micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
Please send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holmquist's full archives are listed here.
Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)
Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
U.S. Information Minister George W. Bush
Former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf has become the butt of many a joke in the United States due to his daily briefings during Operation Iraqi Freedom that didn’t correspond to reality. welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com, for instance, is filled with both actual quotes from Sahaf and pop culture parodies that have him denying that Enron has ever engaged in wrong doing and stating that Microsoft software don’t contain any bugs.
But while Americans like to laugh at the falsehoods peddled by the former government of Iraq, many seem perfectly willing to accept misleading and illogical statements from their president.
“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” George W. Bush declared Thursday evening on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, at sea off the coast of San Diego, California. In theory this announcement would be a significant event but it seemed more motivated by political considerations that on the ground conditions since nothing resembling “major combat” has been seen in Iraq in weeks and just hours before Bush’s speech Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a similar announcement about Afghanistan, a country where victory by the U.S. is generally seen to have been accomplished nearly a year and a half ago.
Just as the Bush Administration feels that it can declare wars over when it is convenient, they also apparently feel free to talk about when wars based on what serves their interests. Team Bush has alternated between saying that the war that is now known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is a continuation of Operation Desert Storm, as Bush did on March 17 amongst other times, and saying that Operation Iraqi Freedom is a continuation of the conflict that started on September 11, 2001. “The battle of Iraq,” the president said on Thursday, “is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on.”
Despite having said that the U.S. is still at war, Bush also talked on Thursday about how “we will defend the peace.” In an odd way, perhaps this makes sense in the context of Bush’s vision of a “war on terror” where the U.S. is constantly attacking other countries but expects no attacks against it.
Bush also talked at length about the precision capabilities of U.S. weaponry. “Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent,” Bush said while neglecting to mention the sanctions that the United Nations imposed on Iraq in a move the U.S. could have blocked, which last year were conservatively estimated to have played a role in the premature deaths of 100,000 Iraqis. I guess most of those deaths don’t fall under the timeline that Bush was using at the time, although by that standard it is hard to see why Bush thinks former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime was “aggressive.”
Although it goes without saying that the U.S. could never be aggressive, one has to wonder why Bush said on March 6 that “Across the world and in every part of America, people of goodwill are hoping and praying for peace” yet in this victory speech talked about how this was a war for freedom in Iraq and how “Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air.” If this is true, it seems impossible to imagine how a person “of goodwill” could not only oppose this war but not be pushing Bush to be using the U.S. military to “liberate” the people of all sorts of countries from oppressive governments, even if the Bush Administration has ties those governments.
Bush came across as nothing short of idiotic during a passage when he tried to assure whoever was paying attention that the U.S. did not aim to be an empire. “Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight,” Bush said to soldiers who cheered in response. I would like to believe they were just happy to be returning to the U.S. and didn’t actually fall for this logical fallacy, since the idea that some U.S. soldiers are returning form a foreign land mean the U.S. doesn’t have imperial goals makes as much sense as a prison warden saying, “We don’t incarcerate people. Just this morning two prisoners left here.” If that weren’t enough, Bush even talked earlier in the speech about the U.S. would be remaining in Iraq for at least a fair amount of time. None of this proves that Bush wants an empire, but it doesn’t do anything to disprove it either.
The president didn’t neglect to mention the weapons of mass destruction that may or may not have ever existed in Iraq. “We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated,” Bush said at one point. Later he added, “No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more,” which would be impressive if there was any reason to think Saddam’s regime had any intention of doing that.
Almost everything Bush said on the aircraft carrier was affected by how vague his administration has defined the “enemy” in the “war on terror.” The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on,” said the 43rd president of the U.S. on Thursday. ”That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions.” What this “hateful ideology” is exactly was left unclear in a way that makes it possible for just about any government or group the Bush Administration dislikes to be included. Quite possibly that is intentional.
I doubt the Bush Administration actually believes its own rhetoric. Bush may or may not be intelligent enough to figure out the problems with it, but surely some of those around him can. If they do believe it, they are idiots. If they don’t believe it, they are manipulators of the highest order.
This manipulation of logic and reality by an executive administration to fit the political needs of that administration is just the sort of thing U.S. citizens like to laugh at, if it comes from the government of another country. When it is coming from the President of the United States of America, however, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that a majority of people in the U.S. have no problem with it.