The Left Hook! Archive


Thurs., Aug. 29, 2002

We're Back, & Before Us Looms Iraq

" those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of goodwill to remain silent in the face of evil."
--Attorney General John Ashcroft
    Dec. 2001

"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship...the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
--Hermann Goering, Nazi Reichsmarschall,
    quoted in Gustave Gilbert's Nuremberg Diary

We're back! To the dismay of some and, one suspects, the indifference of most, your humble and ever-ornery editor has become sufficiently riled-up by events in this world of ours to allow himself to be dragged--kicking and screaming, just to make it look good--back to the drawing board to try to recreate this more-or-less unique forum. For fans of nostalgia, the original Left Hook! site is now arhived, in its entirety, here: I don't know how regular each new edition of Left Hook! will be appearing, but I'll try to make it as regular as possible. A lot will depend upon how much interest the new project generates.

As always, Left Hook! wants you! Not just to read the thing, but to contribute to it. Have a thought on something in the news? Write it! Send it! Basically we're after any piece, large or small, about nearly any topic from some lefty perspective. Letters to the editor are also welcomed, as always. Something you read here set your heart aflutter or make you snarl with rage? Tell me about it. The multi-purpose email address for Left Hook! is, as always,

Humble and Ever-Ornery Editor

Vice-President Dick Cheney, on Monday, trekked to a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville, Tenn., and, along with some noteworthy remarks upon the War On Terrorism, delivered the most comprehensive public case for an assault upon Iraq so far offered by the administration. Today, he repeated it, almost word-for-word, before an event in San Antonio honoring veterans of the Korean War (it's from this appearance that the quotes used in this article are taken).

The administration has long ago removed any doubt that the analysis of the War On Terrorism offered by Left Hook! since its beginning was sound. Cheney reinforced this analysis in some of his remarks. Left Hook! contended that what was being proposed was a sort of pretend Cold War, modeled on the War On Drugs; a campaign with no realistic goals, no tangible enemy, and that would never end. Cheney:

As Secretary Rumsfeld recently put it, we are still closer to the beginning of this war than we are to the end of it. We have entered a struggle of years--a new kind of war against a new kind of enemy.

Left Hook! argued that this "war" was merely an attempt to fabricate a pretext for certain policies, among them feeding the military-industrial complex. Cheney:

For whatever lies ahead, our men and women in uniform deserve the very best weapons, the very best equipment, the best support, and the best training we can possibly provide them. And under President Bush they will have them all. The President has asked Congress for a one-year increase of more than $48 billion for national defense, the largest increase since Ronald Reagan lived in the White House.

In another example of the sorts of policies the War On Terrorism pretext is meant to cover, the administration has, for months, done its best to try to create a link, in the public mind, between those who carried out the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and Iraq, despite the fact that no evidence of any such link--tenuous, or otherwise--exists. That didn't stop Cheney from hitting this note repeatedly in his remarks:

...containment [of the terrorist threat] is not possible when dictators obtain weapons of mass destruction and are prepared to share them with terrorists who intend to inflict catastrophic losses on the United States.

Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action.

Neither the administration nor anyone else has been able to produce any evidence of any significant links between Hussein and al Qaida, and Hussein, considered a secular leader and an enemy by the extremist Islamist elements, has, in fact, spent the last three decades in open conflict with such groups. In his fervor to provide some sort of link, Cheney also offered a significant revision of history:

We are, after all, dealing with the same dictator [Saddam Hussein] who... has been on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism for nearly two decades.

As the Vice President is very well aware, having served in congress at the time, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from that list in Feb. 1982. The point at which Iraq was placed back on that list was in 1990, after the invasion of Kuwait, another fact with which Cheney is familiar, as he was, at that time, the Secretary of Defense in the first Bush administration. In both cases, the decision was based upon political considerations and not any real analysis of Iraq's status as a supporter or opponent of terrorism.

The crux of Cheney's argument, on Iraq, is this:

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors, confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.

