Monday, November 01, 2004


Paul Sheehan is a writer I much admire, and have bought both his books as soon as possible. Sheehan has written well and perceptively about the Australian political scene, and particularly about the way the Big Media conducts itself here (Conclusion: not too well).

But today's opinion piece in the Herald is as skewed and manipulative piece as I would expect from the rest of the paper.

Sheehan's thesis is that The US went into Iraq because

President George Bush wanted to avenge his father, George Bush snr, whose failure to finish off the mocking, bellicose Saddam Hussein cost him the presidency. That sits at the core of the "war on terrorism".

That's it. No mention of routine violations of UN Resolutions. No idea that maybe a State that plots to assasinate the US President might possible be a threat not just to the US, but maybe to anyone else who thought stopping genocidal nut jobs is a Good Thing. No thought to Saddam's retention of his WMD programs, and avowed desire to continue his singular ambition of acquiring a nuke. Hell, Sheehan can't even be bothered pointing out that the removal of Saddam has been US policy since 1998.

He's some tricky fella, that Bush. First, manipulate your predecessor into signing a law that will get rid of your Daddy's boogeyman. Then, get yourself elected as a stay-at-home President. Then go to the UN and propose yet another resolution that you just somehow know will be undermined by the French, broken by the Iraqis and ignored by the Rest Of The World. Then, and only then, do you invade.


Let's take this a few lines at a time.

One of history's more disquieting chapters will be written tomorrow, November 2, election day in the United States, if the man who avoided combat during the Vietnam war, George Bush, defeats the man who served with courage in Vietnam, Senator John Kerry.

It's still all about Vietnam. Forty years on, and it's still aallll about Naaaaam.

Kerry served and Bush deferred. Kerry was wounded in combat, Bush ambled through the Air Force reserves and has dissembled about it ever since.

Actually, Kerry extended his student life four times, and only failed on his fifth effort to get a deferment. Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam and was knocked back. Bush signed the release for all his service records, Kerry continues to dissemble. Kerry volunteered for Navy duty outside of the country, and was re-assigned into combat after taking up his post. He collected three Purple Hearts, one for a wound covered with a Band-Aid, and bugged out as soon as possible.

Before this President committed the US to invading Iraq, America had the moral authority bequeathed by the dead of September 11

What "moral authority" might that be? And who hands out the "get out of consequences" cards? Cause it's not the UN.

The US military cast an unassailable image of being able to deploy immense firepower into any theatre. Saddam's psychotic regime had been locked down. America's intelligence resources were concentrated on the threat posed by Islamic terrorism.

I guess Sheehan hasn't heard of the Oil-For-Palaces program at the UN. Saddam made it a point to make sure his friends and protectors in the media and the UN got a slice of his $10b skim. Containment. In a sieve.

Huge resources of manpower, money, prestige, credibility and intelligence has been re-routed to the Texas grudge in Iraq.

Gotta get that "Texas" crack in somewhere.

Iran brazenly marches towards acquiring nuclear weapons.

While facilitated by the UN. And Kerry's answer to this is to give them the bloody fuel. Also, no suggestion from Sheehan about what the US might actually do about the spectre of a nuclear-armed theocracy.

Israel continues to receive a blank cheque from Washington as it devolves into an apartheid state.

No, Israel remains the only Middle East state that allows it's Arab citizens a vote. Soon their will be two others, but they don't count, do they?

Credible estimates of civilian dead have been about 10,000, but last week the British medical journal, The Lancet, published a survey estimating that about 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have died as a result of the US-led invasion.

For a thorough debunking of the Lancet's suspect data-gathering, see here. Hell's Bells, even Human Rights Watch thinks the figures are "inflated".

This is a highly contentious claim for such a prestigious journal to publish

Ya Think? The Lancet has admitted in their own editorial that they "rushed" the study into publication. Of course, the rush had nothing to do with getting it into the press before the US election. Nothing to see, move on.

Sheehan quotes from Kerry's own Vietnam diaries:

"For the first time I realised that they were planning to take the old man in with them to act as a human mine detector ... [Later] I noticed that the prisoner wasn't with them and the Green Beret winked at me when I asked and said that he had tried to escape. With a smile on his face they boarded the boats and we left the area ... I found out that he had been knifed by one of the Nungs [mercenary] and then sliced up and left with a note of warning to the VC."

Beware of relying on Kerry's recollections. Has Sheehan not heard of Christmas in Cambodia? Or his Magic CIA hat?

... Kerry won the Democratic nomination because he is a hard campaigner, he has gravitas, and his military service stands in such unflattering contrast to that of the president.

Kerry won the nomination by swinging hard against the war to combat Howard Dean, then zipped back across once Dean dropped out.

Kerry's evolution was clarified by intense moments such as this, in 1969, during a firefight in Vietnam: "I was amazed by how detached I was from the whole scene. I just lay in a ditch, not firing because I wanted to save ammo and because I couldn't see what I was firing at. I thought about what was happening in New York at that very moment and if people really felt that I was doing something worthwhile while they went down to Schrafft's and had another ice-cream sundae ..."

Seared. Seared in me. This is the guy you want running things when the used food hits the A\C.This ability to focus really increases my confidence levels.

Only one candidate came to public office as a warrior scarred and cautioned by war. The other came to office as a moral tourist.

Kerry has had more positions on more issues than I've had hot dinners. He wants to reduce terrorism to a "nuisance". Bush wants to hammer them flat, then plough the earth with salt. Kerry wants to hand it all back to the French, knowing they will do nothing. Bush has liberated more Muslims than any other political figure in history.

And if you don't believe me, ask the Iraqis
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