Just How Cynical Is George W?

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Mr. Carpenter holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Illinois and is a syndicated columnist. Please consider contacting your local newspaper to carry his column.

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We have all heard 43's rhetorical drumbeat of "coalition" forces having remedied matters in The Evil Empire's latest incarnation. Said empire - or rather regime, regime, regime; another of his drumbeats - is now well on its way to beatitude. We can thank not the towering behemoth of the U.S military for this deed, but the sainted "Coalition of the Willing."

In the beginning Bush claimed this vague international federation simply refused to tolerate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction any longer. When these bugaboos proved to be more rhetoric than reality the coalition, with much greater ease than one might have imagined, then decided Saddam's internal brutality was far more intolerable. Beastly weapons begone from message; enter the good guys' unfailing humanitarianism.

This much we all know. We also know it's a crock.

The coalition's vaunted, forty-odd count of mostly inconsequential nations was as laughable as it was pathetically symbolic from the get-go. (Best laugh yet: One coalition member's prime minister was unaware of his country's involvement until a reporter called for comment. The little nation of the Solomon Islands has since withdrawn its mysterious membership.)

Further, suspicious White House hype about stockpiled WMD soon revealed itself as more than just your garden-variety ballyhoo. It was outright deception. Not one molecule of Saddam's anthrax or mustard gas or even foul-smelling deodorant spray was unearthed in the war's aftermath. Nor will it be, assuming, that is, Rummy doesn't airmail it first.

Yes, that debate is over, dear Bush apologists. You were egregiously - though willingly on your part - misled all along. The debate is over and done with since, lo and behold, administration officials now admit they never really expected to find illegal stash. Saddam's WMD were a lovely pretext to muscle their way into the Middle East, redo it, and in the process scare the bejesus out of the world by demonstrating American military power. This they disclose only after the sale. You want sleazy? Don't look to American Airlines' very former CEO. The true pros of sleaze reside at the White House. As president, a little hanky-panky will get you impeached. But murder thousands of innocents, expend a few hundred uniformed American boys and girls, con the public to the tune of God-only-knows how many billions of dollars and naturally, you're hailed as a leader.

Worsening the swindle still, piece by piece we learn that behind the curtain of fabricated hysteria sat calm insiders marking time until Dick and Rummy coughed up their benevolent graft.

Again, all this has been reported - in print, at least - and the focus of many an op-ed page. But there was another, equally offensive crock that went largely unnoted by the press, perhaps from exhaustion as it toiled to keep up with all the other crockdom gushing from Bush II. I venture you won't be surprised by this underreported transgression, however.

It's our constant companion: The president's brazen, but casual, hypocrisy.

I said you wouldn't be surprised.

His hypocrisy has become so routine it's barely even newsworthy these days. We simply expect it, so it no longer qualifies as an interesting development to be reported. Nevertheless, what should have been newsworthy - indeed, profoundly striking - about this particular hypocritical go-around was its global scale.

Before a puzzled world, the president turned on a dime and quickly hustled the revisionist reason for demolishing a non-belligerent country; that is, the "coalition's" determination to snuff out Saddam's human rights abuses. Yet the freedom-loving coalition he assembled contained some the world's most notorious human rights abusers themselves. How, with a straight face and no shame, 43 could boast of a coalition teeming with Saddam-like cutthroats and torturers staggers the mind and offends every sense of decency.

According to the latest annual reports issued by Human Rights Watch - a nonpartisan organization as tough on Iraq as anyone - America's new-found ally of Albania, for instance, winked at "violent attacks against journalists" in 2002 and condoned "widespread … torture and physical abuse of detainees," including children. Even worse, if that's possible, Albania was a "major point of transit" in the "trafficking of human beings. Most victims were women and girls trafficked for forced prostitution and children trafficked into forced labor." Albanian officials dismissed these accusations as an "issue of illegal migration rather than a serious human rights violation." Nice fellas, no? And we count them among our friends - all of whom, Bush instructed, detested Saddam's cruelty above all.

Down south we had as a coalition participant the upstanding nation of Colombia, where "paramilitary groups operating with the tolerance and often support of units within [the formal] military were linked to massacres …, selective killings and death threats." In Africa, one hopes we'll always have Uganda as an allied human rights advocate. Yet it seems that in 2001 its "elected" regime dispensed "torture and state-sponsored violence against opposition supporters," and the following year "broke up a peaceful rally … by firing on demonstrators with live ammunition." Next door in Rwanda the government "demonstrated continuing hostility towards political dissent, press freedom and an independent civil society" as it steamed, as promised, towards righteous democracy. Uh-huh.

