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Unfiled April 16, 2004
Punish the Pundits, Round Two
Will and Safire: Bad Cop/Bad Cop By John Dolan Browse author Email

The eXile has never bought that forgive-and-forget stuff -- our creed is remember-and-avenge. So we've begun sifting through the mass of lies America's pundits were spilling last year to convince the country we needed to invade Iraq, to identify and punish the swine who got us into this mess.

Our first nominees, outed in our last issue, were typical small-time war cheerleaders. This time we go after bigger game: William Safire and George Will. These two are a classic duo of American oppression, doing the good-cop/bad-cop routine on editorial pages every day. Will plays the good cop, so when it was his turn to step up to the plate for the war in Iraq, he took the humane approach. Going to war, he explained, would actually -- get this! -- save lives. He bases that argument on the UN estimate that sanctions killed 60,000 Iraqi children per year, and does a little extrapolatin': if the United Nations' numbers are right, another decade of containment would kill one million Iraqi civilians, including 600,000 children. So, as Amer-icans debate the morality of the war in Iraq, remember these numbers -- and remember a picture of an Iraqi child, suffering the effects of the current sanctions."

Will fails to mention that it was the United States that forced the UN to adopt severe sanctions against Iraq, and forced the rest of the world to maintain them for more than a decade, no matter how many pinko Europeans complained about all the dying children. In essence Will's claim is that once we invade, we will lift our siege and the children we are thereby killing will be saved.

Besides, Will is simply lying when he pretends to give a damn about all these dead kids -- and anybody who's ever lived in the US knows it. He and his conservative friends had plenty of time and warning about the deaths. Two UN aid coordinators in a row, Denis Rockwell in 1998, and Hans von Sponeck in 2000, resigned in noisy, well-publicized outrage at what the US/UN sanctions were doing to the children of Iraq. Yet George Will, proprietor of one of the most influential columns in the world, never mentioned all those poor Iraqi kids. Will's real attitude is on display in a column from the same period praising Donald Rumsfeld as a leader: "A leader does not want to feel your pain. A leader is willing to cause you pain. Rumsfeld is what a leader looks like."

Leadership as sadism; that's a long way from worrying about Iraqi kids dying. Yet unconvincing as it is, there's a lot of this fake compassion making the rounds of American rightwing commentators. You never saw such a caring bunch of people, ever since all their other arguments for the war evaporated. Left with nothing but bleeding-heart stuff to exploit, they have been forced to don compassion like a wetsuit several sizes too small. It's agony, but they're a disciplined bunch.

The problem is that there were witnesses who can swear the miserable hypocrites never felt a shred of compassion. I was there. I remember. When the first Gulf War came along I was living in Berkeley, maybe the most radical city in the US. Even there, nobody but a few hippie women pretended to give a damn about the Iraqis. The rest of us had one worry: that Saddam's army might inflict a lot of casualties on ours. Once everybody realized the Iraqi Army was nothing but a horde of terrified slaves, we indulged in a long orgy of gun-camera videos of exploding buildings and bunkers. If there was any trace of compassion around, it didn't show itself much.

So let's cut the crap. Nobody in America except a few hardcore pacifists and cowed Arab-Americans cares one bit about the Iraqis. The notion of George Will losing a moment of sleep over the fate of Iraqi children is laughable. If you lived in the US over the last 15 years, you already know that.

It's strange that nobody applies their own experiences, their own memories, to this sort of argument. We were there; we saw, we heard, what people like Will really felt. Why pretend to believe them?

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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