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August 27, 2006

I Could Try To Explain It, But It's Really Too Complicated For Someone Like You To Understand

From a town hall meeting with Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and William Cohen on February 18, 1998 in Columbus, Ohio:

QUESTION: I have a question for Secretary Albright. Why bomb Iraq when other countries have committed similar violations? For example, Turkey has bombed Kurdish citizens. Saudi Arabia has tortured political and religious dissidents. Why does the U.S. apply different standards of justice to these countries? What do you have to say about dictators of countries like Indonesia, who we sell weapons to, yet they are slaughtering people in East Timor?


ALBRIGHT: Let me answer that. I suggest, sir, that you study carefully what American foreign policy is, what we have said exactly about the cases that you have mentioned. Every one of them has been pointed out. Every one of them we have clearly stated our policy on. And if you would like, as a former professor, I would be delighted to spend 50 minutes with you describing exactly what we are doing on those subjects.

Saddam Hussein on trial for the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds:

Yesterday in Baghdad Saddam was called to account for the crimes, but he remained defiant...

Asked to plead guilty or innocent on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, Saddam offered brazen defiance. "That would require volumes of books," he answered.

Posted at August 27, 2006 07:13 PM | TrackBack

Now what in tarnation is all that there above about? Is that some new form of Web attack or just some geeky loser amusing himself? Or both?

Anyway, as to your post. Nice job in juxtaposing those quotes.

Our leaders are always so befuddled with the simple logic that results once you remove Axiom One of American Foreign Policy Logic: Everything done by the Unites States is and has always been done with the most humanitarian and democratic of motives.

Once you remove Axiom One: one is forced to recognize this previously irreconcilable logical statement: "Democracy-leaning" "Autocrat" "struggling to improve his country's human rights record" = dictator = "Communist-sympathsizing" "Tyrant" "who brutalizes his people"

And BANG! For them it's the equivalent of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem!

Posted by: Rojo at August 27, 2006 08:25 PM

Oh. All that there above done disappeared.

Posted by: Rojo at August 27, 2006 08:26 PM

There does seem to be an astonishing resemblance between Albright and Saddam.

How convenient it must be for these folk to be doing something that is too complicated for mere mortals to comprehend. It is so surprising to me that the very same people, that being leaders and politicians, who I have thought of as shallow, stupid, greedy, social climbing prancing peacocks who have been polluting the air with their outgassing are so capable of maneuvers that are incomprehensible to the laymen and of course we should all just bow or heads in awe inspired reverence to the mighty ones who's goals are so lofty and convoluted that we just know it is for our own good like children in the presence of omnipotent and mysterious adults. You will understand when you are older, trust me.

Ray McGovern has the answer to this problem of complication.

Because many in the administration and Congress feel strongly that coerced confessions constitute the "best practice" to get truth from people suspected of bad things, then, under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, American citizens should be permitted to use the same method to pry the truth out of their elected representatives.

One such method is waterboarding: strapping someone to a board and pushing him underwater to make him feel like he's drowning. Since then-CIA Director Porter Goss assured Congress last year that this was a "professional interrogation method," not torture, citizens should be permitted to bring splintery planks, leather straps and water tanks to expedite discussions with any member of Congress who continues to insist that things are going swimmingly for the U.S. military in Iraq.

But guess what, not only is all of this way too complicated for us but we cannot be trusted with any information which, of course, is for our own good as well plus it has the added bonus that conservative voters will never, ever have to think again!

Legislation aimed at criminalizing the disclosure of classified information is a threat not only to whistle blowers and the press but to Congress's exercise of its own oversight function as well.

So you can see the Albrights and other leaders just want to save us from threats which I think is mighty considerate of them.

And here is why we are all too stupid to understand what our leaders are doing.

WASHINGTON - The government awarded 70 percent of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, says a House study released Thursday by Democrats.

The report, a comprehensive overview of government audits on Katrina contracting, found that out of $10.6 billion in contracts awarded after the storm last year, more than $7.4 billion were handed out with limited or no competitive bidding.

In addition, 19 contracts worth $8.75 billion were found to have wasted taxpayer money at least in part, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the report. It cited numerous instances of double-billing by contractors and cases of trailers meant as emergency housing sitting empty in Arkansas.

Posted by: rob payne at August 27, 2006 09:51 PM

for shame, mistah Schwarz-- everybody knows democrats are good and republicans are bad. Don't you realize you're not going to invited to the next New Republic cruise for writing these inutterable things! Even Peter Beinart can't save you now!

...or is it unairable...?

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at August 28, 2006 12:49 AM

That statement was from the same Madeleine Albright who asked Colin Powell "What's the use of having the finest military in the world if you can't use it", right? They called their invasion and occupation of Kosovo a 'humanitarian campaign' instead of a war and it has been an ongoing conflict since 1999. They bombed civilian targets such as the Chinese Embassy, hospitals, TV and radio stations, continued to bomb Iraq's No-Fly Zone on a daily basis since 1992 and killed tens of thousands of civilians in the name of God and Country.

This seems to have set a perfect example for the Bushanistas to initiate their own current quagmire without even having to disguise the terminology under the auspices of 'humanitarian campaign.' Instead, BushCo uses fear-mongering from one preventable terrorist incident that now reeks of complicity from inside the White House Terror State, especially since the occupation was based on lies and deception.