Space limitations prohibit HRW's grim tales of other coalition countries, such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ethiopia and Uzbekistan - the latter of which the watchdog group said only 2 months ago "is distinguished by human rights abuses on an epic scale." What's more, many of the countries recently criticized by our own State Department as inhumane, and in some cases labeled as "serious human rights" abusers, were - you guessed it - happily included by Bush in his coalition to end human rights abuse in Iraq.

While the president's right-wing base dutifully applauds his every behavior no matter how odious, his cynical hypocrisy in the course of this crock is offensive beyond words to honest patriots. They yearn for at least a smidgeon of ethics in the White House. It is nothing less than tragic that they'll have to wait 2 years or 6.

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Homer Simpson - 5/5/2003

Reading the stark raving idiocy of men (and although I am not a feminist, I must point out that all of the correspondents to this site are men) is a constant source of wonder.

Most of you need a good spanking. Not that it would help.

Ah, for the good old days when idiot intellectuals kept their mouths shut out of fear that decent men would take them to the woodshed for a good beating.

Do you have to be an idiot to be a history teacher, or do you get lessons once you enter the profession?

Mr. Bush is smarter than any of you dunces. Quit embarassing yourselves, shut up and give up. He will continue to defeat and humiliate you.

After all, none of you has the intellect to compete.

NYGuy - 5/4/2003

Derek I thought you had addressed your May 3 post to me, sorry if I misunderstood.

Subject: RE: HNN Political Policy
Posted By: Derek Catsam
Date Posted: May 4, 2003, 9:34 PM
NY Guy -- Since your last post arguing against God knows who followed one of your own posts, it is hard to know who you are addressiing. Who on this list professed ignorance? And who put you up as an authority?

Subject: RE: HNN Political Policy
Posted By: Derek Catsam
Date Posted: May 3, 2003, 7:05 PM
NYGuy -- I claim ignorance? Once again, you posit that the troops are less safe if we criticize -- even if we criticize falsely, which obviously is problematic -- and then you think that assertion stands as evidence. It does not. How are the troops less safe because we are arguing on an arcane website about possible errors that some troops or their leaders may or may not have made? You saying something is does not make it so.

Derick: I have quoted enough “authorities” whose comments were knowingly false and put the life of our troops overseas in greater danger. Therefore, I must confess that I don’t want to be called that name, and cannot acknowledge being an "authority".

I think we have a misunderstanding if as you ask: “How are the troops less safe because we are arguing on an arcane website about possible errors that some troops or their leaders may or may not have made? You saying something is does not make it so.” Since I did not say or argue what you wrote, it automatically “ does not make it so.” I expressed many other points, which I have discussed with other posters on this board.

I appreciate getting your insights and opinions and look forward to them in the future since I enjoy communicating with those who are willing to take a stance on a topic, even if we might disagree. Hopefully in the future I can be clearer with the arguments I am trying to make since I would like to hear your opinions.

Hopefully we will see you, and Boston in NY in the fall.


Derek Catsam - 5/4/2003

NY Guy -- Since your last post arguing against God knows who followed one of your own posts, it is hard to know who you are addressiing. Who on this list professed ignorance? And who put you up as an authority?

NYGuy - 5/3/2003

I accept your admission of ignorance. So we have nothing to discuss. Since you are ignorant of what "noted historians" have said about the looting of the Baghdad Museum and who blamed Rumsfeld, the DOD, the U. S. Government and the U. S. military and which comments were published in the New York Times, and other major U. S. and International newspapers. and which comments were circulated around the world, and picked up by the Mid east media as well as other foreign media, we are unable to communicate.

Again these comments were made before Baghdad had been captured, fighting was still going on, there was a threat of suicide bombers and the city had not yet been fully stabilized. In addition I did cite other media outlets for this false propaganda such as in the case of the Hofstra historian who went on TV and also blamed the military and the U. S. Government for the looting. As an aside, I don't think the war has yet ended, but other my differ.

