Thursday, July 27, 2006

The right-wing love affair with history (relevant or otherwise).

When you need a textbook example of rhetorical dishonesty, you can't do better than the ButtRocket:

Jennifer Harper of the Washington Times reports on a Harris Poll that, among other things, shows that 50% of respondents--up from 36% last year--believe that "Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded."

Stop right there. Note well the phrasing of that question -- whether Saddam had WMDs when the U.S. invaded, which is the only real issue here since, when you're arguing that the Saddam threat is "urgent", "immediate", "imminent" or what have you, it's really kind of crucial to keep the time frame in mind.

Having established that, note how ButtRocket immediately starts to conflate totally different issues:

The Harris folks term this result "surprising," but it's hard to see why. "Yes" is indisputably the right answer to that question. Liberals can dispute whether Iraq had as many WMDs as we believed they did; or whether they had all the kinds of WMDs of which they were suspected; or whether the WMDs Iraq had were mostly, or entirely, left over from the 1980s and 1990s; or whether the alleged mobile weapons labs really reflected nothing more than Saddam's taking a sudden, and very expensive, interest in weather balloons on the eve of war. But about the fact that Iraq possessed WMDs, there is no doubt.

So even though the burning issue is whether Saddam had WMDs at the moment of the invasion, ButtRocket suddenly gets all soft focus and nuancy, sweeping up possible claims from years before because, after all, nuance is a good thing, right? Which allows him to completely re-interpret the original question and come up with the convenient conclusion:

So it's hard to see how anyone can seriously argue that Iraq was not a threat under Saddam.

Which brings us to Michael K. over at Daimnation, who is apparently learning well at the feet of the master as he pulls the same dishonest shit:

From an e-mail by Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, the Canadian who was killed when a UN outpost in Southern Lebanon was hit by an Israeli bombardment.

...we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing.

The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

Not surprisingly, being the hack that he is, Michael conveniently omits the date of that e-mail: July 18, a full week before the Israeli bombardment that killed Hess-von Kruedener, which is more than a niggling detail since Israel's entire defense for the attack would seem to be that they were under attack at the time and were forced to respond in kind. But producing an allegedly supporting e-mail and carefully ignoring its date doesn't really do much to support that scenario, does it?

In fact, the National Post gets tangled up in the same stupidity when it writes (emphasis added):

The United Nations appeared to be caught in a contradiction Wednesday after the world body claimed there had been no Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of a peacekeeping base destroyed in an Israeli strike, killing four UN military observers, one of them Canadian.

An e-mail written by Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, identified Wednesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the dead Canadian, reveals Hezbollah was extremely active in the days and weeks before.

But, once again, how does one defend the hours-long shelling of the UN peacekeeping post unless there was nearby Hezbollah activity at that time? Like Michael K., the Post seems to be working overtime to deliberately confuse the issue when it writes further down in that same article:

The UN added fuel to the charge Wednesday when Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, told the UN Security Council that Hezbollah had not appeared to be militarily active in the area.

"To our knowledge, unlike in the vicinity of some of our other patrol bases, Hezbollah firing was not taking place within the immediate vicinity of the patrol base," she said.

One can certainly interpret Lute's statement as that there was no Hezbollah activity at the time of the Israeli shelling, which makes that shelling utterly unproductive.

So there really are only two questions to be asked here. First, is there actual evidence of Hezbollah military activity in the vicinity of the peacekeeper base aimed at Israel during the Israeli shelling that killed Hess-von Kruedener? And second, is there a single Canadian wanker who is not too goddamned lazy or dishonest to try to figure that out?


Babbling Brooks said...

...which makes that shelling utterly unproductive.

Really? If they had dug-in positions in the immediate vicinity of the UN outpost, shelling those positions at any time would be productive from the IDF's standpoint.

And, btw, according to the 2IC of the UNTSO, speaking last night on CBC radio, the bunker on the UNIFIL post was designed to withstand 155mm shelling. The shelling wasn't the problem. It was the 500lb bomb that killed the four UN soldiers.

The question we need to ask isn't about the artillery - it's an area weapon, it will have dispersion, and if Hezbollah was dug in in close proximity to the UN outpost as our Major's e-mail suggests, the shelling was justified, and not a serious threat to the UN personnel in the bunker.

The question we need to ask is how a 500lb PGM ended up blowing up that bunker. Either the IDF did it deliberately, the IDF made a targetting error, or the precision guidance package on the bomb failed. Until we know more about that, we're just guessing.

CC said...

bb writes:

"If they had dug-in positions in the immediate vicinity of the UN outpost, shelling those positions at any time would be productive from the IDF's standpoint."

That's a good point, I stand corrected.

MgS said...

When one considers the relatively touchy relationship between Israel and the UN, it's not so much of a leap to guess that the bomb was "an accident" in the same way that the army tends to get "volunteers" for missions that nobody in their right mind would do.

Of course, there will be no signed order to bomb that location, granting plausible deniability over any allegation of intent.

I think the US experience in Iraq, when viewed alongside the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, is a pretty good indication that a purely force-driven approach to these situations is doomed to fail in the long run.