Cripes! With the news media announcing victory over the hapless Iraqis, the right wingers and '"liberal hawks" are dancing in the aisles. Finally, we can start imposing liberal democracy over there at gunpoint! Yippee! (Just like we did in Afghanistan!) Evidently a war is considered successful, or a "cakewalk," if American casualties remain low. If at all possible, I'd like to spoil the party by mentioning that a lot of innocent Iraqis did die (and are still dying) horribly. After watching the newscasting insaniacs on Fox the other night (I tried to avoid it but a friend of mine had me over for dinner and watches it "ironically") I came home and made myself look at some of the pictures on the web of people mutilated and burned beyond recognition by our military--what Fox would never show us. I'd been avoiding this kind of material but after an intense dose of jingoistic shouting I suddenly felt the need to see what my tax dollars were paying for. I'm posting a link here; I'm not saying anyone else has an obligation to look. But in response to Nat Hentoff, an old-school liberal who smugly announced he "would not be marching" because we needed to make Saddie the Baddie our business (forget all the torturers in the "coalition of the willing"), and to all the "liberal hawks" enabling Bush & Co--when I look at these pictures, I can't get around the fact that Saddam didn't do this, we did.

- tom moody 4-09-2003 6:49 am

I try to look at these pictures when I can. We're spending billions and dropping thousands of major munitions. On some of the more intense days, we've spent more than $500 M just on tomahawks. And now we're shooting at hotel buildings with tanks to take out snipers. Can we be far away from the Israeli example of using F-16's to take out individuals in crowed apartment buildings? Just one JDAM or tomahawk fired against an American city would set of a firestorm of public opinion to retaliate by dropping another thousand munitions on someone, somewhere. Yet to many Ameicans, Baghdad is just a video game.

I'm amazed at the level to which the government will go to shut out Arab media. So we like these Arabs, right? And our troops are dying to liberate millions of them? Yet we shut out their media? So we want to help them, but not understand them? Maybe Paul W. can explain. Perhaps Paull thinks it's enough that the Iraqi leadership understand the US.

- mark 4-09-2003 12:44 pm

All politics aside, who's right? who's wrong? it does seem that our methodology for removing this oh so bad man is rather sickening. I mean really sickening. And I haven't even looked at the pictures. And all those Pentagon spokespeople reminding us that war is bad but be patient because its all gonna be better is like a bad dream. Terrible bad.
- jimlouis 4-09-2003 3:44 pm

I've been looking at such pictures too these past couple of weeks. I guess I think it's my duty as an American.
- steve 4-09-2003 6:17 pm

Hentoff's not being smug, he's coming at this thing from the position of human rights: Saddam is a murdering, raping tyrant who needs to be taken out. I admit to brief feelings of hope as I read the article that maybe Hentoff is right, maybe what we're doing over there is a good thing. Halfway through the article my views returned. "Oh yeah, America's history of regime change in the Middle-East isn't really very successful (TP-AJAX) and tends to breed animosity, many more stand to die due to our meddling, the PNAC wants to take over the world yadda yadda yadda.
While I respectfully disagree with Hentoff I give him credit for believing what he says he believes. If only the cynical neocons would follow suit...

- steve 4-09-2003 6:59 pm

I'm being hard on Hentoff (here's his essay) because this is a New World now--it's not Clinton time, when we had the luxury of debating what to do with our HUGE post-Cold War standing army: "I know--why don't we use it to stop tyrants and end massacres?" That's where the liberal hawk position emerges, and it's dated, dated, dated now that lib'rals have been purged from the government. The people running the show may talk "liberal democracy" but they're strictly Empire of Jesus. I know Hentoff is a caring soul, but he should be smart enough to see what's happening.
- tom moody 4-09-2003 7:16 pm

Great--the US prison population just passed 2 million. That's 1 out of every 142 people in jail. Probably half for "drugs." We really need to get our own human rights house in order before worrying about others'.
- tom moody 4-09-2003 7:44 pm

Also, Hentoff assumes that not participating in a protest is his choice to make: he might not realize how un-free we've become in that regard. Here's a report on the arrest of peaceful sidewalk demonstrators across the street from The Carlyle Group's offices on Apr. 7.
- tom moody 4-09-2003 11:41 pm

Hentoff has always been a great civil libertarian so I'm sure he realizes what's going on. He was one of the earliest and most passionate voices against Ashcroft's early manoeuvers IIRC.

I do agree that the media coverage here is deplorably jingoistic; that the ostracism of Al-Jazeera is foolish and counterproductive; and that Christian and racist overtones are clearly mixed up in the ideology of this war.

There was never any real understanding of the cost of sanctions to the Iraqi people either (if there had been, perhaps we might have decided to resort to armed force even sooner as the toll mounted). And sadly, one has to fear that media coverage of life in post-war Iraq will not bring new levels of cross-cultural understanding to our fair country. All true. All bad.

When it comes to Hentoff's specific position on marching or not absent a clear anti-Saddam message, I think there is a historical background that may be relevant.