To get a quick idea of the false propaganda that was being spewed out by "noted historians" see the article by Professor Keith Watenpaugh under Historians as Activists on this site. It contains much of the spin that was published. I believe this was originally printed in the New York Times around the time of the looting. Among the accusations he makes is the following:

”What happened in Baghdad over the weekend is cultural genocide and responsibility for it must lie with the US. The failure to protect an occupied country's national heritage is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.”

“I personally cannot escape the conclusion that this monumental tragedy for Iraq's national history was the result of Rumsfeld's willful ignoring of all the warnings received and the unilateralism with which the Anglo-American forces proceeded. I put most of the blame on the civilians at the head of the Department of Defense.”

Another example: Tom Abate, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 12, 2003):
One irony in Wednesday's images from Baghdad, said Christine Knoke, assistant curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, is that the statue-destroying Iraqis and U.S. soldiers were collaborating on the destruction of an idol -- an act endorsed, in certain contexts, by fundamentalist Muslims and Christians alike.

And on the current Professor Pipe’s article, which you commented on, he reports:

The Bush administration, say academic specialists on the Middle East. they proceed to compare American leaders to some of the worst mass-murderers in history.

· Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University: U.S. political leaders are "destroyers of civilization" like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
· Michael Sells of Haverford College: They are "barbarians" whose "criminal neglect" makes them comparable to Nero.
· Said Arjomand of the State University of New York (Stony Brook): The U.S. government's "war crime" renders it akin to the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258. See his “article” on HNN two weeks ago.

To deliberately misrepresent and demean the U. S. Government and military without knowing the facts and falsely accusing them of misconduct, including the outrageous quote given in a prior post that "the U. S. military stood around for 48 hours and watched the looting", does increase the danger to the troops. Having the honor of serving my country overseas that is my opinion and may only reflect a cowardness on my part. You may be right that those troops who are alread under fire and already in great danger may not note the difference. Unless some misguided suicide bomber who has been inspired by the irresponsible quotes of sit at home americans weere to wound him or kill one or more of his buddies. Then it might make a difference. Thus for historians and others who mindlessly spout off false facts about the military during war time it is not unreasonable to assume they are putting U. S. troops overseas in greater danger. Many consider such activies as un-American and unpatriotic. You may know of the case of Jane Fonda.

If you want to take this further, check Yahoo, Google or other sources to see what false and inflammatory rhetoric was being used by activist historians.

Evidently none of the above is meaningful to you and your argument is that historians make false and misleading comments, which is part of what historians do, and since their comments are meaningless no one pays attention to them anyway. As I said I did not know this and it seems your argument carries the day.

Now, let us get back to my initial point on this thread. Those who edit this site have great control over whom they permit to publish, such as Professor Carpenter, and how they edit the site, and editorial control determines the political philosophy of a newspaper or a website. Many had assumed that the purpose of this site was to discuss topics of interest to the history profession and give other historians a chance to debate the issue. That is why I pointed out the editorial decision to list the following:
News Abroad
NEW Falluja in Perspective Joshua Brown.

This is not a news article, but a leftist piece of propaganda. By the way do you know what the cartoon means? I thought it meant that as in the U. S. by shooting civilians, people could achieve an outstanding democracy for their country.
However, the editorial board evidently believes that the message is too important to discuss, and there is no discussion section. Further it seems to assume that the readers do not possess the knowledge and educational background to discuss it. And of course it must not be overlooked so it masquerades as another article on the current Iraqi situation so it gets special attention. Therefore HNN must present it as dogma, similar to the editorial decisions in China and other dictatorships. Of course you point that “hnn also publishes the tripe of a number of conservatives” so I can see that perhaps they do have a fair and balanced approach. ,

Remember the Twin Towers and our troops overseas.

Let's keep them safe.

NYGuy - 5/3/2003

My answer is yes I agree such a person is unamerican and unpatriotic. My advise to you is to get out of the country because I am sure the gastapo is closing in on you and your family and your life is not worth a plug nickel. Thanks for your courage in telling me Tom and Good luck. Write from China and let us know how you are doing.

Best Wishes


Tom Kellum - 5/3/2003

Do you consider it unpatriotic and UnAmerican for a member of the military to go AWOL (for the last two years of his commitment...which, under the UCMJ is desertion) and then, as Commander in Chief, start two aggressive wars?

Especially, if it is true that he went AWOL? Never mind that he was banned from piloting U.S. Military aircraft after refusing to submit to a required medical exam (which would certainly have shown that he had snorted-up half of Peru).

