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 Volume 1.15  This View’s Guest Column May 20, 2002 


         
   
Two Helen-Thomas Takedowns
   
         
         
    David Nieporent    
         
   

Time to retire

I happened to run across this idiotic piece by Helen Thomas, who can’t figure out why the United States might want to act against Iraq. Her argument is a combination of every logical fallacy one can imagine.

She starts with moral equivalence:

Yes, it violated U.N. resolutions in 1998 by ousting international weapons inspectors who were trying to make sure that it was not secretly producing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

But other nations, including Israel, have violated U.N. resolutions, and we have not tried to oust their leaders.

Well, clearly Saddam Hussein is on the same level as the Israeli leadership. After all, Israel engaged in a large-scale military operation in Jenin and killed fifty people; Saddam engaged in a large-scale military operation in Halajba and killed fifty-thousand people. Surely there’s no real difference there. Let’s not even mention that Israel’s leaders can be “ousted” peacefully; Iraq’s cannot.

Then we get projection:

One explanation for Bush’s fixation on ousting Saddam Hussein is that he wants to avenge his father, who was victorious against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 but failed to unseat its ruler. Conservatives have long accused the elder Bush of not finishing the job in Baghdad.

However, considering the human cost, surely personal vengeance is not a valid reason to start a Middle East conflagration. Such a drastic move would anger even more the already alienated Arab world against America.

Bush, of course, has never given that “explanation,” and has never cited that as a “reason.” (And if this were a position of which Thomas approved, such as campaign finance “reform,” would she describe it as “fixation?” Or would it be, say, a “commitment?”)

Then we get “everyone else is doing it”:

Another of the administration's arguments for an attack is that Iraq is a brutal dictatorship. It is, absolutely. But so are other nations — Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Burma, Libya, for example. And Bush isn’t trying to take them down.
And if Bush were trying to take them down, wouldn’t Thomas be complaining about that? (And aren’t two of those the other members of the Axis of Evil, anyway?) Does the United States need to overthrow every evil government to justify overthrowing one evil government?

Iraq may be making doomsday chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. But wouldn’t the United States make a more persuasive case if it would publicly lay out whatever evidence it has, such as satellite photos?
Persuasive to whom? I wasn’t aware that American foreign policy was supposed to be determined by whether Helen Thomas liked the idea. And I don’t think anybody else around the world is confused on this point. Some don’t care, and some are too timid to act even if they do — but either way, they’re not waiting for proof.
Assuming that Iraq has those weapons, it is not alone. There are many nations, including the United States, that have nuclear arsenals.
And? We’re hardly worried about France bombing us. More to the point, does Thomas not understand that the whole idea is to oust Hussein before he develops the weapons? It would be an incredibly stupid policy to sit there twiddling our thumbs while Hussein is building an atomic bomb, and then attack him after he has succeeded.

And finally, we get to the Rodney King approach: can’t we all just get along?

It would be better to keep international pressure on the Iraqi regime for unrestrained U.N.-conducted weapons inspections that might lead to a peaceful solution. A second round of negotiations on the subject resumed at the United Nations last week with Iraq hoping to extract some concessions — lifting economic sanctions against the country and eliminating the no-fly zones overhead — in exchange for its permitting the return of the inspectors.
No, Helen. We’ve tried the “international pressure” approach. Now we want to try the real pressure approach. Note that what Thomas wants is to try the “no pressure” approach — to have us remove sanctions in exchange for “inspections.” Thomas again confuses means and ends: the goal isn’t inspections; the goal is to eliminate the Iraqi threat. Inspections are a means to that end.

What I can’t figure out is why this editorial is coming out now (well, actually a week ago, but I just saw it.) It’s a rehash of arguments that have been made for months.

Jumping to Conclusions
May 16, 2002

© David Nieporent 2002. Used with permission.

   
         
    Juan Gato    
         
   

Ah, Helen Thomas, what would the world be without thee? Well, for starters a hell of a lot easier on the eyes. Yup, that was a cheap shot against an old lady. After reading her latest, though, she deserved it.

