February 19, 2008

Is Bill Kristol an Idiot?

This article about a C-SPAN interview is a real hoot and not to be missed! There’s an update on this subject today on Jonathan Schwartz’ site: http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/
Tomgram: posted February 14, 2008 2:58 pm
Jonathan Schwarz, Bill Kristol's Obscure Masterpiece The Lost Kristol Tapes

What the New York Times Bought

By Jonathan Schwarz
I'm talking about Kristol's two-hour appearance on C-Span's Washington Journal on March 28, 2003, just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq.
Opposite Kristol on the segment was Daniel Ellsberg, famed for leaking the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam era. Their discussion jumped back and forth across 40 years of U.S.-Iraqi relations, and is easiest to understand if rearranged chronologically.
[...] To start with, Ellsberg made the reasonable point that Iraqis might not view the invading Americans as "liberators," since the U.S. had been instrumental in Saddam Hussein's rise to power: Here's how he put it:
"ELLSBERG: People in Iraq... perceive Hussein as a dictator... But as a dictator the Americans chose for them.
"KRISTOL: That's just not true. We've had mistakes in our Iraq policy. It's just ludicrous -- we didn't choose Hussein. We didn't put him in power.

[...] Ellsberg here is referring to U.S. support for a 1963 coup involving the Ba'athist party, for which Saddam was already a prominent enforcer -- and then another coup in 1968 when the Ba'athists consolidated control, after which Saddam became the power behind the nominal president. According to one of the 1963 plotters, "We came to power on a CIA train." (Beyond providing lists of communists and leftists to be murdered, the U.S. also gave the new regime napalm to help them put down a Kurdish uprising we'd previously encouraged.) James Crichtfield, then head of the CIA in the Middle East, said, "We really had the t's crossed on what was happening" This turned out not to be quite right, since factional infighting among top Iraqis required the second plot five years later for which, explained key participant Abd al-Razzaq al-Nayyif, "you must [also] look to Washington."
Yet it appears clear on video that Kristol is genuinely startled by what Ellsberg was saying.
Later, when the discussion gets closer to the present. Kristol's demeanor changes. He appears to be better informed and therefore shifts to straightforward lies:
"ELLSBERG: Why did we support Saddam as recently as when you were in the administration? And the answer is--
"KRISTOL: We didn't support Saddam when I was in the administration.

[...] This is preposterously false. First of all, Kristol worked in the Reagan administration as Education Secretary William Bennett's chief of staff -- when the U.S. famously supported Saddam's war against Iran with loans, munitions, intelligence, and diplomatic protection for his use of chemical weapons. After George H.W. Bush was elected in 1988, Kristol moved to the same position in Vice President Quayle's office. During the transition, Bush's advisors examined the country's Iraq policy and wrote a memo explaining to the incoming President the choice he faced. In a nutshell, this was "to decide whether to treat Iraq as a distasteful dictatorship to be shunned when possible, or to recognize Iraq's present and potential power in the region and accord it relatively high priority. We strongly urge the latter view."

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