Well, Baghdad has been liberated for days, and — far from being blasé — I’m still grateful, aren’t you? Nothing wrong with it, no matter what NPR says.
Donald Rumsfeld says so many sound, inspiring, and interesting things, it’s hard to keep up with them all. I was particularly struck by the following:
“To the Iraqi people, let me say this: There are a lot of reporters embedded with coalition forces in your country. The reporters should be interested and willing to listen. This is your opportunity to tell them your stories so that history properly records the viciousness, the brutality of that regime, and so that history is not repeated. To the free reporters and journalists in Iraq, this is your opportunity to listen and report. It is an historic opportunity for journalists. This is also true for Iraqis here in America, who can now speak freely to the press without concern about their families and friends still in Iraq.”
These are brilliant points. I sincerely hope that journalists take their “opportunity.” Let’s watch together.
If you’re like me, you probably hoped that Hans Blix was a decent man. A little befuddled and naïve, yes, but decent, and on the side of civilization, in the broadest sense.
But then his extreme bitterness at the liberation of Iraq would have deflated you. He accused President Bush and Tony Blair of “fabricating evidence against Iraq.” He said that the “Anglo-Saxons” simply had a bad “attitude.”
No matter what the Right says about the U.N., it’s usually — sadly — true. Or worse.
How about Gen. Amer al-Saadi, that beauty? He was Saddam’s “top scientific adviser,” and he surrendered to the Allies. Note this from a report by Gersh Kuntzman in the New York Post:
“Recently, al-Saadi was the public face of Iraq’s supposed cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors — but a decade earlier, the British-educated, German-trained scientist helped his country build a chemical testing range near Baghdad.
“He courted German assistance with the project because ‘you Germans have great expertise in the killing of Jews with gas,’ he told Karlheinz Lohs, a chemical-weapons expert from the former East Germany, in 1991.
“Lohs added that al-Saadi wanted to harness Germany’s ‘knowledge’ to ‘destroy Israel.’”
Ah, what a lovely world.
You no doubt have your favorite examples of bitterness, resentment, and dismay at the Allied liberation of Iraq. Here is mine, or one of them.
Ms. Maya Sen, a national organizer of Not in Our Name, was none too happy. The pictures of jubilant Iraqis disgusted her. As reported in the New York Sun, she huffed, “I was appalled to see the footage and the coercion the U.S. and U.K. military have put on the people of Iraq. It’s a little hard not to do what they tell you to do when they are armed with machine guns.”
The pattern holds true: Apologists for tyrants always accuse their opponents of doing what the tyrants themselves do. It is a perfect mirror image, or something.
When I beheld the grousing of Democrats at the Allied success — e.g., Howard Dean’s saying he “supposed” it was good that Hussein was overthrown — I thought of something that Jeane Kirkpatrick told me, about Nicaragua. Violeta Chamorro beat the Sandinistas in an election. Jimmy Carter and others acted like their dogs had just died. Kirkpatrick said, “You would have thought democrats would be happy.”
You would have thought, yes. But the important thing is that “the Right” — including democratic liberals — never, ever be comforted.
Even Democrats who had supported the war were a little churlish about what had occurred. Here’s what Joe Lieberman’s spokesman had to say: “While [the senator] was without a doubt one of the most vocal and clear Democratic voices [vocal voices!] supporting ending Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical regime, that does not mean that he unilaterally supported the way in which President Bush went about achieving this goal.”
The spokesman’s language was confused — in more ways than one — but we get his drift, I think.
After 9/11, I wrote that, upside-down as the world was, the liberals could return to one, familiar, comforting thing: hatred and bashing of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. It let them know that some things were still intact. They did not have to jettison their past lives and thought altogether.
And who is the Falwell/Robertson of this season? Halliburton. Yes. You can see it in their cartoons, for example. Bush might have gone ahead and destroyed an evil, people-killing, hope-killing, love-killing machine: but they’ll always have Halliburton, won’t they? “Blood for Oil” lives on.
Thomas L. Friedman, the world’s best-loved, most-honored Middle East commentator, penned another pearl the other day. He said that Arabs had seen the “strength” of America but not the “goodness” of America. In part, that’s because of the Arab media. But in part, “it’s because America has used its power [in the Middle East] more to defend oil and Israel than democracy.”
