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Salon interviews John Brady Kiesling.
March 19, 2003 2:06 AM   Subscribe

Salon interviews John Brady Kiesling. JBK: "The talking points were pretty pathetic. They may work at home, but they do not work with an audience of sophisticated people who have some experience with the world, who are profoundly nervous about the Middle East and terrorism, and would like to see some signs of intelligent life in American foreign policy." Are Americans too isolationist for their own good?
posted by skallas (23 comments total)

 
Here we are in one of the best educated countries in the world and 44% of us believe in a link between Iraq and 9/11. Doesn't the government have the responsibility to debunk political myths even when it would hurt them? We have the largest media machines, yet the information seems to come out very filtered as not to offend and especially not to criticize a corporate friendly administration.

How savvy are we? Are we turning into North Korea Lite?
posted by skallas at 2:11 AM on March 19, 2003


No. North Korea Strong.

These times are simply a case study in mass psychology. What we've come to expect of the system in which we've grown to adulthood in is gone. We are arriving to the singular moment of mass spontaneity, the moment of humanity. The moment where many die, but the reasonable and free sacrifice themselves to speak out while there's still a chance.

We have quite rapidly turned from a lackadaisical and lazy society into one of totalitarianistic rule by fear and threat.

All decrees from this regime are meant to do nothing but demoralize the waffling infidel-"patriot" and stoke the embers of blind nationalism. That's it. That's all. And this is sick.

To whomever it may concern:

Please help us all to become more sophisticated.
posted by crasspastor at 2:36 AM on March 19, 2003


I'd be interested in knowing stats on where the people who believe Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 get their news from versus those who don't. Does one group read more than the other, or is attuned to current events at all? Not that I trust the corporate media to tell the truth, but there's a large chunk of people out there who don't even watch that.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:50 AM on March 19, 2003


44% of us believe in a link between Iraq and 9/11

I sure do. Follow this logic. 12 years ago we started a containment policy by stationing troops in Saudi. For 12 long years Clinton kept those troops in Saudi doing nothing but maintaining hostilities at a low level and occasionally lobbing cruise missles into other neighboring countries with little effect but to stir up hornets nests, although he did appease the appologists back home. The terrorists have stated they targeted the USA because we had troops on their holy ground of Saudi. Time went on, resentment built, terrorists plans and organizations formed they had all the time in the world and perfect justification. Now Bush comes along and says enough we want our troops out of the region. But can't leave with Sadam still in power (the reason the troops are there to begin with) so he brings it to a head for a resolution so we can get out of there.
posted by stbalbach at 4:39 AM on March 19, 2003


Don't forget to blame Clin.. oh, nevermind.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:43 AM on March 19, 2003


stbalbach, there you go again, making pantloads of sense. I didn't even know Clinton was in office for 12 years, but now I can see how his actions in the first Gulf War have caused the current situation.

On a different plane, the one often referred to as reality, you might think about a) the lack of any intention of removing troops from Saudi Arabia and the need to station troops in Iraq after offing a bunch of the civilian population; b) that the post above doesn't make a link between Saddam causing terrorism but rather asserts the U.S. brought this on themselves; and c) the nature of our American oil obsession and why it is troops have a role to play in stabilizing access to that particularly pernicious addiction.
posted by hank_14 at 4:44 AM on March 19, 2003


stbalbach - Well, everything is connected to everything else, right? Nonetheless, here is George W. Bush himself, at a recent press conference, denying any link between Iraq and the September 11th attacks:

"[Adam Boulton, Sky News (London):] One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?

THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.

THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question."

posted by troutfishing at 4:48 AM on March 19, 2003


Troutfishing, I'd like to believe your right, but who knows what that means it's ambiguous it could be interpreted many ways it's a poker phrase. If you asked your girlfriend "do you sleep around?" and she said "I can't make that claim" .. what does that mean exactly. She can't make that claim because she can't reveal the truth to you, or what. It's not clear, at least, I would not sleep any better at night if it was me.