Derek Catsam - 5/3/2003

NYGuy -- I claim ignorance? Once again, you posit that the troops are less safe if we criticize -- even if we criticize falsely, which obviously is problematic -- and then you think that assertion stands as evidence. It does not. How are the troops less safe because we are arguing on an arcane website about possible errors that some troops or their leaders may or may not have made? You saying something is does not make it so.

NYGuy - 5/3/2003

There is another current answer to your question. One of the soldiers has been accused of commiting an atrocity in Iraq. While like all good liberals I don't want to prejudge him and presume he is innocent, but I do think that "accurately accusing a member of the U. S. of illegal or immoral behavior overseas is appropriate.

I should modify my previous answer, if you are asking should someone, go to a country we are at war with, as Jane Fonda did, and falsely accuse the U. S. of illegal or immoral behavoir which would put our troops in greater peril, I would answer no. And I would add many people would consider such conduct unpatriotic and unamerican.

LM - 5/3/2003

Thanks, NYGuy.

NYGuy - 5/3/2003

Well one has to be careful of what is being said since the issue has become confused and distorted. What is being discussed here is not U. S. policy per se, but rather that part of the policy, which involves the military in action in Iraq, during a highly dangerous and confused period and at a time when the Baghdad museum was looted. And at a time when the troops are still fighting and trying to stabilize a highly dangerous area which was known to have suicide bombers and other rebellous parties that could be easily inflamed to uprise against the troops.

Meanwhile, many of the facts of this situation are only starting to come out two weeks later. This did not prevent many from deliberately and immediately, misrepresenting the U. S. military and government role, which was portrayed, as solely and deliberately, failing to stop the destruction of thousand of years of Iraqi civilization. Further it was asserted that those in charge felt no pangs of guilt about the atrocity that had occurred because they put oil interests ahead of culture.

This issue has been well discussed on this website and I won’t go back over it. I will say, however, that the responsible historians did not want to politicize this issue and immediately made it known that the museum was looted by well organized gangs that had been looting in Iraq for over 12 years. Even now you will see well known historical organizations in this special field asking for help in recovering the artifacts and working to prevent future looting, who are not accusing the U. S. of looting, failing to prevent looting or other misconduct. This includes the UN report in Paris, which was written soon after the looting.

Remember the U. S. military undertook to protect over 4,000 historical sites and not one was bombed or looted. Actually because of the U. S. efforts archeaologists can now make giant leaps forward since they will be able to explore the roughtly 5,000 sites of which only about 10-15% have been explored. And they can do it without the organized gangs that have looted these sites in the past, and were stealing their discoveries.

On your first question, however, the answer is yes. To deliberately misrepresent and demean the U. S. Government and military without knowing the facts and falsely accusing them of misconduct, including the outrageous quote given in a prior post that "the U. S. military stood around for 48 hours and watched the looting", does increase the danger to the troops. Yes, I believe that this comment and the other false accusations do increase local hostility and unrest that not only threatens the life of our troops in Iraq, during a period of hostility, but also in the Mid-East and other spots in the world where our troop are stationed.

Actually your second question: “do you agree that accurately accusing the U.S. of illegal or immoral behavior overseas is appropriate?”, has already been discussed on this website. Both Derek Catsam and Bill Heuisler discussed My Lai, and in this case I would answers in the affirmative. But, I believe this issue was not resolved while the troops where still fighting, but after the war. I am not positive, however, and stand to be corrected.

Remember the Twin Towers and our troops, Let's keep them safe

LM - 5/2/2003

Just to be clear, you're not asserting that disagreeing with U.S. policy in Iraq in and of itself puts troops in danger, but rather falsely accusing the U.S. of illegal or immoral behavior. Is that correct?

If so, do you agree that accurately accusing the U.S. of illegal or immoral behavior overseas is appropriate?

NYGuy - 5/2/2003

I am not a Yankee fan and would share your joy in a Boston victory over the Yankees. Unfortuneately they would then have to meet my team, the New York Mets.