Let's remember that for decades the honest, idealistic, progressive left in this country actually, really, truly was...shall we say, _captivated_, either emotionally or financially, by Communism. This includes, of course, the widespread and long-term denial of the brutality of Stalin's regime.

The effort to construct a position that was anti-racist, anti-corporate, and anti-imperialist, while still being anti-Stalinist was a long, difficult, and I would say very valuable struggle, mostly led by Trotskyite socialists, with a few guys like Joe Rauh whom we would call neoliberals now.

Hentoff has been around for some time. He remembers the old left. And I'm betting that there's a resonance in the memory of the contradictions, complications, and danger of a counter-hegemonic movement that refuses to see the difference between two sides -- or, worse, ends up glorifying the wrong one because it's closer to the injustice on the other end. That hasn't happened with Saddam, but it did happen with Stalin, and it certainly could happen again (there may be shades of it in the anti-Zionist refusal to face up to Arafat's failures and crimes, for instance).

- big jimmy 4-11-2003 2:36 am

I'm not sure how relevant the dilemmas of the Old Left are here. Very few marchers were looking to Baathist socialism as some kind of model government.

This was basically a private fight between Rumsfeld, Cheney et al and a former anti-Communist, anti-Iranian asset who got uppity, kind of like Noriega. The rest of us just got dragged into it. WMD, torture, all that, was just a pretext. (Our government likes torturers.)

I wasn't in the "containment is working" camp--sanctions were the Democrats' passive-aggressive answer and, like the war, they hurt ordinary Iraqis. Since Rumsfeld & Co. had old scores to settle, they should have just masterminded a coup--the kind of thing they do so well--instead of saddling Americans with two wars and a 51st state.

Obviously we disagree on the cost-benefit analysis of the war. A lot will depend on whether Bush uses his renewed popularity as a mandate to do more horrible stuff.
- tom moody 4-11-2003 6:42 am

Here's a nice, suitably angry recap of how we made Saddam. Not sure it was necessary to kill thousands of Iraqis in order to unmake him (far more if you include deaths due to the sanctions), but one thing's clear at least; they've sufffered enough from our help.
- tom moody 4-17-2003 8:01 am

Thank you Steve and Big Jimmy:

I've been a fan of Hentoff for quite some time now. He is a unique voice who will just as easily stand up to the corruption and ineptness of the United Nations as Ashcroft's Patriot Act (which John Kerry did vote for). I find it so sad that most people in this country (Red or Blue) seem to ignore nuances and any news item that goes against there parties line. Ummm.... where are the Big Ole' headlines in the NYTimes on the UN? And of course, those photos you posted are not on Fox News.

For this reason I usually do not talk about politics with New Yorkers, and on the other side of the fence, with Christian pro-lifers the likes of my Uncle Charlie. Tom, you say the "old left" is no longer relevant, but I find the extreme anti-americanism and anti-zionism in this country that romanticizes Arafat while comparing Bush and Sharon to Hitler comparable to the romantic ideology of bygone days that heralded Stalin, as did our beloved Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

I do however, believe this war was a mistake. However, I'd love to see you post something on the United Nations or Kofi Annan & Co, Tom.... Obsessing on every little piece of U.S. bullshit grossly creates a painting that is out of context. There's a whole lot of bullshit out there, let's try and connect the dots without knowing what image will come up.

Also, so funny you mention your friend watching Fox News ironically. I'd prefer it if he were watching with "disgust". Irony. Now THAT is smug.
- maudeline (guest) 11-27-2004 5:03 am

Smug, or a defense mechanism to keep from screaming. Not sure where I romanticized Arafat, other than to note that he was the Palestinians' elected leader. The slur against "New Yorkers," implying we're (i) all left-wing and (ii) anti-American, is not appreciated.

- tom moody 11-27-2004 5:54 am

fess up, tom. ive got pictures of you selling i (heart) yassir t-shirts down by ground zero. if you love palestinians so much why dont you move to gaza.
- dave 11-27-2004 6:01 am

I didn't say New Yorkers are all left-wing and anti-American. And I certainly don't believe this. I did, however, imply that many New Yorkers (i.e. of the city) are narrow-minded and will happily ignore nuances and news items that don't toot their party line, just as Fox News does, as you so clearly demonstrated with your photographs.

But I have to ask, are you friends with any Republicans or Libertarians? Or even centrist Democrats? I find many New Yorkers unable to converse (except via blog) intelligently and without foaming at the mouth, with people of different political persuasions.

Oh, and I also didn't say that you romaticized Arafat, unless you consider yourself to be a part of "extreme anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism"....

And Dave-
So sardonic.
- maudeline (guest) 11-28-2004 7:45 am

I was wondering where all this Kofi Annan stuff was coming from at the time these last comments were posted--now I realize it's the latest ginned-up right wing talking point to deflect attention from Bush's screw up in Iraq. Here's Scott Ritter (who was right about the war, so we should listen to him) on the real oil for food scandal.
- tom moody 12-14-2004 2:27 am

add a comment to this page:

Your post will be captioned "posted by anonymous,"
or you may enter a guest username below:

Line breaks work. HTML tags will be stripped.