Friday, October 13, 2006

Danielle Pletka's world of delusion

Danielle Pletka, Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, is one of the guests on tonight's HBO Real Time with Bill Maher, and she's airing her bizarre delusions for the world to see.

Read more...She claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has said that he wants to destroy the United States. In fact, he has said that he wants to destroy Israel, and he has said that he believes that Muslims should isolate the U.S. and Britain, but he has never, at least since becoming President, publicly called for the destruction of the United States.

Her delusions really shine through, though, in her creation of the right's favorite straw-man argument, that anyone who believes that the Bush Administration has done a horrifically bad job in Iraq must somehow believe that we personally are morally worse than Saddam.

Bill Maher: For the next 100 years, these people are going to hate America because we went in there condescendingly and said to them, you know what, you're a backwards society, we're going to bring you —

Danielle Pletka: We said, "Don't die under Saddam Hussein." Where's your humanity?

[discussion about how many people died under Saddam vs. under the U.S. occupation, poison gas, Iran-Iraq War, Kurds, etc.]

Maher: We're supposed to be the good guys!

Pletka: You cannot equate the United States military, the men and women who serve in that military, to the government of Saddam Hussein; that's wrong.

Ben Affleck: Stop, stop. Ma'am, that's grotesque. You're recharacterizing his argument to win the argument to all of a sudden conflate what he is saying, which is, "Did more people die under Saddam Hussein?"

Pletka [to Bill Maher]: You said we're just as bad as Saddam Hussein! You did!

Affleck: No, he didn't say that. What he said was, "Did more people die or not as a result of this invasion?," and you turn around and say to him, "Well, you're saying that American soldiers are the same as Saddam Hussein." That's horrible, hideous, and offensive.

Pletka [to Bill Maher]: That is exactly what you said! ... We'll go back and get the transcript and fight about it later, but that is what you implied, for sure. I'm sorry.
To borrow a phrase from Danielle Pletka's earlier comments, "Horse manure!" Bill Maher neither said nor implied anything remotely close to suggesting that American soldiers — or Americans in general, or the American government — are the same as Saddam Hussein or his government. Not even the slightest whiff of a hint of a possibility of an analogy. The point he was making by exclaiming, "We're supposed to be the good guys!" is that it is not enough for the United States to simply claim to be less evil than Saddam Hussein. We have set the stage for a massive civil war, out of which a peaceful and stable Iraq might emerge in another couple of decades, but in the mean time we have made the situation far worse for the average Iraqi citizen — and that is precisely why the people there hate us so much, and why a majority of them believe that it is acceptable to attack and kill American soldiers.

In particular, the suggestion that the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam Hussein than they are in the current situation is not at all the same thing as suggesting that American soldiers or administrators are just as evil as Saddam Hussein and his henchmen. It is simply saying that we fucked up Iraq because we didn't know what we were doing. Whatever else Saddam did — and he did a lot of horrible things — he didn't allow the Shia and the Sunnis to go around killing each other at random, blowing up mosques, killing people waiting in line to buy bread or kerosene, and running suicide bombers into masses of people. Yes, Saddam's police hauled people off in the dead of night to be tortured and killed, and no one is suggesting that's a good thing. However, the simple reality is that people are being hauled off in the dead of night — or in broad daylight — in the current civil war, in greater numbers than under Saddam.

The United States went into Iraq to depose Saddam, but we did it without a plan to secure the peace, and by committing that ghastly blunder, we have created a situation that is even worse for the Iraqi people than living under Saddam. How was it our right to tell the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died since 2003 that we have decided that they should give up their lives for their country to be free of the evil dictator Saddam Hussein? The tragic mistake made by the right, as exemplified tonight by Danielle Pletka, is the belief that the U.S., because of its intrinsic moral goodness, can do no wrong. She seems to honestly believe that we went into Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people because we had only their best interests at heart, and that is a delusion.

I realize that it's difficult to get a coherent conservative on Bill Maher's program, but Danielle Pletka did not comport herself well tonight.

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