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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Safire or Satire ?

This must be a parody of William Safire.

"U.N. weapons inspectors whose reputations rest on denial of Saddam's W.M.D. pooh-poohed the report. "It doesn't strike me as a big deal," said David Kay."

David Kay was appointed chief of the Iraq survey group by George Bush. He would more accurately be described as "the Bush administration's former chief weapons inspector."

"Besides, say our lionized apostles of defeat, a poison-gas bomb does not a "stockpile" make." Names please ? I understand this is an op ed but quotes should be quotes. Also arguing that Iraq did not have WMD might make one an apostle of not invading. I don't see what it has to do with being an apostle of defeat. This is an effort to conflate criticizing Bush with supporting defeat, that is equating dissent and treason. Since Safire is a self proclamed civil liberties type, he couldn't have possibly written such a thing unless he is both a hypocrite and an idiot.

"In this rush to misjudgment, we can see an example of the "Four Noes" that have become the defeatists' platform." After one sentence which does not insult the basic principles of democracy, Safire is back to equating critics of Bush's decision to invade with defeatism. Surely Safire knows that the word "defeatist" is useful only to chicken little civil libertarians who suggest that people like this clumsy parody pseudo Safire are enemies of free debate.

"when the pendulum has swung, and it becomes newsworthy to show how cut-and-runners in 2004 were mistaken — logic suggests we will see a rash of articles and blockbuster books to that end." No longer anti democratic he has become a clairvoyant. He suggests that it will be possible to show how the cut and runners in 2004 were mistaken, that is, his crystal ball tells him not only that he is right but that it will be agreed that he is right. Note again the conflation of criticizing Bush for hyping evidence and advotating cutting and running. Has he noticed, for example, that the editorials which run on the same page as his op eds do the first and do not do the second ? I won't waste pixels listing all of the commentators who attack Bush for exagerating evidence on WMD but don't advocate cutting and running. I just note that they seem to be in the vast majority to me.

"These may well reveal the successful concealment of W.M.D., as well as prewar shipments thereof to Syria and plans for production and missile delivery, by Saddam's Special Republican Guard and fedayeen, as part of his planned guerrilla war — the grandmother of all battles. The present story line of "Saddam was stupid, fooled by his generals" would then be replaced by "Saddam was shrewder than we thought.""

This is pure wish fulfillment fantasy. No evidence is presented. It is just argued that, since we can't be sure of anything, we can't be sure that Safire is dreaming. Indeed, I am no more sure that Safire has abandoned contact with reality than I am that the sun will rise tomorrow.

"This will be especially true for bacteriological weapons, which are small and easier to hide."

This asserts that the wished for future revelation will be at least partly true of chemical weapons. The hope has become a certainty. Safire knows his way around the English language. If he intended to say that such revelations are especially likely for biological weapons he would have used the present indicative or the conditional as in the preceding sentence. He is making a grammatic error in his effort to trick the reader that something that might happen is something which will happen to a greater or lesser extent.

To make this clear isolate verbs other than those in quotation marks
" may ... reveal ... would ... be
... will be ". See begins with may adds a would be then passes to will be moving from hypothetical to certain without intervening evidence.

"In a sovereign and free Iraq, when germ-warfare scientists are fearful of being tried as prewar criminals, their impetus will be to sing " as it is now yet, in spite of strong incentives they are not describing the location of WMD in song. This couldn't be because they know of no locations of WMD could it ?

"Defeatism's second "no" is no connection was made between Saddam and Al Qaeda or any of its terrorist affiliates. This is asserted as revealed truth with great fervor, despite an extensive listing of communications and meetings between Iraqi officials and terrorists submitted to Congress months ago."

Note again that criticizing the invasion is equated with defeatism. Note again that no one in particular is quoted. Safire's unquoted unnamed opponent evidently speaks with great fervor. Who are these people ? I am familiar only with the claim that there is no evidence that Saddam was working with al Qaeda. Contacts between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda in the early 90's are well known but ot the same thing.

" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who escaped Afghanistan to receive medical treatment in Baghdad. He joined Ansar al-Islam, a Qaeda offshoot whose presence in Iraq to murder Kurds at Saddam's behest was noted in this space in the weeks after 9/11. ... Osama's disciple Zarqawi."

The alleged medical treatment was the amputation of his leg. The film of Berg's murder demonstrates that Zarqawi has two legs. The claim that Zarqawi received medical treatment in Baghdad is "asserted as revealed truth with great fervor" by Safire. However neither he nor anyone else has presented any evidence. The claim is based on unreleased US intelligence. As Safire reluctantly notes above, this intelligence has proven to be other than completely reliable.

Safire neglects to mention the facts that Ansar al Islam operated in Iraqi Kurdistan and was separated from Ba'athist controlled Iraq and that its base of operation was on the border with Iran making it very likely (strange as it is) that it was supported by Iran. The claim that Ansar al Islam acted on Saddam's behest is made without a shred of evidence or a hint of doubt. Finally Zarqawi has always been independent of Bin Laden not his disciple.

"The third "no" is no human-rights high ground can be claimed by us regarding Saddam's torture chambers because we mistreated Iraqi prisoners. This equates ... We flagellate ourselves for mistreatment by a few of our guards"

I know of no westerner who equates abuse of prisoner's by the US with Saddam's crimes.
"Iraqis know the difference."
I wrote no one then corrected it to no westerner when I remembered that I had read qutoes of Iraqi's making exactly that claim. I actually think that Iraqis know the difference, but some have gotten carried away and denied it. The claim that US crimes are the responsibility of a few of our guards is certainly unproven and appears unlikely. Safire summarily rejects the conclusion of Major General Taguba who knows a bit more about the matter than he does.

"The fourth "no" is no Arab nation is culturally ready for political freedom and our attempt to impose democracy in Iraq is arrogant Wilsonian idealism."

Some people think this, and there is some overlap with the people who state the 3 previous no's. However, it is not useful to conflate the groups. Also some think that there are some countries which can achieve democracy on which it can not be imposed. They don't exactly explain how democracy was imnposed on Germany and Japan, but their argument is certainly not racist.

"n coming years, this will be blasted by revisionist reportage as an ignoble ethnic-racist slur."

Certainlty about the future again. Of course Safire might be declaring that he intends to blast this as an ignoble ethnic-racist slur. It is safe to say that if almost everyone agrees with something, some revisionist will argue the contrary. so safe as to be pointless.

"Iraqis will gain the power, with our help, to put down the terrorists and find their own brand of political equilibrium."

here again a confident claim about the future which doesn't amount to much. It's a long way from democracy to "political equilibrium". Saddam's regime was a political equilibrium. Safire does not argue that the future one will be better or that it will be reached without massive bloodshed.

All in all an excellent parody. A bit overdone but it does embody all of the possible faults of an essay which come to my limited mind. I'm sure that, but for the 700 word limit, Safire would have managed to parody rhetorical tricks, dishonest arguments, insults in the place of arguments and other possible defects of an essay beyond my limited imagination.

However, 700 words is all I could stand to read anyway.

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