Joe Conason's Journal

Horowitz wants proof? Here it is. Plus: Did a Pentagon advisor promise a U.S. attack on Iraq?

By Salon Staff
Published November 25, 2002 9:54PM (UTC)
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Here's the proof, David
David Horowitz now demands that I produce quotes proving he "smears his adversaries with treason." Embarrassingly for him, a quote of exactly that kind is conveniently available here. It happens to be on a Web site he linked in his "rebuttal."

Here's another example: His own column's hysterical headline about the Oct. 26 peace march screamed, "100,000 Communists March on Washington to Give Aid and Comfort to Saddam Hussein." But as Salon's Michelle Goldberg explained in the excellent article Horowitz cites, there is a profound "disconnection between the politics of the organizers and the attendees" at such events. Most of the demonstrators are ordinary Americans who simply oppose another war on Iraq. Describing them all as Saddam-loving, traitorous communists is an ugly slur, as Horowitz knew when he wrote that headline.


He also accuses me of seeking to stifle debate about "terrorist sympathizers" on the left. If that were my purpose, I wouldn't have written an Observer column immediately after 9/11 sharply critical of those who suggested "that the attacks must be 'understood' as the reaction of the world's dispossessed to the depredations of an imperial America."

In that same column I also stated my own unambiguous view of al-Qaida. The enemy, I wrote then, "is not an oppressed nationalist group with negotiable goals. It is instead a reactionary international movement with aspirations to destroy Western democracy. Its ideology is medieval, opposed to progress in every sense. Its policy is the brutal repression of women, labor, peasants and any dissenting social force. Its model is its own version of 'the Caliphate,' meaning an imperial perversion of Islam that puts infidels to the sword. Its bloodlust would not be satisfied by a just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. That barbarism is what needs to be understood -- and resisted with force."

I have no objection to principled criticism of the antiwar left, with which I have little in common politically. What I do find repugnant are the accusations of treason, disloyalty, communism and anti-Americanism so promiscuously bandied about by the likes of Horowitz and Limbaugh.
[2:02 p.m. PDT, Nov. 25, 2002]


Mirror images
If a British tabloid's "exclusive report" on Richard Perle's remarks is accurate, the Bush security advisor and the Iraqi government are in agreement about the likely outcome of the weapons inspections that resumed today.

In a letter to the United Nations that was released today, Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri complained to Kofi Annan that the inspection regime creates "pretexts for attack" by the United States. Although Iraq has agreed to cooperate with the inspections that resume today, Baghdad clearly assumes that nothing it can say or do will prevent an eventual invasion. According to an account of a meeting in Parliament last Tuesday evening that appeared in the Daily Mirror on Nov. 20, Perle said essentially the same. The London tabloid's Whitehall bureau chief reported that in his remarks to British MPs, Perle -- the supremely hawkish chairman of the Pentagon's defense policy board -- "stunned" his listeners when he "admitted the U.S. would attack Iraq even if U.N. inspectors failed to find weapons."

The Mirror quotes Perle expressing his well-known doubts about the inspection process: "I cannot see how Hans Blix can state more than he can know. All he can know is the results of his own investigations. And that does not prove Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction."


In other words, neither Saddam nor Blix can prove a negative. As a matter of logic, nobody can, which means that if the U.S. is determined to go to war, it will have to come up with something more damning. It is the second remark attributed to Perle by the Mirror that suggests more specifically how a war may begin. "Suppose we are able to find someone who has been involved in the development of weapons and he says there are stores of nerve agents. But you cannot find them because they are so well hidden."

I haven't been able to find any other account of Perle's reported remarks. But that scenario doesn't sound far-fetched.
[8:37 a.m. PST, Nov. 25, 2002]


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