TCS Daily

Welcome to Bizarro-World

By Greg Buete - September 24, 2002 12:00 AM

Thanks to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for stating in a recent press conference a peculiar but profound truth.

One of the things I have found most bizarre about the last few weeks is the sight of very decent, liberal-minded people lining up and saying effectively that we shouldn't do anything about the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Indeed! Sometimes I find a media report on Iraq and become mired in a swamp of total frustration. How can so many people, who are obviously educated, speak and act in a manner that is totally irrational and unreasonable? Now I know the answer: They're from Bizarro-World.

You remember Bizarro-World, don't you? Recall your comic book history. Bizarro-Superman was Superman's archrival. He was a duplicate of Superman only he was Superman's opposite. Bizarro-Superman lived on a planet that looked the same as ours but was otherwise a complete opposite; stop-signs were go-signs, beauty-parlors were ugly-parlors, you were greeted with "goodbye" and so on. This planet was called Bizarro-World. Those who Blair speaks of must be from Bizarro-World. It's the only explanation.

Only in Bizarro-World could any person defend the cruel, inhumane regime of Saddam Hussein, especially after September 11. Only in Bizarro-World could seemingly normal people oppose, delay, hem and haw over, or otherwise attempt to sabotage a movement to remove such a threat to world security. Oh, sure, they have their arguments. Some say the case has not been made even though we've done nothing but play this broken record for 12 years. Only in Bizarro-World. Some say we have no proof of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Note the word proof. But there's a difference between proof and evidence. We have ample evidence. Only in Bizarro-World would a person confuse the two. The proof the citizens of Bizarro-World require may one day take place in the form of a nuclear device exploding in the desert, or worse, in an American port.

Recall the words of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who in his August 1998 resignation letter cited Iraq's deception regarding their UN-sanctioned weapons disarmament. "The sad truth is that Iraq today is not disarmed anywhere near the level required by Security Council resolutions," wrote Ritter. "Iraq has lied to the Special Commission and the world since day one concerning the true scope and nature of its proscribed programs and weapons systems. This lie has been perpetuated over the years through systematic acts of concealment. It doesn't take long to recognize this."

Shortly after his resignation Ritter appeared before Congress and told them that Iraq, "through its consistent policy of obstructionism," continued to achieve concessions from both the UN and Clinton administration. Ritter warned Congress that Iraq has "paid no price for telling one lie after another, and continuing its obstruction of the weapons inspection teams." Remember this statement when the Bizarro-World members of the UN insist that the US push for weapons inspectors in place of regime change. Ritter's pleas were four years ago. That same year, Saddam Hussein expelled all UN weapons inspectors, thus giving Saddam four years of unhindered development.

Yet now Ritter has become Saddam Hussein's biggest apologist and cheerleader. Ritter, having forgotten his own worries about Saddam's weapons four years ago, personally visited Iraq to urge them to invite more weapons inspections. Ritter now says that claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are "rhetorical." Bizarro-Ritter no longer mentions that Iraq obstructed the weapons inspections to the point of ineffectiveness and would likely do so again. His beliefs also contradict Hussein's now defected chief bomb maker, Khidhir Hamza, who said that Saddam should complete his nuclear core by 2005.

Foreign journalists have visited the suspected terrorist training site Salman Pak with Ritter. He insisted to reporters present that Iraq uses Salman Pak to train commandos in hostage-rescue techniques. The camp includes a mockup of a wingless Boeing 707. In Bizarro-World Iraq has had a big problem with crazed Protestant-Americans hijacking their planes.

This, of course, differs dramatically from the statements of Earth-bound former UN weapons inspectors, such as Richard Butler, or Iraqi military officers now defected to the West, such as former Captain for Iraqi Division of Special Operations Sabah Khodada. Captain Khodada worked at Salman Pak for 10 years, and says it was used to train both Iraqis and Arab nationals in the art of terrorism. Khodada says that Iraq uses the Boeing 707 fuselage to train hijackers to overpower the flight crew using forks, knives, pens, pencils and even sunglasses. Sound familiar?

Khodada believes that through this facility September 11 hijackers could be connected to Iraq. It should be pointed out that Khodada now works for an Iraqi opposition group and may have reason to heighten September 11 linkage to Iraq. However, the point here is that Saddam Hussein trains both Iraqis and other Arab nationals on terrorism in the same manner as Al Qaeda. Other former UN inspectors such as Butler have also confirmed Salman Pak. Only a nincompoop - or a former UN inspector from Bizarro-World - would believe that Saddam Hussein uses Salman Pak for hostage-rescue training. What Mr. Ritter is saying is that given a choice he believes Saddam over former defected Iraqi army members and fellow UN inspectors. That's not just insane, that's Hu-ssein!

