is being spent on these other efforts than otherwise would have? I do not know of any. I happen to think more does need to be spent on all of them, which is why I am against the Democrats who opposed such spending.”

I don’t know any Democrat who is opposed to any of the said programs we could have been funding. My evidence that the Iraq war diverted funds is based on the statements of military analysts, foreign affairs think tanks, and the simple economic reality of opportunity cost.

7) “a good deal of evidence has been compiled in David Kay's preliminary work on Saddam's WMD programs.”

“The CIA's lead weapons inspector told congressional intelligence committees Thursday that his team has not yet found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” He did find evidence of intent and of UN violations, but let us be honest with each other, that was not the reason we went into Iraq. Any observer of speeches before the war made it clear that there were 2 central reasons for going to war, and many peripheral reasons. Those 2 central reasons remain elusive in their accuracy.
http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/10/02/sprj.irq.kay/index.html

8) “UN resolution 1441 presumed such programs and demanded Saddam account for them, which he never did -- but could have done easily if he did not have them any more.”

Oh, I don’t deny that Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions, and neither did the UN. Clearly it is the UN that lacks credibility on this issue. However, given the conservative rhetoric, “we can’t be the worlds police,” this was simply not the primary reason we went to Iraq, as articulated by the administration. It was simply the legal rationale.

9) “Hence, the U.S. actions helped to restore UN credibility.”

The UN had no credibility before Iraq, and it certainly didn’t get any from a war it was unable to stop despite widespread opposition. The UN is a paper tiger whose influence in directing war and peace is approximately 0. All Iraq did was reconfirm this.

10) “I am sure we will still get to the bottom of what happened to all his WMD and his WMD programs.”

Perhaps, but since it is impossible to prove a negative, I find it far more likely that conservatives will simply argue that we have not found them YET, but they are there and one day we will find them.

11) “As for Iraq-Al Qaeda connections, it is impossible to claim these are "dubious," or that no evidence exists of links to 9/11.”

“No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th”
-- President George W. Bush

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A25571-2003Sep17?language=printer
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/11/Iraq.Qaeda.link/index.html

Are you saying that President Bush is “dismissing entirely the evidence of an Iraqi link to Mohammad Atta, and the dozens of specific intelligence reports summarized in the Feith memo to the Intelligence Committee, as reported by Stephen Hayes?”

I respect your beliefs, but consider the above statement by Bush the ultimate betrayal. Our president KNEW that there was no evidence of a link between Iraq and 9/11 and he also knew that almost 70% of his country thought there was. To me, he had an obligation to correct this significant misunderstanding before going to war and his inability to lead this country honestly demonstrates how precarious the argument for war was in the first place.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


Since you mention Israel, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the news revealed yesterday that in 1992 they were in quite advanced stages of carrying out an (ultimately aborted) assassination.


C.R.W. - 12/17/2003


Political sophistication is developed through consistently practicing it.

They might have an abstract idea of what Communism is, but they have a real-life experience of what totalitarianism is, and they surely want to avoid that.

The two stark choices you throw out are examples of an underly sophisticated analysis of what I believe will likely ultimately take form politically in Iraq.


Elia Markell - 12/17/2003

First, I said the capture of Saddam made us safer, and I repeat, anyone who cannot see that is a fool. Your commments have to do with the larger war on Iraq in relation to the war on terrorism generally. I think you are wrong, but I do not consider you a fool for believing as you do.

Your point 1 presumes Al Qaeda is the key enemy in the war on terror. Aside from the fact that you do not really know what Al Qaeda is up to now (nor does Newsweek), you should understand that "Al Qaeda" is not a single entity that can be described as such. It is many operations, loosely coordinated, through many networks. More importantly, it is only one of a vast array of terrorist networks, and (even more importantly) the states the give them the bulk of their support. All the Newsweek quote tells us is that there is "some evidence" of its coming back, but does not specify and does not in any way connect its fate with Iraq one way or the other. Moreover, the few points Newsweek does make about this problem suggest lines of action that would have been VASTLY more controversial and harder to bring off right now than the war in Iraq -- i.e. taking on the Pakistan military, Iran, or perhaps, Saudi Arabia. Do you want to argue that this is what we should have done? I might be open to the suggestion, if you could show HOW we could have and yet not incurred even greater costs than we have in taking on Iraq. In any case, I find it hard to believe the leaders of Syria and Iran, seeing Saddam on TV the other day especially, are breathing easier. I imagine their breath is of a different kind entirely.

