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June 20, 2006

Let's Go Now To Richard Cohen For Some Imaginary History

I'm bored with all this reality crap. It's depressing. So, let's ask Richard Cohen to make up a happy fairy tale for us:

Allow me a suggestion that applies to the war in Iraq: Ritalin.

This drug for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is sorely needed. ADHD explains why few seem to challenge the call to continue the mission in Iraq, apparently forgetting that the mission has changed and no one is quite sure what it is now. It explains why after just 100 hours the first President Bush concluded the Persian Gulf War with Saddam Hussein still in power and his helicopters slaughtering rebellious Shiites and Kurds. And it explains why the Carter, Reagan and first Bush administrations so ardently supported Hussein and then -- an administration later -- made it U.S. policy to topple him. We were always forgetting the kind of guy he was.

Ahhh, that's nice. I like this story much more than the true one. Remember how Bush #1 let Saddam massacre Iraq's Shiites and Kurds after the Gulf War because he preferred to have Saddam running Iraq, instead of people who might ally themselves with Iran? And as was confirmed by the Duelfer report in 2004, Saddam actually used chemical weapons on them in 1991 while we stood by and watched?

That always makes me sad. So I like hearing about this alternate universe in which this just happened because we're really, really forgetful.

I also get sad when I think about the way we helped Saddam wipe out all those Iranians and Iraqis during the eighties for the same reason—because we were scared Iran might try to muscle in on our control of the mideast. I feel much better when Richard Cohen checks in from Bizarro World to tell us we just kept on forgetting how mean Saddam was.

What I really need now, though, is someone who can tell me a story about how America's newspaper columnists are actually wise and honest, rather than cartoonish buffoons who might as well be wearing red rubber noses and spraying each other with seltzer on Hardball.

Posted at June 20, 2006 09:19 AM | TrackBack

i think you're thinking about hannity and clowns.

on hardball, they do 8-balls of very refined white powder right before they go on air.

Posted by: almostinfamous at June 20, 2006 11:08 AM

Once upon a time, long ago, and far away there was kindly old king who was beset by a myriad of problems. The captain of his knights was an idiot and forgot to tell his armor maker to make enough armor for his knights so the evil dragon of the east burned all their asses so that they could no longer sit down.

Then to make matters worse the kindly old king started to run out of gold coins and jewels and so he needed to take the first born of every one of his peasants and sacrifice them to the evil dragon of the east because his knights all had sore asses and could not fight the dragon.

The peasants were no longer happy with the kindly old king because they needed their first born to toil in the fields and harvest the grain which the evil dragon of the east was swooping over and burning because it was what made his evil and black heart happy. The peasants wanted to over throw the kindly old King because he had done nothing but bring ills to the kingdom.

So the kindly old king in his desperation turned to his wizards and asked them to work their magic. So the wise wizards invented columnists to explain to the peasants that it was actually good that the evil dragon of the east was eating their first born, burning the knights asses and their golden fields of grain. The wizards also cast a spell on the peasants that turned their brains into peanut butter so that they would believe the columnists.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Posted by: rob payne at June 20, 2006 02:45 PM

I read that column with amazement this morning (I usually ship Cohen because he is such an asshole, but I was drawn into reading it, like rubbernecking on the highway).

Here's a clip from "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" by Bush I and (mostly, I think) Scowcroft:

"The end of effective Iraqi resistance came with a rapidity which surprised us all, and we were perhaps psychologically unprepared for the sudden transition from fighting to peacemaking. True to the guidelines we had established, when we had achieved our strategic objectives (ejecting Iraqi forces from Kuwait and eroding Saddam's threat to the region) we stopped the fighting. But the necessary limitations placed on our objectives, the fog of war, and the lack of "battleship Missouri" surrender unfortunately left unresolved problems, and new ones arose.
We were disappointed that Saddam's defeat did not break his hold on power, as many of our Arab allies had predicted and we had come to expect. President Bush repeatedly declared that the fate of Saddam Hussein was up to the Iraqi people. Occasionally, he indicated that removal of Saddam would be welcome, but for very practical reasons there was never a promise to aid an uprising. While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome."

