"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." --John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The Eminent Media

Why do Democrats and the media (is that redundant?) insist on asserting that Bush claimed Iraq was an "imminent" threat? Here's a good example of what I'm talking about (italics mine):

By KATHERINE PFLEGER, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON - In his first public defense of prewar intelligence, CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday that U.S. analysts had never claimed Iraq was an imminent threat, the main argument used by President Bush for going to war.

It's very strange to make an assertion that is so patently and demonstrably untrue. As scores of conservative pundits have noted, the president in the State of the Union speech on January 28, 2003 said exactly the opposite:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

The media ignore this statement, continually make the baseless allegation, and never attempt to back up their claim with a quotation. And you can be sure that if that quote were out there, they would have found it by now.

I am reminded of my fourth grade teacher. One day, she admonished a student for mispronouncing mischievous. It was, said the wise Mrs. Mack, pronounced miss-CHEE-vee-us. I racked my eight-year-old brain, trying to understand how it could be pronounced that way when there was no "i" after the "v", and finally I came to the conclusion that there must be phantom letters in the English language. I have since discovered that there is a scientific name for Mrs. Mack's slip-up. I can't remember the term, but it has nothing to do with dyslexia. It is the same phenomenon that causes people, such as a certain Leader of the Free World, to prononounce nuclear as nucular.

(As an aside, Bush is roundly criticized for this mispronunciation. It is worth noting that President Carter also pronounced it as nucular, and he was trained as a nuclear engineer!)

I am also reminded of David Letterman, who on his show one night, after the premiere of the movie The Late Shift, said (I'm paraphrasing), "Paul, did you see this movie? The actor playing me had bright red hair! Paul, my hair's not red, is it? How could they have gotten this wrong? I mean, it's not like there's no videotape of me!"

So Mrs. Mack was convinced that mischievous had four syllables instead of three, the makers of The Late Shift were convinced that Letterman's hair was red and not sandy, and the president's critics are convinced he said something he never said. People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

The administration's critics also maintain that WMDs were the main reason given for going to war. It's not unreasonable to claim that it was the reason that was highlighted the most. But let's not for a second pretend that it was the only reason. Here are some excerpts from the president's September 12, 2002 speech to the U.N. General Assembly. None of these points is the least bit controversial (italics mine):

-"Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation."
-"Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights."
-"Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments."
-"Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President."
-"The Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge."
-"The regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents."
-"Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger."
-"Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause."
-"He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel."
-"With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow."

In the words of British foreign secretary Jack Straw, "Were we to do nothing? Nothing?"

And in the words of military historian and classics professor Victor Davis Hanson, "The amorality is not that we took him out, but that after 1991 we waited about 100,000 corpses too long."