Thursday, January 30, 2003

Analysis of the State of the Union Address

If you have a little time, rhetoric scholar Andrew Cline analyzes the State of the Union Address.
posted at 12:27 PM

Wycliff’s latest screed against Bush
Don Wycliff, ombudsman for The Chicago Tribune, launches into another of his patented anti-Bush screeds today, focusing on the State of the Union address. After informing us that:

We led the coalition that kicked Hussein (sic) out of Kuwait, devastated his country and his army, clamped a crippling and demeaning regime of sanctions on Iraq and maintained it for the last 12 years. We've bombed his country routinely, cordoned large sections of it off from Baghdad's control and now have breathed new life into the effort to disarm Iraq--by force of arms if necessary.

None of this is any more than Hussein (sic) deserves (although his people do not), but it does give one an idea why he might be angry enough to want to lash out in the nastiest possible way at the United States.

Wycliff then minimizes all this by his misleading characterization that:

There is no evidence that Hussein (sic) has acted on that impulse--at least none that the Bush administration has seen fit to share with the American people.

Hmm. Saddam attempted to assassinate a U.S. President, has enormous stockpiles of deadly weaponized chemicals and biological agents (which he specifically promised to get rid of), is attempting to obtain a nuclear bomb and is known to harbor, fund and supply terrorist groups – several of which have targeted Americans. Nope, no evidence. Move along. Move along.

One curious point Wycliff makes, in an attempt to tar the second President Bush with the first, is that in 1990 Saddam Hussein sounded out the United States about how we would react if he invaded Kuwait, or at least the disputed area then claimed by Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie informed him that:

We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.

When questioned later, she stated:

Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take ALL of Kuwait.

But what this shows is that Saddam does respond to signals. And if the signal is that he can continue to do what he is doing without fear of American intervention, then he will continue. It shows the folly of sending ambiguous or mixed messages to Baghdad.

The unambiguous message must be do as you promised to do at the end of the Gulf War or we will remove you. Had it not been for the ambiguous message Ambassador Glaspie delivered the first time, we probably wouldn’t have had to fight the First Gulf War, or a second one. Now is not the time to be signaling Saddam that we aren’t serious.

As an aside, Saddam’s full name is Saddam Hussein al-Majd al-Tikriti. He is usually called either Saddam or Saddam Hussein. Hussein is Saddam’s father’s first name. You’d think the ombudsman of a major regional newspaper would get his name right. Yet week after week, month after month, Wycliff persists in calling Saddam by the brutal dictator's father's name.

Oh, and don’t miss Wycliff’s little dig against the U.S. and Israel at the end of his column.

As I listened to the president speak … my mind went back to one of the hit movies of last summer, "The Sum of All Fears."

…the movie depicted a terrorist group's successful effort to acquire and smuggle into the U.S. a nuclear bomb, which is detonated in Baltimore and devastates that city.

Interestingly, the nuke in that instance … was made in Israel, with fissile material supplied by the United States.

It’s a f-ing Hollywood movie, Don. Get real.

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