To hear American officials starting with President Bush tell it, you would think a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq is inevitable.
The man has openly said that a regime change in Iraq is going to happen.
Why would we want to do that? How many lives of Americans and Iraqis are we prepared to sacrifice to topple one man, Saddam Hussein? What right do we have to overthrow the Iraqi regime anyway?
Yes, it is better to just wait until he can nuke Israel. And, Helen, consider what right the Iraqi regime has in and of itself? It’s a post-colonial, badly-created nation led by a Stalinist dictator who seized power in a bloody, bloody coup. A question that has been in my mind has been just what the hell makes Saddam legitimate? We can say that it is not our business to interfere in the government choices of other peoples, but this is clearly not a government by consent in any way shape or form. To use everyone’s favorite term, essentially Saddam is an occupying power. We hear time and time again that occupation is not legitimate.
Yes, it violated U.N. resolutions in 1998 by ousting international weapons inspectors who were trying to make sure that it was not secretly producing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
I just put this in here so you could catch your breath before you read the next one-sentence paragraph. (What is up with these one and two-sentence paragraphs? I know I’ve bitched about it before, so I’ll move on.)
But other nations, including Israel, have violated U.N. resolutions, and we have not tried to oust their leaders.
There you have it, folks! Israel and Saddam Hussein are morally equivalent. I got a traffic ticket once. Does that make me equivalent to the drunk driver who kills a family of 4 who also receives a ticket? Plus isn’t it keen that at one time, one of these UN resolutions that Israel ignores was to equate its very existence to racism. But it’s all the same, I suppose. I’ll have to bow to Helen’s many more years of experience (many, many, many more).
Since he came to power, Bush has been obsessed with bringing about what he calls “a change of regime” in the Iraqi dictatorship. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the effort would be accomplished by “whatever means” it takes.
Notice that Bush “came to power”, it’s not “since he was elected”. Just another part of the election that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends.
One explanation for Bush’s fixation on ousting Saddam Hussein is that he wants to avenge his father, who was victorious against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 but failed to unseat its ruler. Conservatives have long accused the elder Bush of not finishing the job in Baghdad.
Yeah, only those icky Conservatives. No one else in their right mind could ever have such a thought.
However, considering the human cost, surely personal vengeance is not a valid reason to start a Middle East conflagration. Such a drastic move would anger even more the already alienated Arab world against America.
Will then piddly poo on them. Consider the human cost of leaving him in power. Oh, but according to dear Helen, even though he’s a dictator and all, he’s still the legitimate leader of Iraq. Wait... dictator = legitimate leader... I would have liked to see the punch cards she used for that logic! And she cannot, and will not, accept any other real reason for removal of Saddam than personal revenge. As we see later, she completely discounts any and all arguments that Saddam Hussein is trying to build weapons of mass destruction. To her, that is simply a Bush falsehood to keep his war going.
Another of the administration’s arguments for an attack is that Iraq is a brutal dictatorship. It is, absolutely. But so are other nations — Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Burma, Libya, for example. And Bush isn’t trying to take them down.
One at a time, dear. One at a time.
Iraq may be making doomsday chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. But wouldn’t the United States make a more persuasive case if it would publicly lay out whatever evidence it has, such as satellite photos?
That “satellite photos” one cracked me up for some reason. That seems to her to be the only possible smoking gun evidence to her. And perhaps more evidence will come out as the time draws closer and closer. Personally I think people like this doubting Thomas, who won’t be convinced until they’ve stuck their fingers in the nuclear goo or their hand into the gash that used to be Israel, are blind fools.

Ok, this may be time to catch another breath and relax a bit. This next paragraph is a doozy.

