Fortunately, there might still be time for the show trial that Thom Hartmann craves.
Hartmann, long atop the decidedly short list of popular liberal radio hosts, has again lapsed into the language of fringe leftist, this time while talking about the horrific situation in Iraq, al Qaeda's rationale for attacking the US on 9/11, and the Persian Gulf war. (Audio after the jump)
What Hartmann stated was noteworthy for several reasons. First, here's what he said (audio) --
Can you find that clip of Dick Cheney when he was against the war before he was for it? What we are seeing in Iraq right now, you know, a caller called a little earlier and pointed out that there is this, uh, failure, absolute failure to understand what caused bin Laden and al Qaeda to decide to go after the United States. And what it was was our behavior during the George Herbert Walker Bush administration in Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia specifically, over the war, this very short war in Iraq. And that happened, that war was because George Herbert Walker Bush decided that just like, you know, Reagan had his little war in Grenada, George Herbert Walker Bush had to have a little war and his little war was going to be in Iraq and Kuwait, and he did, the first Gulf War.
And he was criticized by neo-cons, by the Paul Wolfowitzes of the world, although I don't know if Wolfowitz himself was one of the people who criticized him at that time, but you know, the voices that are today the Lindsey Grahams and John McCains, he was criticized, George Herbert Walker Bush, was criticized for not going all the way to Baghdad. He merely pushed the Iraqi army, Saddam Hussein's army, up to the border of Baghda-, up to the border of Kuwait, and then as that army fled through Iraq we flew over Iraq and just murdered tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers from the air by bombing them, killing them as they fled. This was George Herbert Walker Bush's little war.
Gasp, a liberal actually admits that Iraq was connected to 9/11! As Hartmann points out, al Qaeda's major grievance against the US was that American infidels were occupying Saudi Arabia, Land of the Two Holy Places. And why were we there? Because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, refused to withdraw after the UN Security Council voted 12-2 in November 1990 for him to withdraw or face dire consequences, refused still after both chambers of Congress approved military action in January 1991, and was ousted by force in the following weeks. American military personnel and aircraft remained in Saudi Arabia through the 1990s -- as requested by the Saudi government -- because Saddam remained in power and, hence, threatened Middle Eastern oil and the stability of an increasingly connected global economy.
This is also why the US, Britain and -- wait for it -- France established no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq after the Gulf War, why the United Nations -- not the US -- imposed sanctions on Iraq, why the UN passed more than a dozen resolutions requiring Saddam to disarm in good faith, and why UN weapons inspectors stayed in Iraq for seven years after the Gulf War, until Saddam expelled them in November 1998.
Hartmann would have you believe the elder Bush's "little war" was US against them, when in fact it was a coalition of 34 nations, a quarter of them Arab, against Iraq. Yes, Bush senior was criticized for not pushing all the way to Baghdad to depose Saddam, but Bush reasonably argued that the coalition's mission, the rationale around which it was assembled, was expelling Iraq from Kuwait. Deviating from that risked fragmenting the coalition. Bush, a man of honor then as now, stuck to his word.
A more valid criticism of Bush was that he relented after his weak-kneed Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Colin Powell decried the killing of Iraqi soldiers on the "Highway of Death" from Kuwait as "unchivalrous," echoing criticism of British generals toward rebellious Americans during the Revolution. In one of the worst American military blunders of the last century, Bush agreed with Powell, thereby ensuring that Saddam would remain in power and brutally suppress uprisings by the Kurds and Shiites which Bush encouraged. Had Powell advised FDR, he would have sought negotiations with Tojo after we gained control of Guadalcanal.
Even though Desert Storm's mission was successful, the war ended ambiguously, and in such a way to virtually ensure future conflict. Saddam proceeded to play cat and mouse with weapons inspectors until 1998, fired repeatedly upon coalition aircraft over the no-fly zones, and whittled away at UN sanctions to the point that they were at risk of collapsing by 2001. All of which -- most especially the presence of US military in Saudi Arabia -- set the stage for al Qaeda to strike in 2001. So much for the oft-told fairy tale of Iraq having "nothing to do" with 9/11 -- it's much closer to the "everything" end of the spectrum.
Liberals seldom cite the Gulf War when discussing Iraq, and for good reason. It is impossible to understand what created the conditions for 9/11 and the Iraq War in 2003 without taking into account the Gulf War and the dozen years between them -- just as the dynamics that led to World War II cannot be understood without looking back at the First World War and its aftermath.
Bush "murdered" thousands of Iraqis, Hartmann alleges, vilifying him as a war criminal. So too then was sainted liberal commander in chief Franklin Roosevelt as allied forces kept killing Germans and Japanese as they retreated across Europe and the Pacific. So too was Abraham Lincoln, liberals' favorite Republican, as the Confederacy slogged toward surrender at Appomattox. If the elder Bush was guilty of anything, it was too much empathy for an enemy he had not unequivocally vanquished.