Iraq was in my view the right place to go to after Afghanistan to exert maximum leverage on the terror complex for the least cost and with the most (given the violated UN resolutions) legitimacy.

Your point 2 implies that these 100 or so nations are NOT now working with us on tracking down Al Qaeda. If you know of even one instance where this is so now, post-Iraq, but was not so pre-Iraq, I would like to hear of it. My reading suggests to me that these efforts are as vigorous now as ever.

Your point 3 raises a very interesting point, but I think you get it wrong. Iran and North Korea were already working on nukes, as was Saddam long before 9/11 when our stance was far more accommodating. It is true they see a value in them that was not so apparent to them during the Cold War. That's because, without the Soviet Union, they feel they can isolate the U.S. as a potential target of these weapons, whereas during the Cold War, any nuclear strike against us would have involved both sides of Cold War conflict, which in turn would have involved everyone else. Hence, during the Cold war, they knew they had little chance of playing nuclear bluffs and getting away with them. The decoupling of others from us and our nuclear shield resulting from the collapse of the Soviet threat has much more to do with why Europeans are able to be so in-your-face with us now, as well as with why nations like Iran think they can micromanage the nuclear threats they envison being able to mount. Iraq, as far as I can see, did nothing to encourage these nations further. If anything, it has to have made them realize the U.S. will not be as easy to bluff and intimidate, even without the support of the rest of the world.

On your point 4, what evidence do you have that less is being spent on these other efforts than otherwise would have? I do not know of any. I happen to think more does need to be spent on all of them, which is why I am against the Democrats who opposed such spending.

On point 5, you simply choose to ignore the mounting evidence to the contrary on all your points. No, WMD stockpiles have not been found. But yes, a good deal of evidence has been compiled in David Kay's preliminary work on Saddam's WMD programs. UN resolution 1441 presumed such programs and demanded Saddam account for them, which he never did -- but could have done easily if he did not have them any more. His failure to account even for the absence of these programs was a violation of that resoultion, a violation that seriously challenged the UN's credibility, as with his defiance of every other resolution. Hence, the U.S. actions helped to restore UN credibility. I am sure we will still get to the bottom of what happened to all his WMD and his WMD programs. As for Iraq-Al Qaeda connections, it is impossible to claim these are "dubious," or that no evidence exists of links to 9/11. You can only do that by dismissing entirely the evidence of an Iraqi link to Mohammad Atta, and the dozens of specific intelligence reports summarized in the Feith memo to the Intelligence Committee, as reported by Stephen Hayes. I realize Hayes has been challenged on this, but he has also replied twice and quite effectively. You can be agnostic about what he has to report, or about the conflicting Atta reports, but you simply cannot credibly dismiss all of it.


John Brown - 12/17/2003

I think it's more the dignity of the US government they're mourning.


John Brown - 12/17/2003

Not to put too fine a point on it, Dr. Khawaja, but your article doesn't say your friend was an American, so your attack on my mind-reading skills might not be the slam-dunk you think it is. I wonder, too, if American Muslims aren't part of the Muslim world. As for Said's writings, readers will continue to debate them and to distinguish what they find useful from what they don't.

Respectfully,
John Brown


Stweve Brody - 12/17/2003


No, cogito, they don't "apologize" for him, now they mourn for his lost "dignity"


cogito - 12/17/2003

No--who are these "saddam apologists?" I've nev3r met a single American, no matter what his opinion of the iraq invasion, who defended saddam or "apologized" for him?


Steve Brody - 12/17/2003


The problem with Wm. Haywood’s argument is that the poorest 10% of South Koreans, now matter how little wealth they control, are still far, far better off than the richest 10% of North Koreans.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/17/2003

If my acquaintance was American, then contrary to you, I wasn't bemoaning facts about the Arab/Muslim world, was I?

"Orientalism" is not merely a piece of "literary theory," but a supposed contribution to comparative politics and comparative religion. Whatever its merits (I admit it has some), it is one of the most overrated books of the last 50 years; as an eminent scholar once put it to me, it HAS a good point, but it doesn't MAKE one. And you're wrong to distinguish Said's scholarship from his stupid conspiracy theorizing. He never made any such distinction; he thought his journalism was seamlessly tied to his scholarship. Anyway, his scholarship, "Orientalism" included, is full of conspiracy theorizing. You can't get him off the hook that way.

