Setting the bar of liberation low ...

News & Politics

I assume the OpinionJournal's Brendan Miniter is one of the right's legion of hawkish Keyboard Kommandos. If he had ever served in the military, he couldn't possibly disrespect our vets as brazenly as he did in his column today about the film "Jarheads" (which I haven't seen).

But the fact that Miniter hates our troops (and therefore America) isn't what I want to talk about. I want to highlight one passage for what it says about the pro-war crowd's definition of 'liberation':

[Gulf War I vet and "Jarheads" writer Anthony] Swofford turns out to be a cynic who had no opportunities outside of joining the Marines and who is dismayed because his service has left him unable to settle back into society. In Saudi Arabia, he and his fellow Marines find the tedium of waiting for war unbearable. But then liberating Kuwait turns out to be anticlimactic…
And this for a war many on the left held up last year as a model of legitimate, multilateral military action with the clear moral aim of expelling Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. A war that might even, if you will, have passed the "global test."
Two points. First - and I know this is far too nuanced for folks like Miniter -- the first Gulf War was both legitimately multilateral (passing the "global test," AKA not subjecting us to the scorn of the world) and its goal -- restoring an oil dictatorship that was still a friendly client to the West and cutting down to size another that was causing trouble - wasn't exactly virtuous.

Which brings me to Miniter's witless characterization that Swofford's service was about "liberating" Kuwait. Note how casually he tosses the word around. But, after all that, just how "liberated" is Kuwait?

According to a Human Rights Watch report [$$] about the first year following the intervention:
Despite calls to defend human rights in rallying support for the war against Iraq, the reinstated Kuwaiti government has trampled on those rights at nearly every turn, often with the use of violence. Murder, torture, arbitrary detention, and unlawful deportation have been the tools of this campaign of vengeance…The victims, almost uniformly long-term residents of Kuwait, are principally Palestinians, Iraqis, and the stateless Arabs known as Bedoons.
In 1993, the Kuwaiti government closed down all human rights organizations and NGOs working in the country. In it's 2000 report, "Promises Betrayed," Human Rights Watch detailed "Kuwaiti laws and practices which systematically discriminate against women and stateless Bidun, and laws which criminalize free expression by journalists, academics, and writers."

According to Amnesty International's 2003 Country Report:
The effects of the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the USA continued to be felt in Kuwait. Dozens of men were detained on suspicion of involvement in "terrorist" activities. More than 30 political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, continued to be held; they had been convicted in manifestly unfair trials since 1991. The fate of more than 70 people who "disappeared" in custody in 1991 remained unknown … There were reports of torture, none of which appeared to have been independently investigated.
Kuwait is a monarchy. 10 percent of its citizens are eligible to vote. There are no elections for Prime Minister -- he's appointed by the Crown Prince. You can be arrested for insulting the government, tried in a kangaroo court and forgotten in prison.

That's how low the interventionist cheerleaders - both right and left -- set the bar, which is yet another reason supporting these kinds of adventures is so utterly immoral.

PS: It's entirely possible that the man we first installed as Iraq's Prime Minister following the latest Gulf War, Iyad Allawi, got pissed off one night and shot seven restrained prisoners in the head. Ours was the only English-language media that essentially ignored the allegation.

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