Thursday, March 02, 2006

A Momentary Lapse

I have an older relative I'll call Peter.

When I was a kid, Peter was my hero. Handsome, confident and charismatic -- he went through his young life certain that he was destined to be rich. And he was correct. He isn’t in the club with the Bushes and the Cheneys, but he has done quite well for himself. I loved him then and I love him now. He has been very good to me my whole life. He invested in my band, buying us equipment and studio time even though he knew the odds of seeing any return were slim. That was 20 years ago and he has never even mentioned it. He loaned me money early on in my first marriage when I had some financial trouble. There is much common ground between us, and we share a similar observational perspective -- except when it comes to politics.

He is the type that sends out e-mails bashing Cindy Sheehan and Hillary Clinton the day after New Orleans drowns in the ocean of this administration’s incompetence. He seems immune to facts that contradict his political beliefs. For about two years I was relentlessly ignoring the wisdom of Jonathan Swift (quoted at the top of this blog,) spending hours surfing the net in order to respond to him, accumulating evidence to back up my arguments -- only to be disappointed by his fallacious responses, rife with hyperbole and invective.

So I gave up. I had to accept that aspect of his personality and move on.

That is until yesterday.

I’ll pick up the e-mail correspondence here, slightly edited for privacy.

Me:
Bush got the entire country all fired up about terrorism and effectively tied Iraq to 9/11 when they weren't involved. Maybe we really did need to invade Iraq, (but I'm less convinced now then I was a year ago and I didn't think we needed to then) but if we did need to then Bush should have A) Made the real case for war instead of tying them to 9/11, etc. B) listened to his own military leaders who warned that we didn't have enough troops to win the peace, C) listened to what his detractors were saying - any good leader will do that. Bush is notorious for not wanting to hear any dissension among the ranks and D) listened to the experts. Even I knew once you removed Sadaam the Shiites, The Sunnis and The Kurds were going to start in with each other. The same thing happened when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Now he is surprised when people are against the UAE (or any Arab nation) having any presence whatsoever in our sadly unprotected ports? The only one I would trust would be the Turks, and even then it would make me uneasy. We have years and years of unrest, distrust, upheaval etc. to look forward to with the Arab world, and while Bush didn't do all this himself (it was a mess since at least the 60's if not earlier) he is going to leave it worse than he found it.

Peter:
Bush never tied 9/11 to Iraq.

Me:
Are you splitting hairs here? You are technically correct. Technically, Bill Clinton didn't have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky either, but we all know what he DID do. They were very careful choosing their words. In my opinion, the intention was to link Iraq to Al Qaeda without saying outright that Iraq was involved with 9/11, but the implication is obvious. Why else would they say these things?

These are exact quotes from Bush, Cheney, and Rice.

Judge for yourself.

"There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here. ... And there are some al-Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad."

"We know too that several of the detainees, in particular some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development," Rice said.

"So, yes, there are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. We know that Saddam Hussein has a long history with terrorism in general. And there are some al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad," she said. "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented."
- Condaleeza Rice Sept 25th 2002


"Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al-Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al-Qaeda" and "Iraq has also provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."

"I continue to believe — I think there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I'm very confident that there was an established relationship there."
-Vice President Dick Cheney Jan, 21st 2004

“It’s clearly established in terms of training, provision of bomb-making experts, training of people with respect to chemical and biological warfare capabilities, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Iraq for training and so forth…”
-Vice President Dick Cheney June 4th 2004

"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people
now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida."
- President Bush State of the Union Address – 1/28/2003

"We know that Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade" and "we've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases."
- President Bush, Oct. 7th 2002

Peter:
Al, you’re really reaching here. You jump from “contacts with Al Qaeda” to Bush’s “intention” to link Iraq to 9/11. This despite repeated statements from the Bush administration at the time that they had no evidence of a link between Iraq and 9/11. How could you possibly know what Bush’s “intentions” were ? You say here that it’s your “opinion”. That’s quite a different thing than your previous statement that Bush “effectively tied Iraq to 9/11 when they weren’t involved”. That’s your interpretation but I never thought Bush “effectively tied Iraq to 9/11.” In fact I thought he made it quite clear that there was no evidence whatsoever that they were involved in 9/11. None of the statements below even mention 9/11. At least that’s how I see it. There’s plenty of shit that Bush has done that I take issue with, but he never, in my opinion, tried to say Iraq was involved in 9/11 and he certainly went out of his way to say he had no evidence that there was such a connection. Is that splitting hairs ???

Me:
And that is where we disagree. We'll have to as was always do, agree to disagree. I stand by my original statements. They deliberately wanted to give the impression that Iraq was involved with 9/11 by linking Iraq to Al Qaeda. I know that isn't your opinion. I accept it and move on.

Peter:
Agreed.


So, now I’m back to trying to concentrate upon our common ground and following the advice of Jonathan Swift.

6 Comments:

Blogger isabelita said...

Well, it's very difficult when family members whom one cares about turn out to be Bush/Cheney&Co. supporters. I have given up on friends who move farther to the right by the width of every dollar they amass - paraphrasing Hemingway here - but it's hard with family.
At least you'll have an observation point for the other side...

2:05 PM  
Anonymous blue girl said...

I think I've given up on trying to convince my right-wing friends and family members. Man, if people can't see the truth staring them in the face, I think they're pretty much a lost cause --

I now just want to beat them. And then tolerate and/or completely ignore their behavior when we do.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Beer and Skittles, man. Everybody likes beer and Skittles.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Most of my family is right wing ("Bush got a bad rap on Katrina," etc.) and I try not to go at it with them. I've had similar email exchanges with one brother who also has done quite well for himself and has a very "distanced" view of everything else that happens on this planet. He thinks his view is more "realistic" than mine; he can't see that it's exactly the opposite.

Did you see the recent poll of US troops that indicated that an overwhelming majority of them think they're in Iraq because of 9/11?

9:34 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Did you see the recent poll of US troops that indicated that an overwhelming majority of them think they're in Iraq because of 9/11?

Indeed. It is so frustrating because we end up debating what happened instead of why it happened and was it appropriate to happen? We never get to the real debate because we end up debating the premise itself.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Bob Dwire said...

We never get to the real debate because we end up debating the premise itself.

That is precsiely where the right wing has always scored, in reframing the argument. It is maddening, and very, very frustrating, and I, for one, do not know how to deal with it. The trouble is, to generalise madly, that pinko liberals think it is rude to ignore the other side's point of view, so we fall for the reframing every time. Once again, we're talking hypocrisy.

3:28 AM  

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