hank_14 -- a) we will station troops as long as we need to keep the peace. However they won't be on a war footing launching daily strikes against Muslims they will be peace keepers, big difference. b) the USA intervened to stop Sadam from attacking his neighbors to avoid a world wide oil crisis c) the nature of our "obsession" is the realities that no one here is willing to discuss. That when oil goes above $40 a barrel the economy goes into recession and much above that it drags the entire world into a depression. That means everyone is personally impacted, no jobs, banks close, move in with your parents etc.. although for a lot of people that is a reality they already know.
posted by stbalbach at 5:22 AM on March 19, 2003


b) the USA intervened to stop Sadam from attacking his neighbors to avoid a world wide oil crisis

Just to clarify, do you mean in 1991 or present day. Becuase if you're talking about present day, I have seen no indications the Hussein was planning to attack a neighbouring country.
posted by smcniven at 5:30 AM on March 19, 2003


Summons the bad analogy fairy once again. Asking your girlfriend if she sleeps around versus asking Bush if he thinks Iraq had anytihng at all to do with 9/11? The implication is made that Bush wouldn't want to reveal such information, yet he's been grasping at every straw in the book for a justification for his ego-gratifying war ever since he glanced at a map one day and saw that Iraq was still there.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:38 AM on March 19, 2003


stbalbach, good recovery on the 12 years of Clinton gig. A few quick things: first, do you have any sources that argue we will leave the middle east subsequent to the Gulf Slaughter 2? second, I'm sure the folks in Iran or the fanatical so-called muslims will follow the fine line between peace-making and peace-keeping, especially since the latter will follow on the explosive heels of the former, and since their objection is to troop presence as well as bombing; third, I'm sure we'll just end all aggression in the middle east, we won't react to new terrorist threats, or help to protect Israel or our oil or whatever; fourth, the economy is already in the toilet, an assessment you probably agree with, so why spend an additional 80 billion with little domestic return? Unless there's some plan for compensation later...? Fifth, every indication is that we helped fuel Iraqi aggressions as a hedge against Iranian hegemony and the possibility of a pan-Islamic front denying us oil access - Saddam, being rather secular, was a particularly good choice in that regard, which is why we aided his use of chemical weapons and sold him military equipment.

Etc etc. Folks could go on; your position isn't really that tenable, though so far I've learned that the U.S. is to blame and that we should adopt energy sources that do not require huge uses of oil - like funding hybrid cars now for example, rather than hydrogen in 15 years. And in that regard, to a certain limited extent, I agree with you.
posted by hank_14 at 5:41 AM on March 19, 2003


smcniven -- 1991. The only reason he is not a threat today is because we have been containing him for 12 years with constant bombardments and sanctions. In effect the war never ended this is the same war continued, hopefully, to resolution so we don't end up with another North Korea situation except worse because the terrorists make our stay in Saudi long term impossible.
posted by stbalbach at 6:21 AM on March 19, 2003


I'm always wary of the use of the word 'only', as in 'only reason'. It makes me want to make equally apodictic claims, like: The only reason Saddam was ever a threat was that we aided and abetted his reign of terror. Or: The only reason he is not a threat today is because the sanctions regime has offed nearly a million people, and so his ability to produce goods or field an army has diminished. Both of those statements are true and false, much like stbalbach's pronouncement. My objection here isn't to the relative lack of truth-value or perspective found in that post, or to the bizarre paradox of 'containment works that's why we needed to attack him', but rather the rhetorical posturing of 'only reason', which I think we can check at the door. Alright, and I might object to the post.

Though I agree, we wouldn't want another North Korea situation, those can be bad, especially when it's another country where sanctions empirically fails and engagement empirically works (at least relative to its alternative). Granted, our amazingly consistent "nukes are bad but we still want them so screw the CTBT" and "biological weapons are a cause for war but we don't want to enforce the BWC" might be confusing countries like North Korea, but that's really their fault. Or maybe it's the 'only reason'...
posted by hank_14 at 6:41 AM on March 19, 2003


stbalbach - 'the economy goes into recession and much above that it drags the entire world into a depression'

Economics that is not based on the fact that resources are limited is redundant, IMHO.
This 'world-wide' recession you speak of, which countries do you think would be affected? I imagine it wouldn't make alot of difference to the majority of the population.
Recessions are the result of the boom/bust cycle that the present ecomomic system propagates.
posted by asok at 6:52 AM on March 19, 2003


I'd be interested in knowing stats on where the people who believe Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 get their news from versus those who don't. Does one group read more than the other, or is attuned to current events at all?

