The 19 Dumbest Statements of the Past Week

by Harry Browne

April 20, 2004          

Politicians are a continual source of empty rhetoric, rosy promises that are never fulfilled, meaningless mom-and-apple-pie clichés, and outright lies.

Last week was a particularly fertile one for such inanities. Here are the week's 19 dumbest political statements. At the end of the list, I'll tell you who said them.

19. "Iraq will either be a peaceful, democratic country, or it will again be a source of violence, a haven for terror, and a threat to America and to the world."

Right now Iraq is "a source of violence" and certainly "a haven for terror." Or are all those bloody scenes we see on television just reruns from Miami Vice? And, of course, Iraq was never a threat to the America.

18. "Our nation honors the memory of those who have been killed, and we pray that their families will find God's comfort in the midst of their grief. . . . we will finish the work of the fallen."

In other words, Americans will continue to die as a tribute to those who have already died.

17. "We seek an independent, free and secure Iraq."

. . . Independent and free so long as it conforms to the conditions the U.S. government has laid down.

Liberation

16. "We are a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest."

Don't forget the liberated Haitians, on whom we forced Aristide. And the liberated Iranians, on whom we forced the Shah. And the Philippines, on whom we forced Marcos. And the Dominican Republic, on whom we forced the Trujillos. And Indonesia, where the U.S. government helped Suharto liberate tens of thousands of East Timorese from the burden of living.

And what about those liberated Iraqis carrying identity cards, going through road blocks and checkpoints, liberated from freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, occupied by a foreign power, their towns ringed by barbed wire, subject to raids and attacks without warrants by the U.S. military, liberated from the right to carry a gun and defend oneself against murderers and rapists?

15. "The nation of Iraq is moving toward self-rule . . . We're working closely with the United Nations envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, and with Iraqis to determine the exact form of the government that will receive sovereignty on June 30th."

I'm sorry I must have misunderstood. I thought "self-rule" meant that people determined their own form of government not a government determined by the U.S. government or the United Nations. This sounds more like the "self-rule" the Soviet Union gave to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary at the end of World War II.

14. "Iraqi's neighbors also have responsibilities to make their region more stable."

And they will shortly receive the appropriate ultimatums to inform them of their responsibilities.

13. "Over the last several decades, we've seen that any concession or retreat on our part will only embolden this enemy and invite more bloodshed."

I haven't seen any concessions or retreats by the U.S. government. What I have seen are invasions of Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq; U.S. troops stationed at over 700 foreign bases; ultimatums to foreign countries to do what American Presidents demand; resources confiscated from American taxpayers and given to brutal foreign dictators to oppress their subjects. I've yet to see any concessions or retreats, but I have seen a lot of innocent people die.

12. "We serve the cause of liberty, and that is, always and everywhere, a cause worth serving."

Speaking of liberty, have you been in an American airport lately?

Changing the World

11. "We're changing the world. And the world will be better off. . . . there's an historic opportunity here to change the world."

Which clause of the Constitution discusses the U.S. government's responsibility to change the world?

10. "[President Bush] went to the U.N., as you might recall, and said, either you take care of him, or we will. Any time an American President says, if you don't, we will, we better be prepared to. . . . And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom."

In other words, the President can make any stupid threat he wants, and all Americans are obligated to back up that threat with their money and their lives. That, I guess, is how "we serve the cause of liberty."

 9.  "The United Nations passed a Security Council resolution unanimously that said, disarm or face serious consequences. And [Hussein] refused to disarm."

The fact that Hussein had nothing to disarm apparently is irrelevant. He should have hurried over to the nearest 7-Eleven, bought some WMDs, and then disarmed.

 8.  "[Hussein] had long-range missiles that were undeclared to the United Nations; he was a danger."

Yes, those "long-range" missiles could travel 111 miles 18 miles over the allowable limit set by the UN. Think of the devastation they could have wreaked on New York City!

 7.  "The oil revenues are they're bigger than we thought they would be at this point in time. I mean, one year after the liberation of Iraq, the revenues of the oil stream is [sic] pretty darn significant."

But we were promised that the Iraqi oil revenues would pay for most of the reconstruction. Instead, we're paying hundreds of billions of dollars to reconstruct in Iraq what the U.S. military destroyed.

The Monster

 6.  "[The Iraqis are] really pleased we got rid of Saddam Hussein. And you can understand why. This is a guy who was a torturer, a killer, a maimer; there's mass graves."

Ah yes, the mass graves. No one ever explains who is in those mass graves or how they came about. Do they contain Iraqis who died during U.S. bombings? Or Iraqis and Iranians who died in the Iraq-Iran war? Or the Iraqi soldiers who were plowed under with U.S. bulldozers at the end of the Gulf War? No one seems to know. But all anyone has to do is mention the "mass graves" and we know immediately that no amount of money, no loss of American lives, no cost of any kind is too great for having rid the world of the man who created those "mass graves."

And speaking of torture, I seem to recall conservative commentators telling us not too long ago that American agents should be permitted to torture suspected terrorists. And, in fact, the American military tortured detainees in Afghanistan. But I guess that was different; that was "good guy" torture, not "bad guy" torture.

 5.  "The world is better off without Saddam Hussein."

Tell that to the 700 Americans and thousands of Iraqis who have died in the American invasion of Iraq. Tell that to the 200 Spaniards who died in a terrorist attack triggered by the Spanish government's support of the American invasion of Iraq. These people are dead! How are they better off?

And tell it to the Iraqis who now live in daily fear of being killed by a stray shell from a U.S. tank or from the rifle of a U.S. soldier who barks orders in English that an Iraqi can't understand and obey. "The world is better off" is one of those empty clichés that require no explanation, no examination, no support. But isn't it about time we did examine it?

Who's in Charge Here?

 4.  "[President Bush is] the ultimate decision-maker for this country."

Then the politicians are right: the world really is a dangerous place.

 3.  "Sometimes we use military as a last resort, but other times we use our influence, diplomatic pressure."

"Diplomacy" by the U.S. government consists of telling other countries "You're either for us or against us; now here's what you must do or we'll flatten your country."

"Influence" means using taxpayer money to bribe foreign leaders to join the "Coalition of the Willing."

 2.  "Free societies are peaceful societies."

If that's true, America obviously is not a free society. We have been at war continually since 1941, and the American military has been involved in some kind of foreign conflict in 80 of the past 100 years. A "peaceful society" doesn't invade Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, or Iraq. So, if it's true that "free societies are peaceful societies," America obviously isn't a free society.

The Wellspring of Wisdom

So who said all these dumb statements?

Every one of them was made by George Bush — "the ultimate decision-maker for this country" — at his press conference last Tuesday, April 13.

And here is the #1 dumbest political statement of the week straight from that same press conference . . . 

 1.  "As the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry . . . we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve. We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do."

So this is what it means to live in a "free society." We have obligations to virtually everyone in the world to help the spread of freedom, to fight AIDS, to provide food to North Korea. Not to take care of our own lives, not to be free to keep the money we earn or make our own decisions but instead to dutifully carry out obligations imposed on us by El Presidente.

I don't know about you, but I don't believe George Bush has the faintest idea what freedom means. The only thing he understands is power the power to say anything he feels like without consequence, the power to lock people up and throw away the key, the power to impose his will on any country in the world, the power to define our obligations for us.

When will we be liberated?