There is no limit to what levels of deception war criminals will go to in order to justify their own particular Holy Crusade. It doesn't matter which party intitiates it since both are controlled by the same Military/Industrial complex corporations whose misinformation is fed constantly to an ignorant electorate that always accepts as truth those nasty conspiracy theories spewed from the government's propaganda machine.

I would be delighted to spend 50 minutes with Madeleine to describe exactly what we're STILL doing on those subjects, but that would require volumes of books!!!

Posted by: JLaR at August 28, 2006 04:50 AM

That Albright lady (whom I prefer to remember as Aldim) almost won my heart back when with her comment about children and "that's a price we're prepared to pay". But, she only implied that offing the rascals was permissible: she didn't go on, as W. C. Fields also failed to do, which was to explore the difference between tots lightly boiled or lightly fried, and which was preferable. Diletants both. That is what I don't understand.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at August 28, 2006 08:27 AM

Let me risk opproprium and mockery by poining out that those are not exactly parallel bold statements. The first is

This has been answered elsewhere, and in about 50 minutes--which we do not have right now and right here---I could walk you through it.

the second is

It is effectively impossible to answer this question because it would require *volumes* books.

I don't know how fast you read, but to me volumes of books is not remotely the same thing as "50 minutes which I don't have right now."

The first is condescending in tone, and the latter is gruesomely useless rhetoric. If she were slightly less self-important and slightly more web saavy she might have better answered, "please see www." andI daresay whitepapers of hers and her colleagues on the matter do exist. You may not agree with them, but they are probably there.

It does go to the heart of the matter though. Our foreign policy is going to suck as long as we don't take a frequent and direct interest in it. "Any form of sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" is something that's been used to on political science (!) to confuse us.

Posted by: Saheli at August 28, 2006 06:27 PM

Opprobrium. Yes. You called?

Posted by: rich at August 29, 2006 02:08 AM

Opprobrium, Ohio. It's a suburb of my home town of Columbus.

Posted by: JLaR at August 29, 2006 04:13 AM


I enjoyed your post as that is a good point about how humanitarian the war mongers always claim to be. Not that anyone should choke on the humanitarian aspect of war.

As I was reading different columns earlier I noticed a few times people mention how pointless wars are but you know that just is not true at all. Wars are never pointless because there is always a reason that wars are begun. I almost said occur but that would not be true either as they just don’t materialize out of thin air. Wars are always started by states and we should not forget what Sy Hersh spoke of concerning the planning of the war against Lebanon happening well in advance of the time it began.

I would not waste 50 minutes on explaining what the government is doing to Albright because she already knows what the government is doing which is why she postures and obscures the issues.

A basic truth is that there are no wars that benefit the masses they only benefit the few. For example looking at Iraq it has been bad for almost everyone except Bechtel and Halliburton who have profited by the war in Iraq. It is always wise to follow the money which is easy to do because there is always a path of blood a mile wide.

Posted by: rob payne at August 29, 2006 07:02 AM

Let me risk opproprium and mockery

No, no, there will be no opproprium and mockery. Just gentle disgreement, followed perhaps by SEVEN DECADES IN A REEDUCATION CAMP HIGH IN THE ROCKIES.

Whoops, sorry. I meant to just say gentle disagreement. Forget the reeducation part. (FOR NOW!!!)

Anyway, I maintain these are almost exact parallels. Here's why:

1. They're both saying �oh, sure I *could* explain it, but it's really, really complicated."

2. Where we differ is that you believe Albright (or the State Department) does in fact or would answer these questions somewhere, while Saddam never would. I maintain that the State Department has no more intention of answering the questions than Saddam did.

For instance, Albright said she would be happy to meet with the questioners for 50 minutes to discuss those issues. Did she? Of course not. That was just something for her to say to avoid answering an awkward question.

And are there State Department white papers? Sure. But there are also volumes of Saddam's speeches. The white papers answer these questions to just about the same degree as Saddam's speeches answer the question he was asked.

So generally speaking, I think you're falling into a common nice liberal trap here. Sure, the world is complicated. But these people aren't interested in a far reaching discussion of the world in all its complexity. When they say "it's complicated" it's just because they're cornered and need to buy time before they can be helicoptered off to their mountain redoubt. When it serves their purposes the world will somehow become extremely simple. Just look at the rest of the transcript of that event—things only get complicated when U.S. foreign policy is questioned. When it comes to the need for America to bomb things, everything is straightforward.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at August 29, 2006 07:05 AM


I just used the highlighted quotes from Jonathan's post about '50 minutes' and 'volumes of books' to sarcastically point out the hypocrisy of both parties, as well as from Saddam's response to the Kurrent Kangaroo Kourt which reveals that worst War Criminals never seem to be put on trial, including Truman, LBJ, Nixxon, Clixxon and both Bushters!

I guess from now on I should preface my remarks with a disclaimer saying "This is a joke, son!" or perhaps "Attention: Sarcastic Fuck Speaking!" Or maybe use a 'designated rim-shot' by inserting "bah-dah-dump-chhhhh" to indicate a drum. Jesus H. Christ on Holy Fucking Crutch! You people are way too fucking serious here! And that is no joke!

Posted by: JLaR at August 29, 2006 07:41 AM


Actually I figured you were kidding and I was just making a statement.

I agree, there seems to be a lot of over reacting going on here. Must be a full moon.

Posted by: rob payne at August 29, 2006 08:08 AM


What is REALLY COMPLICATED is how the nation-state as the basis of society has outlived its welcome. It is this paradigm that is the enemy and makes tyrants of men and women alike.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at August 29, 2006 11:40 AM