Denying the Facts, Finding the Truth

ONE of the pop heroes of the Iraq war was undoubtedly Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf, the unfortunate Iraqi information minister who, in his daily press conferences during the invasion, heroically denied even the most evident facts and stuck to the Iraqi line. Even with American tanks only a few hundred yards from his office, he continued to claim that the televised shots of tanks on the Baghdad streets were just Hollywood special effects. In his very[ …]

Give Iranian Nukes a Chance

On August 2, France, Britain and Germany announced that they might cut off negotiations with Iran and pursue punitive sanctions if the country followed through on its threats to resume its uranium enrichment program. The announcement came a day after the Washington Post reported that American intelligence agencies believe the country is a decade away from producing a nuclear weapon-an assessment that differs with earlier timetables cited by Bush administration officials, who estimated that Iran[ …]

The empty wheelbarrow

From my communist youth, I still remember the formula, endlessly repeated in official proclamations to mark the “unity of all progressive forces”: “workers, peasants and honest intellectuals” – as if intellectuals are, by their very nature, suspicious, all too free-floating, lacking a solid social and professional identity, so that they can only be accepted at the price of a special qualification. This distrust is alive and well today, in our post-ideological societies. The lines are[ …]

The Not-So-Quiet American

The Iraqi elections appear to authenticate the statement George W. Bush made in his January inauguration speech: “America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains or that women welcome humiliation and servitude.” It is difficult to disagree with Bush here: He effectively did touch the Achilles’ heel of many Western progressives, who were often disarmed by the one good argument, repeatedly evoked by Christopher Hitchens, for the war against Iraq: The majority of[ …]

Between Two Deaths

Does anyone still remember ‘Comical Ali’, Saddam’s information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who, in his daily press conferences, heroically stuck to the Iraqi line in the face of the most glaring evidence? (He was still claiming that TV footage of US tanks on the streets of Baghdad were just Hollywood special effects when the tanks were only a few hundred yards from his office.) He didn’t always fail to make sense, however. Confronted with claims[ …]

What Rumsfeld Doesn’t Know That He Knows About Abu Ghraib

Does anyone still remember the unfortunate Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf? As Saddam’s information minister, he heroically would deny the most evident facts and stick to the Iraqi line. Even as U.S. tanks were hundreds of yards from his office, al-Sahaf continued to claim that the television shots of the tanks on Baghdad streets were Hollywood special effects. Once, however, he did strike a strange truth. When told that the U.S. military already controlled parts of Baghdad,[ …]

The Iraqi Borrowed Kettle (2)

In order to illustrate the weird logic of dreams, Freud evoked a joke about the borrowed kettle: when accused by a friend that you returned him a borrowed kettle broken, your reply is: (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. Such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments, of course, confirms per negationem what it endeavours to[ …]

Today, Iraq. Tomorrow … Democracy?

The one good argument for war against Iraq is evoked by Christopher Hitchens: The majority of Iraqis are Saddam’s victims, and they would be really glad to be rid of him. He is such a catastrophe for his country that an American occupation in whatever form is a much brighter prospect for Iraqi citizens. We are not talking here of “bringing Western democracy to Iraq,” but of just getting rid of the nightmare called Saddam.[ …]