The Best Letter to the Editor
We received a mountain of mail about Andrew Sullivan’s “The War You’ve Got” article from last week’s issue. In a very little while, they’ll all be available to read on the website. The most eloquent of them came from former Stranger Books Editor and contributor Matthew Stadler, who is one of my favorite writers anyway. I thought I would post it here, both to give you a taste of what happens when smart people write smart letters, but also because we received it too late to run in the paper and we would have.
The most galling aspect of Andrew Sullivan's recent parody of thoughtfulness was how completely it reduced me to anger and disgust. We have unilaterally attacked a sovereign country on false pretenses that continue to be peddled by our leaders, and Andrew Sullivan's first priority is to cast an aura of thoughtful resolve over his blind support for the crime. Why does anyone look to Andrew Sullivan for his opinion on this tragedy? "Sorry to have applauded the gang rape of your daughter, everyone said she was a whore; anyhow, here are my latest thoughts about the safety of your children...” Sullivan makes a show of admitting he was wrong about Saddam's stockpiles of WMD (when he endorsed unilateral attack on Iraq), but adds that "almost no one was denying it, and I bought the almost universally assumed truth.” This is either a bald lie, or else Sullivan never reads past page one so he never knew that Hans Blix, head of the U.N. Weapons Inspection team, countered Colin Powell's (and Bush's and Cheney's and Blair's) lies about Iraqi WMD at the time. In reply to Powell, for example whose Security Council accusations in February, 2003, were given page one headlines of alarm, plus utterly corrupt and complicit mantels of editorial endorsement by idiots like Sullivan Blix replied on February 14, 2003 "no weapons of mass destruction were found in the country.” His rebuttals ran deep inside the news sections, if at all. The road forward is not through the faux-reasonableness of apologists trying to prop up their collapsing value in the pundit market; it is by recognizing the complicity of every one of us pro-War and anti-War when we facilitate the clear conscience of a duped generation of war criminals that has sadly grown to include thousands of Americans now acting on our government's directives in Iraq. We are not fighting a war against terrorism in Iraq. We are occupying and pillaging a sovereign country. The same week The Stranger gave us Sullivan's somber enactment of self-reflection, the London Review of Books ran Edward Harriman's detailed account of systemic fraud in Iraq. Of the $3 billion in Iraqi oil assets handed out by the Coalition Provisional Authority in its last weeks, two-thirds went without documentation and over half were paid with no evidence of services or goods being provided. The $8.8 billion of Iraqi oil assets spent by Iraqi ministries since then "has not been properly accounted for,” the Iraqi government's Inspector General of Iraqi Reconstruction reports.” The numbers on unaccounted American funds are even more staggering. (www.lrb.co.uk) The London Review of Books! How did Harriman find out? By reading the U.S. Government Accounting Office website and five other publicly released reports by auditors from the Pentagon, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and others. If we care at all about the reality of America's operations in Iraq, we need information, not the dramas of self-justifying apologists. Apparently that means reading the weekly book review organs to find out the news. Matthew Stadler