August 21, 2003

What Must Be Said

Joe Katzman is one of my favorite conservatives in the blogosphere. No. Wait. I shouldn’t put it that way.

Joe Katzman is one of the best writers in the blogosphere.

How many other Jews after September 11 dedicate every single Sabbath to finding and writing something good about Islam?

How many others are as kind and respectful toward those he does not agree with?

He’s Canadian, so maybe that explains it. Yes, I’m kidding, but I’m only half kidding.

Seriously, though. Because he is conservative he is able to say some things that I am not able to say. Or, perhaps I could say them but I cannot have the same impact.

This is a painful post to write, but it needs to be written. I hate the U.N. too, but some of the posts out there in the wake of the Baghdad bombing crossed a very important line.

This post by Emperor Misha I, and a few of the comments associated with it, are probably the most widely publicized. Regrettably, in the comments section of this Winds of Change.NET post, team member Trent Telenko wrote in one of his comments:

"Too bad the Al-Qaeda didn't use a bigger bomb (August 20, 2003 02:56 AM)."

What we have here, is a failure to communicate. Not theirs - they communicated all too well. So perhaps it's mine. Brothers, listen. Carefully.

Please go read the rest.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 21, 2003 11:07 PM

What bothered me most in the comments was the insistence by these people - I won't honor them by mentioning their names - that individual UN employees were guilty by association with their parent organization and its past actions.No matter that they were there to help the Iraqi people - and to help us,the free world - to some persons this link made them somehow less deserving of sympathy.

To claim,in any way,that the victims of the Baghdad bomb somehow deserved it,is to cross the line between justified anger and bigotry.It also just happens to be what separates the IDF and the US military,who try to kill terrorists while minimizing civilian casualties,from the terrorists who seek nothing but the maximum amount of civilian deaths.How curious of them not to see the difference.

Katzman got it right.Thanks.

Posted by: JH at August 22, 2003 04:31 AM

Yes, thanks, Michael, for drawing attention to Katzman's important post. I hope Glenn Reynolds links to it, so "everyone" will read it.

Posted by: Mike Smith at August 22, 2003 07:17 AM

Of course Katzman is right and I will link to him on a post of mine already linked by Glenn. As I have blogged, I think what actually occurred in Baghdad is suspicious for a number of reasons--but that has nothing to do with the people being murdered deserving it.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at August 22, 2003 09:10 AM

I'm really fascinated by the virus-like spread of conspiracy theories now floating about to explain how the UN, for some reason, did this to itself. As someone else suggested, I expect to be hearing shortly how none of the French employees showed up to work that day.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 22, 2003 09:37 AM

His posts are always excellent but require some time to read so I don't always get a chance to fully digest them.
By the way just read the Jean Sasson book Princess.

I strongly recommend reading it and buying the full trilogy set at Amazon for 20 bucks. Because after reading the first one you are just going to go back and order the other 2 like I just did!

I read it in 3 sittings and I'm a novice reader at best, impatient and maybe read 1 book every other year! Pathetic I know! AND I COULDN'T PUT THE BOOK DOWN. Quick, well written, exciting and detailed book, only about 260 pages. A good reader could finish it in 1 night probably and likely won't be able to stop reading until they do.


Posted by: Mike at August 22, 2003 12:04 PM


Like I told Joe, context is everything. This is the full quote:

"This is a case of UN evolution in action.

The U.N. requested that American military forces not provide heavy security for political reasons.

The UN-icks did not want to "..seem to close to the US" or " seen as endorsing US actions."

Too bad the Al-Qaeda didn't use a bigger bomb.

Posted by: Trent Telenko on August 20, 2003 02:56 AM "

And this is my apology:

Was that over the top? Yes, it was. I apologize for that. It was morally wrong to suggest the U.N. deserved to be truck bombed. What I was trying to say was if the local U.N. people wanted to get a Darwin award that much. The bomb should have been bigger to get the ones working for the award. I was unaware at the time the bombing was most likely an inside job and not one by terrorists.

And this is from the NY TIMES article:

"The official said all of the guards at the compound were agents of the Iraqi secret services, to whom they reported on United Nations activities before the war. The United Nations continued to employ them after the war was over, the official said.

The official said that when investigators began questioning the guards, two of them asserted that they were entitled to "diplomatic immunity" and refused to cooperate. Diplomats working in foreign countries are often entitled to immunity from prosecution by local authorities, but the official said the two guards could make no such claim.

Investigators are continuing to question the guards, the official said.

"We believe the U.N.'s security was seriously compromised," the official said, adding that "we have serious concerns about the placement of the vehicle" and the timing of the attack. The bomb exploded directly under the third-floor office of the United Nations coordinator for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, while he was meeting with a prominent American human rights advocate, Arthur C. Helton. Both men were killed, along with several top aides to Mr. Vieira de Mello.