Perhaps the most convincing proof that we're among Bizarro-World citizens comes from the media itself. You need only read a day's press reports to find yourself in the middle of downtown Bizarro, as a recent AP report highlights. In this report quotes are taken from "ordinary" Iraqis who condemn American policy as justified reason for the September 11 attacks. Shop-owners and housewives ask how Americans would feel if somebody was trying to change their government. Of course, those of us not living on Bizarro-World understand the concept. It's called an "election." Such shoddy journalism to tug our heartstrings could only occur in Bizarro-World. In reading the media's typical coverage of Iraq, one might conclude that the majority of Iraqis consider themselves free, content, and loyal to Saddam Hussein. Because on Earth it's completely asinine to think that a dictator who rules with extreme brutal force would be popularly supported. On Earth, when a journalist goes about looking for quotes from "ordinary" Iraqi citizens they should remind readers of two very important facts:

  • There is no freedom of speech in Iraq and therefore citizens will be (and are) punished harshly for any criticism of the Iraqi leadership, and particularly of Saddam Hussein.

  • Because there is no free speech, open assembly, or free press, all education and media are the direct propaganda of Saddam Hussein.

If America became a Bizarro-World there would be no NY Times, WSJ, CBS, FOX News, or other independent media. There would only be a government that gives marching orders for every single piece of journalistic or literary matter. All media in Iraq is government censored, and Saddam's son Uday even owns a state paper. Any true dissenting person unhappy over the rule of Saddam, or who might secretly be hoping for an American liberation force to relieve him of life in tyranny, would never even think of speaking his mind to a reporter for fear of his own life and those of his family. Of course, you don't have to go to Bizarro-World to find that, you only need travel to Iraq.

According to Amnesty International, Iraq uses amputation, mutilation, and branding, among other heinous torture, to deal with all forms of political opponents and dissenters. For example, in 1999 the Saddam Security Directorate dealt with Al-Shaikh Nazzar Kadhim al-Bahadli, a dissident theology student, by torturing him for long periods of time. When that didn't work, they found a better way. The security force tortured his wife, mother and father in front of him until he confessed. Al-Bahadli was executed shortly thereafter.

In another case, former Iraqi army general Najib al-Salihi, who fled Iraq and joined the Iraqi opposition, received a videotape from the Iraqi intelligence service showing a female relative of al-Salihi's being raped, presumably by Iraqi guards.

Do the Bizarro-reporters really think under these conditions "ordinary" Iraqis are going to say how they really feel about Hussein? Under such a watchful eye the "ordinary" Iraqi will express nothing less than complete contempt for America, and tie his hunger and poverty to UN sanctions. He certainly will not say that Saddam Hussein earns more than enough money from both the UN oil-for-food program and illegal oil smuggling via Turkey and Syria to keep his people healthy and fed.

In another slice of Bizarro-reporting, Iraq took two busloads of foreign journalists to the suspected Tawaitha research facility to prove that Iraq's intentions were benign. Predictably, the buildings were empty. The Iraqis say the buildings are used for simple nonnuclear pharmaceutical and agricultural facilities; one structure was declared an "animal house." In fact, reporters say there was no "evidence of anything remotely nuclear," and Iraqi officials assured them that they had no intentions to build any nuclear weapons. Iraqi officials then led the reporters to the disputed buildings, which only housed, in Bizarro-World, an electronic drafting workshop and a mushroom farm.

With flashbulbs flaring an Iraqi official picked up a mushroom and stated as he chewed, "If America doesn't believe us... Everything we produce in Iraq is very delicious." Those witty Iraqis. And here we were worried. No need to worry in Bizarro-World!

Reporters say that they were never allowed to wander away from the group, which was strictly monitored by Iraqi officials. Is that a surprise? Not in Bizarro-World. The reporters on these scripted tours have allowed themselves to become Saddam's unwitting pawns. Could an untrained reporter not from Bizarro-World know the difference between a benign biological or chemical facility versus one that weaponizes substances? Could reporters have even known if they really were in the exact locations they were supposed to be in? Could not the more villainous materials be kept secret in another room or underground, far away from cameras? Nonetheless, expect these same journalists to return to their country's papers and no doubt paint Iraq as a beacon of honesty and openness, while painting Bush and Blair as simpleton politicians with ulterior motives.

Tony Blair was absolutely correct in his assessment. Inaction or even allowing Saddam to toy with more weapons inspectors while he strengthens his power and high-technology weapons is bizarre behavior indeed. Still, the world demands the U.S. accept UN inspectors as a solution. The definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Of course, that's rational thinking... if you're from Bizarro-World.



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