Memo To: Rep. Henry Hyde [R IL], chairman House International Relations
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Did You Know That....?
You do know, Henry, that I have been making a pest of myself for the last several years trying to get our political class to see we have been ignoring the Islamic world in a dangerous way. When I saw you on Meet the Press Sunday, with Senator Joe Biden [D DE], chairman of Senate Foreign Relations, I was astonished to realize how little both of you know about the background to the catastrophe of September 11. Both of you actually told Tim Russert you thought it was a matter of public relations!! You amazed me when you said we should be telling the Muslim world all the good things we have done for it in recent years: “[T]he hateful comments that you just told us about don’t take into consideration the good things America has done for Islam. The rescue of Kuwait, the formation of Desert Storm, the Kosovo and Bosnia and Somalia all were to help and save Muslim people. We are the greatest contributor of food aid to Afghanistan in the world. Now, why not mention those things? Because they don’t want to, and they hate America. I think it’s all part of the Middle East lineup, but the United States has a proud record of humanitarian aid to people and to Islam around the world, and that story needs to be told.”
Hello? At the top of your list, I see, was our kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait: These are both Muslim countries, and if you added up all the Muslims in the world, they probably would have supported Saddam. The Saudis and Egyptians knew Kuwait was cheating all the oil countries in order to finance the Emir’s harem and high living in Paris. Yes, we backed Bosnia and its Muslims against Serbia and its Orthodox Christians, but that was the extension of a power play aimed at the USSR, in the closing days of the Cold War. Kosovo, too. Somalia was a disaster. And the aid we’ve given to the Afghans since they kicked the Soviets out, with the help of Osama bin Laden, has been pitiful. You have a lot of catching up to do to find out why the Islamic world these days has not been happy with Uncle Sam. Are you listening?
One thing you can do right away, old friend, is ask around about the “no-fly” zones in Iraq. Almost every politician I know believes our bombers are blowing up stuff in Iraq under one United Nations resolution or another. I hope you know that we are making those bombing runs with the Brits when the Pentagon gets a hankering for target practice -- especially now that Puerto Ricans don’t want us bombing their islands. Yes, we are blasting various buildings that might be housing military stuff, but in the process we have killed thousands of civilians over the years. And it is all illegal. The only reason we get away with this civilized form of political terrorism, where our pilots don’t have to commit suicide, is because we are the most powerful nation in the history of the world. But like Goliath, not quite powerful enough.
The fig leaf for the “no-fly” zone was the joint decision of the U.S., British and French to launch operation “Provide Comfort,” providing humanitarian aid to Kurds in the north and Shi’ite Muslims in the south. The operation banned Iraqi aircraft and helicopters in the two, which have been widened in the years since, long after their supposed reason for existence ended. France pulled out in 1998 when it said the operation had changed to military from humanitarian. The bombs have kept falling even though there never has been a U.N. resolution giving them any grounding in international law. We rarely hear of any results of the raids, but the Islamic world totes up the deaths and chalks them up to American imperialism. Why not? I noted two weeks ago that our financial markets were trying to make a recovery from its steep losses on the opening day of trading and suddenly nosedived. There was nothing on the wires here that would explain the nosedive, but a minute before it began, the French wires reported heavy U.S. and British attacks in Southern Iraq. This is where our Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz would like to set up a puppet regime to begin military expansion toward Baghdad.
The most outrageous use of the “fig leaf” of “Provide Comfort,” Henry, was President Clinton’s decision to kick off his 1996 re-election campaign by bombing Iraq for its “violation of the no-fly zone” in the northern Kurdish area of Iraq. Remember? It was, at least to me, a clear violation on Clinton’s part of the War Powers Act, which required him to inform Congress of military action. Instead he simply gave a green light to the Pentagon to bomb. Did you know, Henry, that Saddam DID NOT VIOLATE THE ILLEGAL NO-FLY ZONE? All he did was send ground troops into the province at the request of the duly-elected provincial government, composed exclusively of Iraqi Kurds. They were fearful Iranian Kurds were going to overthrow them. It would have been nice if the GOP presidential candidate, Bob Dole, had complained about Commander-in-Chief Clinton bombing more Muslims to give his campaign a boost. But an advisor at his elbow in that campaign named Wolfowitz urged him to instead salute and sing God Bless America.
Before you and Senator Biden proceed with his recommendation to finance Radio Free Islam and Radio Free Iraq and Radio Free Iran and Radio Free Pakistan (Biden’s idea), I wish you would hold the hearings I tried to get Jesse Helms to hold, and ask about all these matters. Of the nation’s press, only the Christian Science Monitor regularly notes there is no UN authorization for all this bombing, and none by the U.S. Congress either. You really have to admit, Henry, that you have not been paying attention. Then again, few have. That must end. It would be nice to have something to brag about before you start your bragging.