As for George W. Bush, the falsity of his statements clearly does have an effect on his reputation. The Republicans think he's too dumb to be a liar, and the Democrats think he's as dumb as he is a liar. Anyway, I would have thought that the great Edward Said was to be held to a higher standard than GWB. But if I'm wrong about that, then so be it.


Caleb - 12/17/2003

Elia,

You say the following:
"I mean to claim that we are no safer now that Saddam is caught is the sort of adherence to a fake stand that you never really took seriously to begin with that we expect from 10-year-old caught shoplifting fishing lures at Sears. So if it makes you happy, I won't dignify it by calling it apologetics, since that would suggest Dean actually believes what he is saying now. He doesn't. And anyone who does is a fool."

I had a hard time following that (seriously) but, and correct me if I am wrong, I understand you to mean that anyone who believes that the war in Iraq did NOT make us safer is a fool. Since I consider myself among the "fools," allow me to explain why I believe the Iraq war did NOT make us safer. I present the following 5 reasons:

1) It has diverted attention away from bin Laden and Al Qaeda, a fact that has been confirmed by numerous media outlets, the latest this article in Newsweek, which appeared just last week:

"Despite bin Laden’s apparently fresh interest in Iraq, sources in the region say there remains scant evidence that he had links to Saddam before the war.

"U.S. officials adamantly deny they have skimped on resources—intelligence or military—in that region. But there is evidence that the diversion of U.S. attention to Iraq has given Al Qaeda some breathing room, and that U.S. dependence on Pakistani troops and Afghan warlords is proving inadequate, perhaps even counter-productive, against the terror network. Over the past year, NEWSWEEK has learned, the CIA and British intelligence have been at odds over how badly the Taliban and Al Qaeda were damaged in the region. "The British were more prone to say the Taliban and Al Qaeda were coming back," says a U.S. official who is privy to intel discussions, and who believes the Bush administration downplayed the threat in order to switch its focus to Iraq.

Many Qaeda operatives appear to be traveling to the Mideast via the long, overland route through Iran. But the Bush administration, preoccupied with Iraq, has been reluctant to take a harder line toward Iran over its role as a terrorist haven. "The Iranians and some Arab countries like Syria are breathing easier because the United States is bogged down in Iraq," says one —Arab ambassador to Washington."
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3660179/

2) It has severely weakened American credibility in the world. Considering that over 100 countries were involving in arresting Al Queada suspects after 9/11, and considering how much we depend on other nations given the global reach of our enemies, this is nothing to dismiss. Many Americans falsely believed that the world hates us no matter what, so who cares. This is a gross oversimplification. The Iraq war has been so universally unpopular, even allies who supported us face huge outcries in their own countries.

3) It has prompted the impression many countries now have that the best way to protect themselves against a US attacks is to get WMD for themselves to act as a deterrent. This is a very different mentality we have fostered from during the Cold War, in which nations simply had no really need for them due to the power play between us and the Soviet Union.

4) This war has cased the death of numerous soldiers and cost billions of dollars which could have otherwise have been spent elsewhere (like fighting Al Queada, funding Bush’s unfunded mandates, or finishing what we started in Afghanistan).

5) Finally, the war has not made us safer because, as it turns out, barring some huge underground facility is discovered, all the reasons we thought Saddam was a threat turned out to be wrong (or at the very least, remain unverifiable). We have found no WMD (certainly not the extent that Bush said we would before the war), there are no connections to 9/11 (Bush himself waited until after the war to finally admit this), and any connection to Al Queada at all remains elusive, if not wholly doubtful.

PS: In defense of Dean's so-called switching positions in light of changing circumstances, I present the following:
“Maybe I’m missing something here... I mean we’re going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war…The mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy obvious.”
--Gov. George W. Bush, 2000


John Brown - 12/17/2003

"I don't think their political society is sufficiently developed to fully take advantage of partisan distinctions that are more outwardly important to those of us priveleged to live in well-established democracies"

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Iraqis aren't politically sophisticated enough to know what communism is? Confronting the prospects of a Washington puppet regime or an Islamic theocracy, it's hardly surprising some Iraqis would choose communism.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


I look forward to hearing the case stated in your own words, so I hope I'm not stealing your thunder to offer the preliminary point that Russia's problem is a lack of rule of law or the fact that it believes that enforcement of the law should be based on bribes. Outlook is even bleaker when you combine that with the recently revoked journalistic freedoms and unfairly applied financing of campaign funds.