NYGuy - 5/2/2003

Sir I have stated my position clearly and have not called anyone names. You say you are a historian but claim ignorance about what is going on in the world. For many they don't know that there are foreign lands outside of the U.S. and are unable to look at broader issues. If we have U. S. troop stationed around the world, and particularly in Iraq they are in greater danger than they are in the U. S. When supposedly intelligent individuals go out of their way to make false inflammatory charges, such as "the U. S. military watched for 48 hours as the Baghdad Museaum was Looted", it only increases the risk to our troops. But you don't see that. So any false propanda can be used because it is part of the historical process. Funny, I never looked at this way. Of course this was a cartoon and it conveys not political message to the world. I believe people who do not consider the troops and lie and falsify facts for their own personal philosophy do put them in greater peril. I never called anyone unamerican or unpatriotic. I did say that I know many who percieve this type of inciteful rhetoric as unamerican and unpatriotic. This does not make them unpatriotic or unamerican and many such as yourself may well applaud their actions. But differences of opinion is what democracy is about. So believe what you want.

By the way the U. S. military is now investigatng a situation which is not MyLai, but a possible atrocity. So you see there is room to critize the military based upon facts not political propaganda.

Derek Catsam - 5/2/2003

Look, hnn also publishes the tripe of a number of conservatives, so I don't see this pernicious agenda. You also have this tendency, my anonymous friend, of making assertions without evidence. How on earth is something posted on HNN undermining our troops? Concrete, actual evidence -- this is what historians and others traffic in. If you do not have any, than you are using it as a cheap ploy to try to determine what is or is not appropriate speech or writing. If you have this evidence, it would seem beholden upon you to cite it before accusing those who disagree with you of somehow harming our troops. It is easier to be more patriotic than thou. It is herdar, though, to substantiate why your patriotism is better than those who disagree with you. And before you go along with another one of your tirades cloaked in the protective cloth of anonymity, let us keep in mind that I supported this engagement publicly and coherently, if after much soul searching, so you'll have to dig a bit deeper into your regular sack full of personal attacks for this one.

It's NYGuys like you, by the way, that will make the eventual Red Sox World Series victory even sweeter than it will already be!

NYGuy - 5/2/2003

How can you expect any better out of Mr. Carpenter when HNN editors add the following to the reading list: NEW Falluja in Perspective Joshua Brown, and when you click on you get a carton, with no written analyis, and are exposed to a piece of leftist propaganda which only incites our enemies overseas and puts our troop in greater danger. It is obviously too important a point to allow so called educated men to comment on, so no room is shown for comments. But, the end justifies the means, even if means putting U.S. troops in greater danger.

Alec Lloyd - 5/1/2003

Mr. Carpenter's seems to be looking for a cloud in the silver lining.

One of the more odd threads in the new anti-Bush argument has been to denigrate the allies on the Coalition. To bash France or Germany is "simplistic" and playing to "jingoism," but lambasting the military lightweights who joined with us is somehow clever and sophisticated.

Mr. Carpenter, is this the hypocrisy you speak of?

As noted before, WMD were merely one of many good reasons to oust Saddam Hussein. Curious that a group of people who pride themselves on their compassion and humanity are now stuck arguing over legalisms. What about the "big picture?" Is Iraq a better place without children's prisons or should we apologize to the master torturers and give them their tongue-ripping pliers back?

The recurring point of Mr. Carpenter's columns (and the world-view they epitomize) is their fundamental unseriousness.

Israel is a poor ally because a majority of dictatorships in the UN enjoy condemning it. Russia, however, is an important one, despite its use of indescriminate artillery barrages in Chechyna.

The modern left has no plan and no vision; it is the intellectual equivalent of an irate drunk ranting at the television because the right team isn't winning.

Instead of seriously engaging in a debate about ideas, it resorts to ad hominem attacks, name-games and dark conspiracy theories that would be pefectly at home in a Lyndon La Rouche broadsheet.

One need not be a card-carrying Republican to find this bizarre obsession with "neocons" a little disturbing. What are "neocons?" Are they part of the International Jewish Conspiracy? Maybe we should re-examine the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

When ostensibly serious left-wing thinkers begin to parrot the Arab News, something is amiss.

Mr. Carpenter has no blueprint or reason behind his rants, only an overpowering hatred. One can argue where, why and how Iraqi WMD were placed, moved, produced and apparently destroyed. Interviews with the scientists are ongoing and it is a signal irony that a movement urging an unlimited time frame for Hans Blix to verify Iraqi disarmament now has set a two-week deadline for the Administration.

Hypocrisy is indeed, present, but not on the part of George W. Bush.

HNN should reconsider devoting valuable broadband to an author whose reasoning skills and ability to maintain a logical and credible arument would be found wanting by even the most modest daily newspaper.