I don't think you could convince some pro-war people otherwise about Saddam and 9/11, because they *want* to believe it's true. The people who most want war (Duhbya included) are really, down deep, the ones who are the most scared, and it will make them feel better to attack *someone.*

They're operating with a primitive part of their brain that sends out the signal "strike back." So how can you have rational debate with those kind of people that I hear on talk radio, who can only puppet back, "Saddam could have" been involved in 9/11, and "he might" do something else?

I'm also assuming some people (perhaps Duhbya included :p) have no knowledge of the US' dismal background when it comes to regime changes. No comprehension of why we can't suddenly drop a democracy into this region. No realistic assessment of how this will ratchet tensions up and futher promote anti-US fervor.

And certainly no historical view of what happens to all military empires when they overreach.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2003


Are we turning into North Korea Lite?
No. North Korea Strong.

You two clearly need to check the seals on your tinfoil helmets.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:07 AM on March 19, 2003


MrBaliHai - You're meeting hyperbole with a sort of dismissal which refuses to debate the points at hand, and amounts to branding those with whom you disagree as kooks.

Nonetheless, 44% of Americans believe that Sadam Hussein was directly responsible, in part, for the 9-11 attacks, and the US media has not moved to inform the public of the truth. North Korea? No, but a little odd, I'd say.
posted by troutfishing at 7:23 AM on March 19, 2003


St. Balbach - Sure, George W. Bush's statement could mean many things. But - given the fact that many CIA intelligence analysts have complained that the Bush Administration is leaning heavily on them to produce evidence linking Iraq to Al Qaeda, I'd have to concur with Space Coyote that if Bush had any good evidence to this effect he would shout it out far and wide, to US citizens, from his bully pulpit (with a giant megaphone too).
posted by troutfishing at 7:41 AM on March 19, 2003


asok -- its pretty well established the world economic health is tied into the USA we generate the lions share of the wealth and everyone is connected you can see this first hand by watching the stock market indexes move in tune with the Dow. Russia and China are the exceptions because of the cold war history they are more buffered and tend to be immune. Energy prices are very sensitive its not like any other commodity so when oil goes to $40 a barrel for 3 months in a row we go into recession, every time, historically and if the unique and coveted "sweet crude" of the Persian Gulf were to stop it would be much more dramatic on the economy.

trout, you may be right it should all come to light soon theres so much cloak and dagger before a war it's impossible to know for sure why the CIA made those very public statements, it may be face value.
posted by stbalbach at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2003


"The talking points were pretty pathetic. They may work at home, but they do not work with an audience of sophisticated people who have some experience with the world, who are profoundly nervous about the Middle East and terrorism, and would like to see some signs of intelligent life in American foreign policy."

What appears sophisticated is maybe helpless, and what's pathetic to one side maybe independence and courage to another.
posted by semmi at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2003


Or independence and courage could be malevolence or stupidity.
posted by hank_14 at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2003


What appears sophisticated is maybe helpless, and what's pathetic to one side maybe independence and courage to another.

That's why most people use this thing called 'diplomacy'.
You know - the way I don't swear like a trooper at my Grans, my wife doesn't go topless in Egypt, I don't refer to those I need to deal with as an axis of evil, crusades etc...you know, complicated things.
posted by niceness at 9:39 AM on March 19, 2003


Doesn't the government have the responsibility to debunk political myths even when it would hurt them?

George Bernard Shaw
If there was twenty ways of telling the truth and only one way of telling a lie, the Government would find it out. It’s in the nature of governments to tell lies.
Or Emerson:
There exists in a great part of the Northern people a gloomy diffidence in the moral character of the government. On the broaching of this question, as general expression of despondency, of disbelief that any good will accrue from a remonstrance on an act of fraud and robbery, appeared in those men to whom we naturally turn for aid and counsel. Will the American government steal? Will it lie? Will it kill?—We ask triumphantly.
Letter, April 23, 1838, written as a protest against the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia. “Letter to Martin Van Buren, President of the United States,” Miscellanies (1883, repr. 1903).

Richard Nixon:
There can be no whitewash at the White House.
Nixon, who is more famous for the phrase, "stonewall the bastards" and for taped conversations such as the following [RTF]. Historically speaking, the answer would seem to be, not if they can get away with perpetuating those political myths.
posted by hairyeyeball at 9:53 AM on March 19, 2003


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