Russia's problem is that it squandered capitalism on purely political gains.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


However, the assumption about lasting peace is something into which I feel obliged to interject and take exception to.


C.R.W. - 12/16/2003


If you go the December 12th post of this Iraqi blogger, you'll find a reference to Muslim clerics and Communists protesting together on behalf of democracy.

http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

I don't think their political society is sufficiently developed to fully take advantage of partisan distinctions that are more outwardly important to those of us priveleged to live in well-established democracies. With time and assistance, however, I'm sure they will.


Elia Markell - 12/16/2003

Actually, Jake, if you were paying a bit more attention to the words and less to the typos, you would note that I said Dean's remarks do NOT quite amount to apologetics.

And in fact, I do not think they are apologetics, actually, I think they are rank opportunism. To see why, spend a bit of time going back to some of Dean's past remarks, before he got the absurd notion he might get to be president. Actually, I believe the Wash. Post has done your work for you. You will find there today even that Dean once thought Saddam was a mortal threat who had to be removed, French opposition or no, come hell or high water. Of course that was before George W actually did it for us all.

Now, Dean is pandering to the Bush haters and is getting himself into deep doo-doo, as I believe the saying goes. I mean to claim that we are no safer now that Saddam is caught is the sort of adherence to a fake stand that you never really took seriously to begin with that we expect from 10-year-old caught shoplifting fishing lures at Sears. So if it makes you happy, I won't dignify it by calling it apologetics, since that would suggest Dean actually believes what he is saying now. He doesn't. And anyone who does is a fool.


Elia Markell - 12/16/2003

William,

Good arguments for the pre-emptive action against Iraq. Exactly. Why would anyone be foolish enought to let yet another dicator get nukes?

Also, nice use of irony there about North Korea needing to defend itself against imperialist counter-revolution. Just can't have too many people eating food, now, can we. Or (regarding that capitalist counter-revolution) living like the poor oppressed fools in SOUTH Korean, who are clamoring, I bet, to get into the North -- if only there were more room.


dave - 12/16/2003

I meant 3.5 billion less than the entire economy of N. Korea, rahter than 3.5 percent.


dave - 12/16/2003

Dear William Haywood,

Please, just call me Dave. I have to dash off to work, but I will simply say:

Aggregate income South Korea: 457.4 billion. 2.6% of 457.4 bil. around 12 billion. Or 3.5 percent less than the entire economy of N. Korea. (Not a bad return on the billions ivested by the United States, ay? Those wily capitalists!)

So, as to this lovely snipe: "The poorest ten percent controls only 2.6%. Now I know that this sort of inequity is acceptable to you boosters of capitalism, but Marxists have a higher moral sensibility." Better to spread misery equally, eh Mr. Haywood?

And please, don't minimize the accomplishments of the South Koreans simply because they were helped by the United States. It is unbecoming a man of you obvious moral sensibility.

Cheers

Dave

p.s. I will discuss the Soviet Union with you later if you'd like. Suffice to say, I don't think their current economic/social problems are due to an overabundance of capitalism.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

Thanks. In all honesty, however, I have to confess that part of the reason I decided to answer objections here was to procrastinate on having to grade the papers that are piled here on my desk. But since that's what I actually get paid to do, I should probably get back to it. After I grab a cup of coffee and check my email, I mean.


John Brown - 12/16/2003

I read just fine, Dr. Khawaja. Sorry to say I found your article poorly focused and devoid of substantive argument, but I won't call you illiterate.

I thought your "non-Arab Muslim" acquaintance might be a voice from elsewhere in the Muslim world, but if he's not -- so what.

For _Orientalism_ alone, Said's place as a literary critic is assured. Any stupid conspiracies he floated have no bearing on that. I admire Dostoyevsky's writing but have less than no appreciation for his political agenda. On the face of it, the falsity of one's statements appear to have little impact on reputation -- look at George W. Bush.

Cheers,
John Brown


Caleb - 12/16/2003

Dr. Khawaja,
I always appriciate it when an author is willing to speak to the audience here and defend their piece.

