October 24, 2002
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR:
Good Reasons Aren't Enough for Bush
(Richard Cohen, October 24, 2002, Washington Post)
Appearing on the old "Dick Cavett Show" back in 1980, the writer Mary McCarthy said of her fellow writer Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' " The same cannot yet be said about George W. Bush and his administration -- but it has not been around as long as Hellman was and is not nearly as creative.
The evidence is accumulating, though, that neither Bush nor his colleagues are particularly punctilious about the truth. For good reason, they sorely want a war with Iraq -- but good reasons are not, it seems, good enough for this administration.
Instead, both the president and his aides have exaggerated the Iraqi threat, creating links and evidence where they do not exist. Even before this war starts, its first victim has been truth. [...]
In speaking about Hussein last week, Bush said, "This is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."
Maybe in his judgment -- but not really in anyone else's.
Mr. Cohen is, oddly enough, lying even as he decries lying. There may not in fact be close ties and co-operatioon between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, but no objective observer can deny that there are many credible reports
that Saddam has
made repeated efforts to turn al Qaeda into his forward army. The report that one sees most often, and which is detailed enough to make one believe there's some fire below the smoke, is that after Bill Clinton's desultory cruise missile attack on al Qaeda's Afghan encampments in 1998, Saddam sent Faruq al-Hijazi to Kandahar
to renew an offer of asylum and assistance to Osama, specifically including the option for al Qaeda to relocate to Iraq. (It may be argued that such stories are manufactured, but why make up a series of stories that show there are no ties between Saddam and al Qaeda?) That Osama may have resisted these blandishments, because Saddam is not sufficiently an Islamicist, does not in any way diminish Saddam's desire to use al Qaeda for his own purposes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2002 10:02 AM
That Bush lies when it is convient for him is not news.
What is news is that someone finally called him on it.
Besides, if Bush is using the pending (or not...) war in
Iraq as a teflon blanket to try swing the election his way,
why is it not a ligitimate issue? I know all Arabs look alike but it
might interest you to know that Saddam and Osama have a
history of antagonism that stretches back to the Iran/Iraq war.
Osama offered the Iranians help in fighting the Iraqis. Al Qeada
is not closely alligned with Iraq. They get no funding from Iraq. They
do not operate any training camps nor do they recruit foot soldiers from Iraq.
The "credible reports" are nothing more than vague innuendo and supposition.
Your tears for the mean old columnists at the NYTimes that dare to criticize your
beloved boy king do not persuade. That the right is so thin-skinned about Bush
is laughable considering the hate filled missiles fired at the last president from the
pages of the WSJ editorial board and other conservative pundits. Grow up.
is not closely alligned with Iraq."
Yes, that's why their spokesman is opposed to us going to war with them... yep, they're totally against them.
In fairness to WaPo, I think they are far, far more balanced than the Times. They do have Michael Kelly, Sebastian Mallaby and George Will. Athough Will gets on my nerves for some reason I can't quite put my finger on.
The staff editorials have also been largely favorable to Bush on the matters of Iraq and Afghanistan, at least as far as I could tell.
Nick: I'd recommend keeping satire and irony separate from factual analysis. Reading your post and trying to figure out where ironic fiction ends and your facts start is impossible.
The Boy King or Boy Emperor stuff makes me laugh. The father of the so-called boy was an poor president, who threw all of his political credit away in a few months and who nearly ruined what Reagan had built up. You have to be a leftist with a lobotomy to believe the Reps would honor such a man by electing his inept son as their leader.
Dubya got where he is because he's a shrewd politician, something his father never was.
Or like he said it himself : "I inherited half of my father's friends and all of his enemies".
I'd be interested in any articles you can cite about Osama offering Persian Shi'ites assistance in their war against Sunni Arabs. It seems implausible but is, I suppose, possible.
I understand the impulse to protect the empty suit you guys voted for but facts are facts.
Osama and Saddam practice completely different versions of Islam. One is secular and the other
theological. Osama offered to assist
the Iranians (look it up) in their war against Saddam. Saddam had his own kid shot for doing much less.
