Saturday, March 18, 2006

smoothing over the cracks

There’s no doubt that Condaleeza Rice is a smooth performer, as she showed in the interview with Kerry O’Brien the other night (always wonder though how staged such question-and-answer formats are, and funny how my suspicions are particularly raised when members of the Bush administration are under question), and this makes her remarks more worthy of scrutiny than those of her Prez [obviously] and of most other senior figures in his camp. Yet even so the glaring faults in some of her arguments could’ve been picked up by a smart twelve-year-old, and it constantly disappoints me that the media let these things slip by them – or are they under pressure to do so?

For example, when O’Brien raised the possibility that the US just might feel a bit responsible for the current mess in Iraq, Rice’s response was to point out that the Middle East had been in turmoil long before the US invasion of Iraq and that this turmoil had brought about the September 11 attacks and the Bali bombings. Now, quite apart from the egregious and insulting gaffe about Bali, the argument is dismal – though typical. The ‘Middle East’ is used as a blanket term to homogenize the region, which may as well be renamed ‘land of the barbarians’, so that Iraq is basically the same as Iran is the same as Palestine is the same as Indonesia (a big leap – but hey, they’re all Moslem so there’s no real diff), and its turmoil, and its hostility to the US, can be used, apparently to invade, threaten and harass at will.

It’s the journo’s job to cut through this obvious bullshit and to point out that the US in fact invaded Iraq, which had nothing whatever to do with September 11, and has all but ignored the nation which did actually produce most of those terrorists, Saudi Arabia, a nation with an undemocratic and oppressive government and a large population of Wahabist practitioners, in other words a breeding ground for terrorism which would constitute a far greater threat to the US, on just about any sensible analysis of the situation, than a contained Iraq. When something so obviously dishonest is going on, it becomes almost culpable for journalists not to ask questions – and these aren’t hard questions, they’re straightforward ones, given the facts.

The other piece of bullshit Rice trotted out, one trotted out by our own government regularly enough, is the claim that everybody thought that Iraq had WMD before the invasion. I well remember that pre-invasion period, and I would hope that everyone does. The UN weapons inspectors, under Hans Blix, were telling a very different story from the US ‘experts’, who were harassing them at every turn and ridiculing their requests for more time to do a proper job of inspection. The Iraqi regime’s attempts to comply with UN and US requests for full disclosure seemed to me quite genuine, if only because Saddam well knew the dire consequences of non-compliance. It was quite clear too that not only the UN weapons inspectors but the whole security council were feeling the heat from a massive and unprecedented campaign by the US to get what it wanted – UN ‘permission’ to invade Iraq. US bullying and hectoring of other member-nations reached new depths before the invasion, and all of this is fully on record. So why don’t journos come out and say this? I just don’t get it.


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