There is no need however, since your scholarship and research speak for themselves and I am grateful for it. Thank you for poing out those who would twist the truth into whatever supports their political conclusions, even if that person is no longer here to spread his ideology.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

Count on it.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

Thanks for your praise, Bill. I hate to disagree with someone praising me, but I think I have to.

I don't entirely disagree with Juan Cole. I happen to be (VERY reluctantly) in favor of the current Iraq war, but the history Cole recounts of US support for Saddam strikes me as both accurate and important. It is sad but true that we are fighting a monster that WE helped to create (not alone, of course, but still: we bear responsibility). Saddam Hussein was at one time on the CIA's payroll; he was, as the spymasters like to say, "our guy." We ought to be asking ourselves why "our men" are now fighting "our guy." A dozen people from my neighborhood have come home in coffins. I still support the war (people die in wars, I realize) but it is unbearable to think that good men are dying because clever men decided to "tilt" the wrong way.

Where I differ from Juan Cole is that I do not think that the Republicans can somehow uniquely be singled out for blame. Yes, the Republicans tilted in favor of Saddam. BAD. But those against this war should reflect on the fact that our wars against Saddam have all been applications of the famous "Carter Doctrine." If it is nauseating to see yesterday's pro-Saddam tilters now tilting against him, it is equally nauseating to compare the "Carter Doctrine" of the late 1970s with the folksy peacenik that Jimmy Carter is today. If Carter had an ounce of integrity, he'd go back and explain how conformity with his Carter Doctrine is compatible with his peacenik attitude. But I don't expect him to do that on his own, and I don't expect anyone to ask him about it, either.

Final point on the same theme: I am not generally a big fan of Israel, but I can't help feeling some gratitude for the Israeli attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. While the world was tilting toward Iraq, the Israelis were bombing it. They deserve some credit for that. The people who are now criticizing the Republican tilt toward Iraq seldom mention that. They ought to.


John Brown - 12/16/2003

Thanks for speaking so frankly, Professor Khawaja. I'm sure we can look forward to many intellectual abortions from you in the future.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

Cram,

Thanks for your comment. I was against the first Gulf War, and (going farther back) also against aid to the contras in Nicaragua, as well as aid to the Afghan mujahidin, and felt exactly the same way as you do in all three cases. It's one thing to oppose US intervention, another thing to sympathize with totalitarian dictatorships, whether Sandinista, Soviet, or Baath. Neither the Left nor the Right seem to grasp this, but the distinction is not all that hard to maintain. There are many regimes out there to hate; attacking them is always a separate issue, and the burden of proof always lies squarely on those who favor war, not those against it.

In the case of the present Gulf War, I was against it for a long time--I changed my mind around January 2003--but I certainly don't think that everyone against the war is/was pro-Saddam. I don't even think that Edward Said was pro-Saddam (and didn't say he was). He was just sufficiently blinded by his anti-Americanism to come up with garbage of the sort I discussed in the essay.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

I wonder if you didn't learn anything from the article because you don't know how to read.

I cite four examples of apologetics in the article, ordered from least bad to worst. The only one that comes from "the Arab and Muslim world" is Azmi Bishara. Azmi Bishara is an Israeli. Is that the Arab and Muslim world? The first two examples are from Americans, in the US. Edward Said was an American, too.

The relevance of Saddam's capture to Said's theory is that it conclusively refutes the theory. How a direct refutation is not "relevant" or an "effect" I leave to you to explain.

As for my "not liking" Said's article, I think the basis of my "dislike" goes a bit deeper than, say, my preference for coffee over tea. What I am asking is why The Observer printed an obviously ridiculous conspiracy theory, and why its falsity is not apt to have any effect on Said's much-inflated academic reputation. I don't think the answers to those questions are merely trivial.


Irfan Khawaja - 12/16/2003

Evidently you don't find it sad that the deceased scholar, when alive, went out of his way to cast doubt on the guilt of those who engaged in mass murder, or that he was the one who spent the last months of his life penning such "trivial surmises" in the first place.

What I actually spend a good deal of my time doing is hunting down and debunking pernicious conspiracy theories, an occupation that makes a difference to that not inconsiderable group of people who distinguish sharply between "truth" and "falsehood"--and to which group you obviously do not belong.