Herotodus - 5/1/2003

after rereading this "article" and the vehement posts added by Carpenter's defenders (allies?) that for many it is more important that Bush be proven wrong, about something, anything, than that it be celebrated that the Ba'athist regime has gone, that another country capable of supporting Al Qaeda or other terrorists has been returned to the 'good side' of things, that Ansar Al Islam's stocks of botullinium and sarin have been destroyed, and that hundreds of children have been liberated from Iraqi children prisons for not joining the Hussein Youth.

Doubly so it is incredible that this opposition comes from people who purport to be historians, for whom the very _first_ rule is that there is a whole hell of a lot more going on than we know about. Thus we haven't the faintest idea yet about the state of the search for the weapons of mass destruction, the truth of the looting of the Baghdad museums, or the battlefield/tactical/operational and strategic importance of the various allied forces in the coalition.

Arch Stanton - 5/1/2003

At last, an entertaining subthread. The illiterate, offended by the antique, interpret the cryptic.

DGH - 4/30/2003

So how does this work? Bush is a fool to use the e-word (i.e. evil). But if Joey G. uses the e-word, it's okay. Seems like Bush and his critics can agree on one thing -- moral superiority.

Richard Kurdlion - 4/29/2003

P. M. Carpenter only grazes the tip of the iceberg. The ex-post excuses for this Bin Laden-fantasy-fulfilling war are swamped by the titanic hypocrisy with which the American public was conned into stepping aboard this sinking "neo-conservative" ship.

Israel has more weapons of mass destruction than Saddam ever dreamed of, and a longer record of gross violation of UN resolutions.

Saudi Arabia is a flagrant abuser of human rights and the main source of 9-11.

The ignorant but briefly honest candidate who said "we don't do nation-building" has thrust America into the mother of all nation-building programs.

There are plenty of other hypocrites in Washington (on both sides of the aisle). But four or five hundred wrongs don't make a right.

Joey G - 4/29/2003

Interesting, the server chopped off the second half of my post, which was to say that Mr Carpenter's strong sarcasm gets tiresome,
that carping is not insight or information, and that spleen venting is ineffective polemics.

That aside, Bush is evil, naturally, and the war will be rued by most all, someday. Anyone who can't see that watches too much T.V.

BushLeagueBlog - 4/29/2003

Dr. Carpenter writes: "Saddam's WMD were a lovely pretext to muscle their way into the Middle East, redo it, and in the process scare the bejesus out of the world by demonstrating American military power. This they disclose only after the sale."

I was in total agreement up to that last bit. The neoconservatives' intentions were on the table before they even came to power. Neither purported weapons of mass destruction nor alleged terrorist ties were at issue; even the Saddam regime was explicitly stated as irerelevant. See:


Read the names on the "Statement of Principles" page. Read the PDF file "Rebuilding America's Defenses." Published when Bill Clinton was still President and the World Trade Center still stood, it is a manifesto of the people who now run the Defense Department (wich ought to go back to its old name, the War Department, considering its current posture). The document runs to 70 rather dense pages, but see it through. If it doesn't scare you to death to have these warmongers in power, I don't know what would.


Joey G - 4/29/2003

I go to smirkingchimp.com on a regular basis for pointers to new, but more and more these days I bypass articles like this one.

I agree with Mr.Carpenters position, ( Bush bad, War bad, Bush liar, Major media lazy and cynical...etc

BushLeagueBlog - 4/29/2003

OK, here's Mr. Carpenter's second paragraph, annotated for the benefit of dead Greek historians who don't read English pretty good:

In the beginning (during the run-up to, and initial days of, the war)

Bush (the 43rd President of the United States, the Uniter, the Compassionate Conservative; also, coincidentally, an adjective meaning low-class, but I think the former is the primary reference)

claimed this vague international federation (the "coalition of the willing")

simply refused to tolerate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction any longer (the threat posed by the presumed WMDs was given as the prime justification for the war).

When these bugaboos (imaginary objects of fear)

proved to be more rhetoric than reality (the WMDs, as the Administration knew all along, were insignificant to nonexistent)

the coalition (of the willing),

with much greater ease than one might have imagined (considering the weight that had been put on the WMD argument)

then decided Saddam's internal brutality was far more intolerable (transforming a war of preemptive defense into an ivasion to liberate the Iraqi people from their own despotic government).

