Saturday, September 17, 2005

An Open Letter To Christopher Hitchens.

Mr. Hitchens,
I heard you debate Mr. Galloway the other day, and I have to say that I was quite impressed by your presentation. Not really with the weight of your arguments, but with a certain inability to be honest with the audience.

I find it quite strange how a man who so highly admires George Orwell could pen this “A War To Be Proud Of.” It seems to me that despite war is sometimes necessary to maintain one’s freedom and autonomy, it is never anything to be proud of, nor would I suggest that any war in the history of mankind ever was.

That aside, I find it remarkably disingenuous to compare the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib under American control with the same prison under Saddam. For one, the American public simply has not seen all the evidence of what has happened at the prison, and currently the Bush administration is fighting like cats and dogs to prevent the American people from seeing it. The argument seems to be the administration does not wish to “embarrass” the Iraqi detainees further, by showing the American people just how brutally they have been beaten, raped, and killed. It is an argument of such repugnancy that it simply does not merit any further comment.

But given all this, the best one could possibly say is that the United States does not torture Iraqis as gruesome a manner as did Saddam. This is akin to a battered wife thinking that her husband is not so bad after all, because this time he didn’t break her ribs.

It is also dishonest to suggest that Saddam Hussein (the aggressor against Kuwait) shared a “deep and abiding hatred” of the United States. Prior to Saddam’s invasion of it’s southern neighbor, Iraq was indeed our ally. Even from his jail cell he has said that he deeply misses his friend Ronald Reagan.

Before Saddam invaded, the United States had declared victory in the Cold War. There were pressures for the American People to finally enjoy a peace dividend. The Defense Department saw it’s spending cut, and further cuts were in the works. The George H.W. Bush administration needed a war, and needed one quick.

It is true that Saddam was faced with leading his nation into another war, hoping this time it might be successful. However, when Saddam asked the US ambassador to Iraqi, April Gillespie, if an invasion of Kuwait would be an issue, Gillespie said, “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Gillespie went on to say, “[Secretary of State] James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.”

Would Saddam ever have invaded Kuwait if at that moment the Bush administration had told Saddam straight out that if you were to invade you would see your support from the United States disappear and your presidency overthrown? I hardly think so.

During the Indonesian occupation and genocide in East Timor, Suharto was only able to act as long as liberal and conservative US presidents kept the arms flowing. The occupation was dealt a death blow overnight with a single telephone call from President Clinton. That set in motion Timor’s independence, and a new democracy was born. The same could have been done in the case of Saddam invading Kuwait, but George H.W. Bush had ulterior motives.

I am further appalled that no matter what the circumstances, that you could say that “Osama bin Laden did us all a service” in the attacks on 9/11. I remember the horror of that day quite starkly, as a northern Virginia resident I spent much of that morning hoping loved ones weren’t dead. 8 people from my hometown of Woodbridge and dozens of others in nearby communities weren’t so lucky.

One thing that is genuinely overlooked by the neoconservatives, such as yourself, is that as despicable as the Talliban was, they at least brought some order to the place. They may not have permitted Afghans to own pet parakeets and to watch television, but they also didn’t permit them to grow poppies. Since that time poppy production has soured, and heroin hooks and kills more New Yorkers every year than bin Laden had ever hoped. Unfortunately, the United States made the mistake of aiding that Talliban in Afghanistan (just as it once aided Saddam, as well as Osama bin Laden), and paid the price for that colossal blunder. The United States continues to blunder as today it supports the Talliban-style government of Uzbekistan - who are quite fond of boiling dissidents alive - as well as Turkey, whose oppression against the Kurds is right up there with Saddam’s own exploits.

You are correct that the United States managed to overthrow the Talliban in Afghanistan, but it came with a price. It behooves one to recall that it was the Talliban who threw the Bush administration a bone, and offered to turn bin Laden over to a third party. Had Bush not foolishly declared that negotiations were not on the table, the terrorist attacks on the UK and Spain would likely have not happened. And while the Talliban no longer controls Kabul, they do control much of the countryside.

And you are again correct that Saddam’s Iraq had invaded its neighbors - with US assistance - and committed genocide on its own soil - namely the 1988 gassing of the Kurds, with US supplied WMDs. Those facts are inarguable, as they are well established fact. However, if these are the conditions for which a nation is to sacrifice its legal sovereignty, than I dare say that Saddam’s Iraq is not alone in the world. Given that the United States has repeatedly invaded nations around the world; has stood as the only nation guilty of aggression by the International Criminal Court; had committed genocide on its own soil on a level that would have made Hitler cringe; harbored numerous wanted international terrorists in Boston, New York City, and Miami; and has illegally given weapons to third world dictators in violation of US federal law; then should the United States be stripped of its sovereignty?

I realize that you, Mr. Hitchens, have a general distain for religion, but why are you so eager to acknowledge the splinter in Saddam’s eye, when there is an entire Home Deport lumberyard in your own? It is true that a few scattered terrorists made Iraq their home, but one could say this of with some certainty of every nation on earth - perhaps with the exception of Greenland. That is hardly a reason to suggest that Saddam was harboring terrorists. If one is to be honest, you should recognize that the primary funding for terrorist operations originate in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Bandar bin Sultan has been a key player in this. His own wife, Princess Haifa has written numerous personal checks to those very terrorist groups you dislike so much. Meanwhile, one should rightfully recall that bin Laden and his marry band of Islamists were exiled from Saudi Arabia when he sought to invade Iraq and overthrow that “socialist infidel.”

Bin Laden wasn’t the only one who attempted such an overthrow. Anslar al-Islam, which primarily operated in NE Iraq outside of Saddam’s reach, wished to see the Baathist government gone as well. A spokesman for the group said that, “we believe that Saddam Hussein, him and his ministers also, are outside of Islamist zone,” and that Saddam and his government is, “also our enemy.” The United States did al-Qaeda’s work for them by getting rid of that “socialist infidel,” and they are now there to make sure that the Islamist revolution started in Egypt and won a foot hold in Iran has now spread to Iraq. No matter what one thinks of this war, an Islamic Iraq does not spell victory.

It may be a bit cliché, but I think it is important to remember the definition of insanity is “trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Just how many ‘insurgents’ is it necessary to kill, before we realize that the US occupation of Iraq is not the solution, but the problem?

But what I find most disturbing is your argument that it is silly that we - being the United States - should never mind the consequences of being “mean” to the people of the Middle East. This argument might have some credence if one is to assume that the Iraqis are children who must be disciplined. It is the old colonial concept that we must teach the savages to be civilized. In the end that experiment ended with the “savages” wiped out, but not without them teaching us ‘Muricans fundamental lessons from the Iroquois Confederacy that has stood as the blueprint for the American system of government that we enjoy today. Similarly, we are behaving as if the Iraqis are incapable to govern themselves, but that instead we must lead them by the hand, while we drop high explosives upon their heads, because only we know how to teach them to be civilized.

It is as if a drunkard is surprised that when he spends years beating his Rottweiler that one day his dog when bite the hands that beats him. Mr. Hitchens, the Iraqi people are not children and they are not dogs, they are human beings. And while a bully may be able to chase his victim with a Lewisville Slugger for years, constantly beating him upside his head, one should be hardly surprised when one day his victim turns around and slugs him. And if that baseball bat was big enough, and the beatings lasted long enough, one should hardly be surprised to one day see that bully beheaded. After all, the flight or fight response is a basic element of human nature.

Another, more wiser than I said it more eloquently,

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alva Goldbook.


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