I wouldn't have taken the tone I took in this essay had Said not taken a much worse tone toward people I admire--among them Christopher Hitchens, Bernard Lewis, and Kanan Makiya. You want to get on your bloody high horse, William of the Unknown Surname? Why don't you spend your obviously well-spent time writing a nice little essay about THAT? Until then, spare me your sanctimonious drivel.

I don't relish having to speak ill of the dead, but take a look at the man's website, and spend some time in academia--where I spend most of mine. Once you do, you quickly realize, that while Said may be deceased, in Nietzsche's phrase, "some are born posthumously." And because they are, I think in fairness, that there ought to be an intellectual equivalent of the right of abortion. And believe me, I have no compunction about doing the "procedure" in question. Pro bono.


Jake Lee - 12/16/2003


Your attempt to smear Howard Dean is absurd on its face, Elia. One can agree or disagree with the Vermont doctor's assessment about the effect of Cheney & Rumsfeld's "preventative" Iraq war (and the now concluded nine month manhunt for Saddam) on the recruiting effectiveness of Al Qaeda, or on the strength of America's international alliances, or on the unelected President’s chances at the polls next November, but there is not the slightest shred of evidence of Dean, or any other mainstream American politician, being a Saddam "apologist".

Take your Geritol and go back to bed, Elia.


William Haywood - 12/16/2003

Dear Dave Levy,
Afraid to discuss the former Soviet Union? I understand, the boosters of capitalism are really at a loss to put a positive spin on that terrible situation.

But since you insist on changing the subject to South Korea, lets discuss South Korea. I will try to move beyond your attempt at wit and move into the real of facts. South Korea represents what might happen if the wealthy nations of the world plow their resources into the Third World. The United States and friends have poured billions of dollars into South Korea. Lenin and Trotsky always knew that the wealth nations had to share their money with the underdeveloped countries to improve global living standards. Now do not chalk US investment in South Korea up to the generosity of the imperialists. This was done to keep the South Korean populace docile to prevent the spread of Marxist ideas from the North. Yet inspite of this, the government of South Korea has still had to resort to all sorts of authoritarian measures to keep their citizens in line.

Lets look at a dark side to South Korean economic development: the wealthiest 10% of the population controls nearly one-fourth of the nation's wealth. The poorest ten percent controls only 2.6%. Now I know that this sort of inequity is acceptable to you boosters of capitalism, but Marxists have a higher moral sensibility.

Now for the poverty of North Korea--I am no supporter of the Stalinist bureaucracy, but let us look at what the North Koreans have had to face for nearly five decades: the unrelenting hostility of the United States. Maintaining a 50 year long war with the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth can be a major drain on a backward, peasant economy.

Now before you go on praising the accomplishemnts of South Korea--keep in mind that it is an occupied nation and has been since the Korean War (I am talking about the US Army here if you missed that one). And politically it is a satellite of the United States and its will. I am sure that this is what every soverign nation aspires to.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


Cram - 12/16/2003

William,
Your warning is well taken, and accurate.


William - 12/16/2003

How pitiful that so much energy was put into bemoaning the fact that you weren't able to throw evidence against a trivial surmise back in the face of a recently deceased scholar.

Sounds like you spend your days counting angels on pinheads.....


dave levy - 12/16/2003

"We have seen what capitalism has already done for the people of the former Soviet Union--nothing good."

Hasn't done much for the South Koreans either. Wait a minute...


William Haywood - 12/16/2003

Dear Elia Markell,

The topic of North Korea needs further discussion as this seems to be a topic that both the right and the left in the United States are dangerously confused about. A few points to consider:
1. North Korea has a right to nuclear weapons to defend itself from imperialist counter-revolution. Why has the Bush administration not made agressive moves against North Korea like they did against Iraq? The answer is that North Korea has a nuclear arsenal. If Iraq actually had WMDs the United States would have never attacked. As I have said elsewhere, the only thing that US imperialists seem to understand is a nuclear weapon. I defend North Korea's right to develope nuclear weapons.
2. Now, what does North Korea need to extricate itself from their current misery? The answer is not capitalist counter-revolution lead by the United States and Japan. We have seen what capitalism has already done for the people of the former Soviet Union--nothing good. What North Korean needs is a new, internal revolution to overthrow the corrupt Stalinist beauracracy that currently runs the country.


