Joho the Blog » If Godwin’s Law had teeth

If Godwin’s Law had teeth

Peter W. Galbraith has an excellent column in the Boston Globe today explaining the deep irony of Donald Rumsfeld’s attempt to associate those opposing his Iraq war with those who appeased Hitler.

Ronald Reagan sent Rumsfeld to meet with Saddam Hussein in during the war Iraq started with Iran:

… the Reagan administration was afraid Iraq might actually lose. Reagan chose Rumsfeld as his emissary to Hussein, whom he visited in December 1983 and March 1984. Inconveniently, Iraq had begun to use chemical weapons against Iran in November 1983, the first sustained use of poison gas since a 1925 treaty banning that.

Rumsfeld never mentioned this blatant violation of international law to Hussein, instead focusing on shared hostility toward Iran and an oil pipeline through Jordan.

[after the war]…President George H.W. Bush’s administration actually doubled US financial credits for Iraq. A week before Hussein invaded Kuwait, the administration vociferously opposed legislation that would have conditioned US assistance to Iraq on a commitment not to use chemical weapons and to stop the genocide against the Kurds. At the time, Dick Cheney, now vice president, was secretary of defense and a statutory member of the National Security Council that reviewed Iraq policy. By all accounts, he supported the administration’s appeasement policy.

In 2003, Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld all cited Hussein’s use of chemical weapons 15 years before as a rationale for war. But at the time Hussein was actually doing the gassing — including of his own people — they considered his use of chemical weapons a second-tier issue.

Galbraith, by the way, interviewed survivors of Iraq’s slaughter of Kurds in 1988, gathering evidence to support Claiborne Pell’s bill that would have ended US financial support for Iraq. The leader of the Reagan administration’s opposition? Colin Powell.

Rumsfeld has looked Hussein in the eye when our government was supporting him. Rumsfeld calling other appeasers is yet more evidence that the flaws we see in others are the flaws we see in ourselves.


And I don’t want to let the appeaser charge stick in any way. I was not against the Iraq war because I wanted to appease terrorists. I want to fight terrorists. I just oddly insist that we fight them where they are and not where they aren’t.

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5 Responses to “If Godwin’s Law had teeth”

  1. In the midst of the worst attack on any public figure in recent history, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave a stunning speech on Monday further explaining and defining the current events in Iraq. He received little coverage for the speech with the exception of incessant, liberal sniping for being political. Wow! The liberal elites who manipulate the media every day are calling an American who has spent a large part of his adult life in resplendent service to our nation a hypocrite. Smarmy news bimbos get to mislead the public about the war while calling Mr. Rumsfeld a hypocrite. While Rumsfeld and the men and women of our armed forces fight terrorism, these people blame America for everything wrong with the world. After all, Jack Murtha said that we created the terrorists.

  2. Re: the comment above — I guess the War on Reality is succeeding beyond what I would have thought possible.

    Thanks, David, for helping remind those of us who actually were paying attention to the cast of characters (and their policies) that the current war against Iraq has an ugly genealogy. One begins to wonder whether each change of presidential administration wipes clean the consciousness of what politicians were up to during preceding regimes.

  3. If Godwin’s Law had teeth, then the debate would be over – and every person who has, for the last six years, been comparing Bush and Hitler would have folded their tents and left the field for their crimes.

    Fortunately, it doesn’t. We are still free to debate, to question, and to speak out without being beheaded, shot, stoned, or gassed.

  4. “…speak out without being beheaded, shot, stoned, or gassed.”

    Do I get the sense that the bar is being set lower? A few years ago, we might have congratulated ourselves on our freedom from open-ended secret detainment without charge or representation, spying at executive whim, or restriction to government-chivvied media.

  5. Any politician who invokes a totem such as the Flag, God, Jesus, National Security, or “The Children” to justify any political position should be fined $1 million per instance.

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