Beastly weapons (WMDs)

begone from message (the spin);

enter (into said message)

the good guys' (the coalition's)

unfailing humanitarianism ("liberation" of Iraq).

Speak up if you need it broken down any further.


Herodotus - 4/29/2003

I'm not sure it's really worth the time engaging all of Mr. Kriz's interesting, and frequently ad hominem, comments.

For example, suggesting the Poles were smuggling cyanide in their polska kielbasa is just silly.

So I'll just let his remarks stand on their own. These and others are by Mr. Kriz are certainly eye-opening.

Herodotus - 4/29/2003


Stephen Kriz - 4/29/2003


You really lack that "vision thing", don't you? Reading your critique of P.M. Carpenter's article, I feel almost sorry for your inability to understand basic rhetorical devices like hyperbole, metaphor, allegory and simile. It must be like having a learning disability. It seems that so many conservatives suffer from this condition, maybe some enterprising neurologist should undertake a study of this condition and we could rid the world of annoying conservatism forever!

Anyway, addressing your points, using "George Bush" instead of "43" would be ambiguous, wouldn't it? There have been two men named George Bush (unfortunately for us) who have served as president. "43", while slang, is shorthand and more specific than the former. I'm sure you showed no similar compunction about using slang names for William Clinton.

As happens so often with conservative apologists, your historical knowledge is also flawed. Ronald Reagan did in fact, use the phrase "evil empire" on at least one occasion, in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida on March 8, 1983. Here is the link:


To help you understand the article better, Mr. Carpenter was also not trying to indicate the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein was the "successor" to the former Soviet Union, but rather the latest incarnation of a "bogeyman" that conservative politicians just love to use to scare Americans into spending obscene amounts of tax dollars on the military. Get it?

I won't quarrel with the usage of the word "beatitude" other than to say Mr. Carpenter probably intended to mean that Hussein's regime is likely going to be more revered than it should have been, thanks to Bush and his laughable "coalition of the willing" and the devastation they have wrought on the people of Iraq.

Your comments about the "power of the coalition" misses the point entirely. Mr. Carpenter was pointing out that the Bush rhetoric about coalition participants was equal parts lie and exaggeration. Your high-brow presumptuousness in asserting that the Aussies caused Tommy Franks to "revise his targeting" is a joke - How the hell would you know? As far as special forces, a few Polish special forces (did they have cyanide pellets hidden in their kielbasa?) and other ragtag countries fighters did not make an ounce of difference in the outcome of this massacre. They were allowed to tag along as a media ploy, nothing more.

Your feeble attempts to critique Mr. Carpenter have the unintended effect of making you look like a fool. You had better come up with more meaty criticism and pithy comments, if you want to be taken seriously. But someone who adopts the moniker of a long-dead Greek historian to post his comments on a History News website is probably so self-indulged as to be beyond hope.

I enjoyed the article and think Mr. Carpenter speaks the truth about Dubya's hypocrisy.

Stephen Kriz

Gus Moner - 4/29/2003

Analise which, yours or Carpenter's?

Herodotus - 4/28/2003

Mr. Carpenter begins with:

"We have all heard 43's rhetorical drumbeat of "coalition" forces having remedied matters in The Evil Empire's latest incarnation. Said empire - or rather regime, regime, regime; another of his drumbeats - is now well on its way to beatitude. We can thank not the towering behemoth of the U.S military for this deed, but the sainted "Coalition of the Willing." "

It is useful to use a full proper name the first time that you use it in an article. Thus "George Bush" rather than "43".

The reference to "The Evil Empire" is unclear. If he refers to the Soviet Union before 1991, then the reference is perhaps a stretch--Reagan did not use the phrase itself, for one, and is he suggesting that Ba'athist Iraq was somehow a successor to the Soviet Union? In what way?

Beatitude is the wrong word to use in reference to the defeated Ba'athist regime. Why would someone refer to them having passed into supreme happiness as they are destroyed?

Finally, the comment regarding the power of the coalition can be seen as irony, perhaps, as it clearly lays out the basis for his argument. Still, it would be a mistake to dismiss the influence of the coalition, particularly (1) the influence of coalition commands such as the Australians, who are now known to have pushed General Franks to revise the air targeting to minimize civilian casualties, and (2) the role of special forces and coalition intelligence services, which we will not know for some time.

I invite someone to analyze the second paragraph.