William Haywood - 12/16/2003

Dear Cram,

Be careful with your praise. Although the accusation is not made in the article, conservatives in the United States will soon begin to use similar rhetoric to paints all of those who opposed the war as traitors and apologists for Saddam Hussein. For an example of this all you have to look at is one of the postings to this article "Seek and Ye Shall Find the ANSWER".
As you well know, protesters against the war did not support the regime of Saddam Hussein. They opposed an unjust war--a war that we now know will bring no lasting peace to Iraq.

Sincerely,
William Haywood


John Brown - 12/16/2003

Markell, ANSWER is a front group for the Workers World Party. They're a bunch of unreconstructed Stalinists who think North Korea is socialist. Nevertheless, they don't support Saddam, they oppose US imperialism. There is a world of difference, although a bit subtle for the "you're either with us or against us" mentality. The principle will become clearer to Americans, if not to the Bush administration, as the Iraqi people continue to fight their occupiers despite Saddam's removal from the picture.

By the way, anybody else notice those red banners with the hammer and sickle waved by the Iraqis celebrating Saddam's capture?

As far as Dean goes, he is simply stating objective fact. First of all, he was obviously talking about the safety of Americans, so your bleeding heart for the Iraqis is just a red herring. Secondly, regardless of what Iraqis thought, Saddam was directing nothing from his hole in the ground. He was not masterminding any insurgency, and he was not about to come back to anything. So unfortunately it looks like Iraqis are no safer today than yesterday, either.


Elia Markell - 12/16/2003

Phil, you obviously have not paid close attention to the views of A.N.S.W.E.R., the organizers of most of the big demos against the war. They are (were, now I suppose) openly supportive of Saddam, as well as of North Korea and other delightful regimes of that sort.

Moreover, while not exactly apologetics for Saddam, it could be said that Dr. Dean comes close when he asserts, astoundingly, that we are NO SAFER now with Saddam caught than we were before. This of course, is a radical rejection of his own party's view during its eight years under Clinton. More importantly, it suggests an utter indifference about Saddam's influence on anyone other than an American, a kind of hyper-nationalism I would have thought the left would balk at. This utter indifference may not be ooutright apology, but it is in its effect every bit as effectively so as far as those who actually lived under the Ace in the Hole.


Phil Albert - 12/16/2003


Contrary to the myth suggested by the article's title, there are no Saddam apologists to speak of outside the Mideast.

And even that number has dwindled since Sunday.


Elia Markell - 12/16/2003

Irfan Khawaja, Very nicely put.

But to answer the question asked in your article's title, no, they will not.


Cram - 12/16/2003

Mr. Khawaja,
As a liberal who was against this war from the start, I found this article to be insightful and cogent, even if I disagreed with some relatively minor points. While I was against this war because I did not think it to be in America's interest, I was always shocked at the ability of some of my fellow liberals take a humanitarian argument AGAINST it.

I was deeply torn about the war before I turned against it and what made me torn was the fact that Saddam was a brutal monster!! His capture is a great day for America, but as President Bush said in a conference today, "it is an ever better day for the Iraqi people."

Conspiracy theories, either about Bush or anyone else is often nothing more than conjecture, based on hatred or distrust of the target without any evidence. While I take no pleasure in accusing a man who has passed on, I speculate that if Mr. Said were here with us today, he would be unapologetic.


John Brown - 12/16/2003

What is it, exactly, that I'm supposed to respond to? There is no argument here to agree or disagree with. This is just a plain, bad article.

The author seems to bemoan two facts:
1) That many in the Arab and Muslim worlds championed Saddam as an anti-imperialist
2) That Edward Said was able to publish an article in which he made suggestions that proved incorrect, even outlandish.

And? He proceeds to pick apart Said's "theory," then suggests that Saddam's capture has some ponderous relevance to either of these concerns.

They don't. The first is not likely to be effected by Saddam's capture. Neither is the second. People were interested in reading Said's opinions, and newspapers published them. Apparently the author doesn't like that. Learn anything from this article? Not me . . .


Bill Heuisler - 12/16/2003

Professor Khawaja,
Thank you for writing a poignant, yet clear, answer to the Cole article above. Sour grapes and sloppy, unsupported, decades-old, partisan hatred can only be answered by calm reason.
Bill Heuisler


No Conspiracy Here - 12/15/2003


The only way that any of the ideas explored, proposed, or advanced here would be considered by some respondents to be controversial enough to elicit a challenge is if they were to be offered by someone with a Jewish name.