Those in the administration have provided no evidence that Iraq has any significant functional weapons of mass destruction, though they surely would have, if any was available. As for the rest, LeftHook! rejects the notion that a major U.S. assault on Iraq--or, indeed, on anyone--should ever be launched based solely upon the Vice President's powers of telepathy and extra-sensory precognition.

In his remarks, Cheney offered this increasingly tiresome line about the administration's approach to its "war":

The President has made very clear that there is no neutral ground in the fight against terror. Those who harbor terrorists share guilt for the acts they commit. And under the Bush Doctrine, a regime that harbors or supports terrorists will be regarded as an enemy of the United States.

This, however, comes only three weeks after the "President" signed a bill authorizing over $1.6 billion in military aid to the government of Colombia and overtly allowed that aid to be used for counterinsurgency purposes. The "overt" part is actually somewhat of an improvement in U.S.-Colombia policy. Previously, most U.S. aid of this sort was allegedly intended for anti-drug operations and, as the Colombian government diverted a huge chunk of it into fighting their civil war anyway, Washington looked the other way and kept shoveling the cash. Now, the need for this charade has been lifted, and a more honest evaluation of the situation can be offered.

No such evaluation is forthcoming from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who, back in April, referred to FARC, the largest leftist rebel group in Colombia, as "the most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western hemisphere." As human rights groups have documented for years, however, most of the human rights abuses in Colombia--nearly 80%--occur not at the hands of FARC or any other leftist group but at the hands of the right-wing militias formerly united under the banner of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. If FARC is "the most dangerous," what does that make the group that commits four times the number of human rights abuses?

Clients, says the "President." The bill signed by our fearless leader, while eliminating one charade, perpetuates a new one by authorizing the government of Colombia to use its new aid against both the left wing and the right wing groups. The new charade is in pretending that the right-wing terrorist groups in Colombia function as anything other than an extension of the Colombian military. The same month Ashcroft offered his ludicrous assessment of FARC, the Washington Post ran (on April 2, 2002) an article by Adam Isacson of the Center for International Policy on this matter:

The United Self-Defense Forces are responsible for the vast majority of the more than 4,000 noncombatants killed in Colombia's war last year. Yet the State Department's March 4 human rights report reminds us that "members of the security forces sometimes illegally collaborated with paramilitary forces" throughout 2001. A well-documented pattern persists of military personnel aiding and abetting paramilitaries while evading investigations or prosecutions. This gives strong reason to fear that expanded U.S. assistance could support units and officers tied to the terrorists of the right.

In a major report issued two years ago ( The Ties That Bind: Colombia Military & Paramilitary Links), Human Rights Watch documented the close relationship of the right-wing terror militias to the Colombian military. There's no other way to describe this than state-sponsored terrorism, and, thanks to our fiercely anti-terror "president," it's U.S.-sponsored state-sponsored terrorism. All in the name of the War On Terrorism.

Just another example of how the War On Terrorism is used.

As the unelected "President" Bush boldly marches his nation over the precipitous cliff of war, one listens for the voice of dissent to be raised from the allegedly oppositional party and is met with a silence that is deafening in its implications. Anyone can see the "President"'s present drive to war is a fool's errand. Every day now, prominent members of his own party emerge to tell us that very thing. Where, on this most important question, are the Democrats? The party's elected are largely where they've been from the beginning of Bush's Forever War--standing with the "President." Those same party faithful who, only two years ago, branded Ralph Nader, a man who'd faithfully served their cause for decades, a traitor to it for his insistence that the two parties had virtually become one. Now, as Bush busily goes about his task of driving our nation to ruin, there stands our so-called opposition party, holding his coat, as they have been for a year now. A disgraceful spectacle, and one which will never end, so long as this obscene behavior is rewarded at the ballot box.

 --A Man of Green

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As always, Left Hook!wants you! Not just to read the thing, but to contribute to it. Have a thought on something in the news? Write it! Send it! Basically we're after any piece, large or small, about nearly any topic from some lefty perspective. Letters to the editor are also welcomed, as always. Something you read here set your heart aflutter or make you snarl with rage? Tell me about it. The multi-purpose email address for LeftHook! is, as always,