Posted by: esaund at June 20, 2006 04:24 PM

It seems the only time I ever read Cohen or Thomas Friedman is when someone flags me to it with a comment like "Can you believe this shit?" At least this time Cohen doesn't remind the reader that he's a 'liberal' (so don't hang that 'neocon' label on me).

Posted by: Lloyd at June 20, 2006 08:34 PM

Nice to see that Cohen is sticking to his favorite lies; sad that they are not more obvious to all... Letter of mine the Post published nine years ago...

The Washington Post
Monday, December 15, 1997, Monday, Final Edition
HEADLINE: The War Against Saddam Hussein

Jim Hoagland writes that "except for the 100 hours of Desert Storm in 1991, the United States and its allies have treated Saddam Hussein's regime as an acceptable evil" ["Put a Lid on Saddam," op-ed, Nov. 5]. Similarly, Richard Cohen claims that "the war lasted, you will recall, just 100 hours" ["The Genuine Article," op-ed, Nov. 6].

I recall no such thing. For 38 days, the United States bombed Iraq with more than 80,000 tons of explosives -- more than all the conventional bombing in World War II. Targets hit included at least one major shelter as well as water and electrical facilities.

After the U.S. military bombed Iraq to a pre-industrial age from the air, an exercise The Post's columnists seem to have forgotten, U.S. forces then launched the ground assault. Since 1991, the United States has launched periodic assaults on Iraq. In 1993, it bombed the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, killing several civilians.

In many respects, the war on Iraq, if not Saddam Hussein, persists to this day. The continuing sanctions are devastating the Iraqi people. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that 4,500 children are dying every month, largely due to the sanctions that the U.S. government insists upon continuing no matter what the policies of the Iraqi government.

Media Director
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

LOAD-DATE: December 15, 1997

Posted by: sam at June 20, 2006 10:32 PM

Even after the United States had gone to war, Bush ended hostilities prematurely, preferring to leave Hussein in power rather than deal with an unruly Iraq. The "realists" unrealistically set the stage for the next gulf war. I agree with Galbraith: Had the first Bush and the blustery Norman Schwarzkopf ("You fly, you die," he said of Iraqi helicopters. They did and they didn't.) applied a bit more pressure, the Iraqi military would have taken care of Saddam Hussein. This appalling "realism" resulted in the murder of thousands of Shiites.

The first rule of warfare is kill your enemy -- or make sure, in some way, that he can no longer do you any damage. The first Bush administration ignored that rule with Saddam Hussein and now the second one has ignored it with Osama bin Laden. It allowed this mass murderer to escape, and he will come back to haunt us; it is what he lives for. Bin Laden does not suffer from ADHD.

* * * *

This column is a mish-mash of unintelligible nonsense. It would seem that the first rule of writing editorials is to kill the reader and make sure he or she can no longer think. Recent current events seem to fly right over Cohen's head. What has resulted in the murder of thousands of Iraqi is the civil war that is now taking place there because we invaded, destroyed their government, infrastructure and removed Saddam. I think everyone sees and understands that now except Cohen.

Cohen claims we keep forgetting what kind of a guy Saddam is. Really? Is that actually true? The type of guy Saddam is has never ever been an issue, we all new that he was a thug who moved his way up by murdering his opponents and than once becoming a leader he continued with genocide. If I recall my Saddam history the first thing he did after becoming a leader was to haul is political opponents off and execute them. What Saddam was has never been a partisan issue.

To say the realists set the stage for the next gulf war is not just misleading but dishonest. This seems to be critical of Bush Junior but it is a nifty way of letting him off the hook for misleading the country into an unnecessary war.

Posted by: rob payne at June 21, 2006 12:12 AM

I think the 80,000 ton figure for bomb tonnage is correct for the Gulf War or at least close (I've seen various numbers in that range), but the bomb tonnage dropped in WWII was in the low millions of tons. Kind of a nitpick, but this sort of mistake will give certain people the excuse they need to ignore the rest of the letter. Well, they'd find some other reason to ignore it, so maybe it is a nitpick.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 21, 2006 10:54 AM