In New York, a United Nations official reacted skeptically to the assertions. "All of us are trying to get to the bottom of this," said Fred Eckhard, spokesman for the secretary general, Kofi Annan. "In fact, the secretary general is sending his security coordinator to Baghdad this evening to investigate the bombing. But the task is not made easier by the conspiracy theories circulating. We'll have to separate as best we can fact from speculation."

No one connected to the United Nations office in Baghdad, which was demolished in the bombing, could be reached for comment. The United Nations had a large presence in Iraq before the war, running the oil-for-food program and housing teams of weapons inspectors."

Darwin award or inside job, you decide.

I want to know which aides of de Mello were not at this meeting.

Posted by: Trent Telenko at August 22, 2003 01:05 PM

First let me say I think Katzman is right on. However, there is another aspect of this which I have not seen discussed.

As Glenn Reynolds has noted, some people are observing that for the UN and the media the word "terrorist" is flowing more freely from the lips.

Question: is it possible to be sorry for the loss of life, but still be glad the bombing happened? If the UN really is essential to the eventual success of anti-terrorist actions worldwide (and this is debatable), and the only way the UN was ever going to realize the truth about terrorism was through a tragedy such as the recent bombing (conjecture), then is it acceptable to be glad it happened, if only privately?

See, e.g., Churchill's reaction to Pearl Harbor:
Winston Churchill reacted not with sorrow, but with great relief and even joy. As he wrote in his diary on December 8, 1941: "I knew the United States was in the war now up to the neck, so we have won after all."
Thoughts? Posted by: lewy14 at August 22, 2003 04:18 PM

is it possible to be sorry for the loss of life, but still be glad the bombing happened?

No. But you can say that some good has come from it, nevertheless.

Be very. Very. Careful where you go with this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 22, 2003 04:27 PM

I doubt it; I see where you're coming from, but the UN in 2003 is a vastly different organization than the US government in 1941, even if you remove the obvious differences. After Pearl Harbor Roosevelt had no choice (not that there's any suggestion he was reluctant to enter the war). To resist reacting and entering the war with anything less than full force would have been political (and possibly personal) suicide. The UN is not only unlikely to come under any internal pressure to finally take sides in the war on terror--it's likely to come under quite a lot of internal pressure to stay out of it, at best.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 22, 2003 04:34 PM

MJT, yes, carefully. I'm posting this in lieu of playing in the traffic today.

I don't think anyone could imagine Churchill saying "Too bad they didn't use more bombs". He had the decency to share his "joy" exclusively with his diary. Nonetheless, there is no denying he was glad. And I don't begrudge him.

Anyone who says out loud "I'm glad they got bombed" has explaining to do at best, and arguably, apologies to make whatever the case. But the sentiment itself is not indefensible. The difference between Misha's "joy" and Churchill's "joy" is not one of degree or of a line being crossed, but a difference of genuine substance.

Personally, I agree with Christopher that nothing good will likely come of this: the Pearl Harbor example is only an example of a certain kind of reaction, and not an analogy. The loss of life here is a pure, senseless tragedy. I am not in any sense glad. And if I was, I'd likely keep it to myself, lest I give offense to the families of the dead and comfort to the genuine haters out there.

Posted by: lewy14 at August 22, 2003 05:10 PM

Also, let's not forget, Churchill recorded his reaction in his diary, not in a broadcast. Ah, for the days of decorum.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at August 22, 2003 08:34 PM


It takes someone from the right like Joe Katzman to reprimand those who have crossed a line in response to the UN bombing.

It takes someone from the left like you to reprimand the UN for its past winking at terrorists. Its ironic that those who bombed the UN are now "terrorists" rather than "militants" or some other such weasel word.

You applaud Joe Kaztman. Now take your turn at criticizing the UN from the other side.

Posted by: HA at August 23, 2003 04:14 AM

In defense of Churchill,he may not have known about the details,like the number of the dead,at the time of the writing.And in any case,this happened in the days before television and satellite connections would bring us the horrors of war in real,or near real,time.It is another thing to hear about a tragedy in the neutral language of a wire service report,quite another to see it for yourself.

Besides,Churchill was right about what it meant to have the US join the war.Compared to what winning or losing the war meant,the Pearl Harbor was a small loss,no matter how horrible to those involved.

Given what was at stake,I can understand why he felt that way.

Posted by: JH at August 23, 2003 04:34 AM

That's Telenko's apology?

Jesus Christ, what a piece of human garbage he is. Just when you think the rightwing has reached its nadir, they surprise you by sinking to new depths.

Posted by: JadeGold at August 24, 2003 03:32 PM

Be very. Very. Careful where you go with this.

Honestly, I'd prefer that they not; this sort of thing exposes the fascist right for what it really is, and that's information which people need to have.

Posted by: Kimmitt at August 25, 2003 09:52 AM


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