Assuming that Iraq has those weapons, it is not alone. There are many nations, including the United States, that have nuclear arsenals.
Yup. United States and Iraq, both with nuclear weapons. Morally equal in that fact. It’s like telling a rape victim to suck it up because many people have sex. It. is. not. the. same. It’s not remotely the same. It’s disgusting to even consider.
It would be better to keep international pressure on the Iraqi regime for unrestrained U.N.-conducted weapons inspections that might lead to a peaceful solution. A second round of negotiations on the subject resumed at the United Nations last week with Iraq hoping to extract some concessions — lifting economic sanctions against the country and eliminating the no-fly zones overhead — in exchange for its permitting the return of the inspectors.
Yeah, and let him delay and put it off longer and longer until he has those weapons. Are you truly this stupid, Helen? Do you truly think that after he ignored the previous terms that he’ll obey new ones? And what the heck kind of standard is it to give concessions to the guy who broke the deal in the first place? People like you, if in charge, get a lot of innocent people killed, Helen.
For all Bush’s war-drum-beating, the president is still trying to find a reason to attack Baghdad that would be acceptable to the world. Heaven knows, administration officials tried to find an Iraqi link to the Sept. 11 terrorist acts against the United States. But they could not find one.
Ah, “war-drum-beating”. Another lazy, boring cliché that just makes her writing sparkle! We’re beginning to learn that what is acceptable to the world is morally repugnant. Plus, as poor dunders like Helen never seem to get, the war is on those who support, harbor and fund terrorists (yeah, it’s murky with this crap with Arafat), not just with those specifically involved with the attacks of September 11th. We know that Saddam funds terrorists. We know that he gives money in exchange for Palestinian human sacrifices as long as in the process of the sacrifice as many innocent Israelis as possible are murdered.
If Iraq continues to stiff the United Nations on weapons inspections, it will be up to the member states to impose penalties, not the United States acting unilaterally.
To hell with the United Nations. They’re too busy raping children, extorting money, making the West Bank safe for terrorism to grow, making sure that all human rights abuses by nations not the US or Israel are covered up, and generally getting in the way to actually do any damn good.
Ironically, the United States itself has refused to accept weapons inspectors from countries it considers hostile. Furthermore, this nation chooses the sites that inspectors who are allowed in the country may inspect. Under special legislation, the president can block unannounced inspections and ban inspectors from removing samples of its chemical stockpiles.
Again she says the US is just as bad as Iraq. No difference. Sorry, don’t buy it. If I bought into that, I’d have to then also say that Helen Thomas is equally as hot as Jennifer Connelly. That’s just too disturbing to think about. She ignores that Iraq gasses and tortures its own people. She forgets that it lost a war and signed on to specific terms.
But, hey, who said we had to be fair?
Wow, she just won me over with that clever remark. You know, all the best debates were created on the school yard. I am trumped. She’s right. It’s better to let Iraq have its way, then kill a bunch of people because, hey, the US is just as bad, especially with the selected president Bush.
The New York Times reported April 28 that the United States is planning an air and ground invasion of Iraq early next year that could involve the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops.
The same paper who could barely cover massive pro-Israel demonstrations in its own city?
(I cut out 3 paragraphs because they were filler, useless to the column - Juan.)

In a telephone interview, Mohammed Aldoury, the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, told me: “We challenge anybody, Americans or others, to present one shred of evidence” that his nation possesses weapons of mass destruction. “They have not and they cannot.”

Welcome to Juan Gato’s Carnival of Idiots! You’ve seen the Man-Hungry North American Dowd! You’ve seen the Malodorous Moore whose stench can drop you at 15 paces! Now come see the Amazing Clueless Gnome who, using skills honed over decades, can take the statements from the shills of tyranny at face value while at the same time doubting everything said by democratic nations! Two-bits a gander!
Meantime, the United States used its clout last month to oust Jose Bustani, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which conducts inspections of weapons labs and oversees destruction of illegal stockpiles.

During his tenure, Bustani oversaw the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons and two-thirds of the world’s chemical weapon facilities. He also raised the number of signers to the weapons convention from 87 to 145 in the past five years.

But the Bush administration accused him of mismanagement and “ill-considered initiatives” such as threatening inspections in five unspecified nations.

The real reason, according to news reports, was that he wanted to get Iraq to sign the anti-weapons convention and become a member of the organization, a move the United States strongly opposed.

Thus, his real sin was trying to provide an alternative to the war with Iraq that the administration wants.

The Amazing Clueless Gnome also has the powers to believe that international agreements, especially with paranoid Stalinist dictators, prevent war, lead to hugging and the passing out of flavored toffees or herrings to every third passerby who wants them!
President Bush should give peace a chance. Let’s not get caught up in an arrogance of military power.
Yes. Because Iraq is just a peaceful nation trying so hard to get along in this world. Saddam needs hugs, not bombs. If we show him friendliness and love, he’ll realize the errors of his ways and step down to take up poetry and watercolors.

Juan Gato’s Bucket o’ Rants
May 8, 2002

© Juan Gato 2002. Used with permission.

   
         
    Webpage ELC 2002    


 Volume 1.15 This View’s Guest Column May 20, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

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