Hmmm. Which is the only democracy in the Middle East? How, exactly, is defending Israel incompatible with defending democracy? And in freeing the Kuwaiti people from the deprivations of Saddam Hussein, were we really defending oil, exclusively? Do Kuwaitis themselves feel this way?
And what Arab democracy, pray tell, should we have been defending, instead of oil?
But then, his Pulitzer prizes will keep rolling in, for talk like that.
Speaking of the New York Times, David E. Sanger wrote that Rumsfeld “seemed to be looking toward the next fight when he twice warned Syria to mind its manners.” Ah, so that’s what he was doing! Not telling Syria to stop harboring war criminals, arming (fellow) tyrannies, and fomenting terrorism — but to “mind its manners.”
Language is ever-so-revealing of attitude.
Look, when Arabs kill Jews, in modern-day pogroms, the Left (broadly defined) almost always blames Israel. Arab acts of murder, perversely, excite the anti-Israel impulse. The Jewish state is blamed for simply being around — there to be killed, and to make its opponents look bad. And when Fidel Castro cracks heads, the Left almost always blames Cuban democrats, human-rights activists — and people like me, who support them.
The response to the recent horrors in Cuba has exemplified the pattern. The “liberals” (I always wince to write that word, in the contemporary fashion) have pounced all over those they consider “right-wing.” They’re not upset that democrats and independent journalists have been summarily jailed. They’re upset that Castro’s actions have spoiled the accommodationist agenda, and marred the image of the revolution.
David Gonzalez wrote an analysis in the New York Times. He ended with a quote from Brian Alexander, of the Cuba Policy Foundation. (This means that the author agreed with the quote — that’s why the article ended with it.) “Painting Castro as the bad guy could very well lead to the triumph of the hard-liners in the Cuba debate.”
Painting Castro as the bad guy? You see, it’s not Castro himself; it’s his unreasonable enemies.
Charlie Rangel was peeved mainly that the crackdown made it harder for people like him to continue to defend Castro: “They [the Communist regime] know how to support their enemies and get rid of their friends.”
Ponder that statement for a while, in all its implications. And if you’re still charmed by good ol’ “Chollie,” you are . . . well, different from me.
And another Democratic congressman, Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, said, “There is a parallel here between this administration [the Bush administration] and the Castro government. They are both going backward.”
That one ended a David Gonzalez New York Times article too, folks.
And so on, and so on.
I wish to remind readers of the website supporting Jian-li Yang: It is found here. Jian-li, remember, is the Chinese democracy activist who has disappeared into some PRC dungeon. He was seized on April 24, so the anniversary of his arrest is coming up. His supporters are holding vigils across the country on April 24 (and at least one — in Boston — is on April 25). Details can be obtained on the site.
Jian-li’s wife, Christina Fu, is an American citizen — as are their children — and I spoke to her the other day. She is in good spirits — as good as can be expected. I will say once more: The U.S. government must not take its eye off this extraordinary fellow. Neither will we.
Try some mail:
“Jay, I am a Marine Major who is right now in Iraq (gotta love technology). I wanted to add my two cents on the feeling of liberating Iraq. I have met and seen hundreds of Iraqis while I have been here. Never have I witnessed a people so ‘gosh darn’ happy to see Americans. Mothers holding their small children up so they can see and wave to the Americans, women blowing kisses at us, kids literally running to the roads as we pass by just so they can see their liberators. It makes the weeks we’ve spent in this desolate, hot, sandy hellhole worth every minute!
“God Bless & Semper Fi . . .”
“Dear Jay: Two points on Iraq. First, I own a restaurant (a Dairy Queen) and overheard some teenagers discussing the war while sitting around after their meal. They appeared to be about 16, 17 years old. The gist of their comments was that Saddam was an evil monster who needed to be removed from power.
“What impressed me is that these youngsters, raised in a culture steeped in relativism, post-modernism, and ‘diversity,’ were able to grasp the concept that it is we who have the moral high ground. We cannot forget that. The war protesters, the Ted Ralls, the Chiracs, et al. have taken the cowardly low ground. While Bush is too polite to point that out, it’s refreshing to see people like Dennis Miller level the Left for their squeamish, whiny anti-American rhetoric.
“Last [and here's the money quote], I am asked at the restaurant whether we’ve renamed our French fries ‘freedom fries.’ My response is always, ‘No, I kinda like dipping French things in boiling oil.’”