Why do you think he would be so fogiving in Osama's case? While they may both hate us that does not make them unique in the
Arab world. Those are facts Tom. If you have some proof other than what some conservative idealogue surmises please share it with us.
Besides, my point was not Osama and Iraq but the fact that you guys fly off the handle at the slightest criticism of the boy king.
Why so thin-skinned? Did he think that after losing the popular vote and being annointed President with the help of an activist court and
his slippery brother, and then, after 9/11, taking his penchant for secrecy and cronyism to levels Nixon could only dream of, that he would be
above criticism? You guys want a prediction? We aren't going to war in Iraq after all. No, when things get difficult and the boy king's head starts
to hurt from thinkin' too much, he'll simply make believe Iraq complied with his demands and declare victory and go on home. Why go to war now?
He has already taken his victory lap. Why bother?
There's not that much difference at this stage though between being an Islamicist and an Arab nationalist. See Mark Bowden's excellent profile in Atlantic Monthly for why Saddam and Osama could be useful to one another.
okay, so if the islamists don't support saddam... then the left should stop all their hysterical warnings about the "arab street" rising up when we hit iraq right?
i mean, why won't osama and his followers cheer us for our actions?
Saddam went to war with Iran... but hid much of his air force in Iran when the Americans came a-callin' if he'd kiss an make up with Iran, why wouldn't he kiss and make up with Osama, who's only sin (in his eyes) was offering to aid the country he just kissed and made up with? Saddam put "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" in the national vocabulary.
Whether a difference exists or not is
beside the point. We are discussing Bush and his penchant for stretching the truth. Bush called Al Qaeda Iraq's "forward Army". There is simply no basis in fact for that charge.
It is representative of this whole adminstration's shallow thinking. Ideology masquerading as policy...
To Henry Hanks,
Who cares what the Al Qaeda spokesman says or thinks. Nothing would make me happier than to see
all of them impaled. They are the guys that attacked us. We should be
scouring the globe for these guys and killing them wherever we happen to find them. This is where we part company. I happen to think we might find more of these bastards in Riyahd than in Baghdad.
To Mark D,
If Saddam was hiding his airforce in Iran during the Gulf War, why didn't
dear old Daddy destroy it then? We
weren't exactly the closest of allies
What's the point here anyway? We
are discussing whether or not there is any evidence of an Iraq/Al Qaeda
connection. Try as they have, no one has been able to provide one.
While we are rattling our sabers over
Iraq, Al Qaeda is re-arming and planning their next attack. Destroying the Saddam regime will not change that. It will however sap valuable resources from the hunt for Al Qaeda.
Nothing will do more to effectively reach the "arab street" than the lifeless corpse of Osama and his top leadership broadcast on Al Jeezera.
Now you're lying for the same effect as Mr. Cohen. The quote is pretty precise and exactly true as far as we can tell. Saddam would like to have al qaeda work as his forward army and has made repeated offers to Osama to make it so. If you want to be listened to when you accuse the President of lying you may have to refrain from it yourself.
Mr. Judd states "there is plenty of evidence
Saddam has made attempts to use Al Qaeda
as his forward army". This is just not true. There
are NO credible reports that I know of. There is
plenty of wishful thinking but other than the overactive
imaginations of several conservative hawks there is nothing
to connect the dots. What we have is the opinions and
suppositions of the Richard Pearle crowd and not much else.
Nick: OpinionJournal today has quotes from the mouth of George Tenet, long-time partisan Democrat and current head of the CIA...I assume he has more intelligence gathering at his disposal than you do.
"*Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including those of high rank.
"*We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade.
"*Credible information indicates that Iraq and al-Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.
"*Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
"*We have credible reporting that al-Qaeda's leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
"*Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of a relationship with al Qaeda, suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action."
Nick: In your response to me, I'd have little to disagree with your "facts" as they are in fact true, up to your insipid ad hominem about my "thin skin". Let's try to use terms of discussion slightly above the elementary taunting level. JW's last provides a good basis for a factual discussion, in this light.
BTW, OJ stands for Orrin Judd, so telling OJ what Mr. Judd said is a new angle on schizophrenia.