Gray’s latest as ‘insightful as flat beer’

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

You’ve got to hand it to Sue Gray. Actually, you have to hand it to the editorial staff at The Aspen Times for congenially reprinting our tiresome back-and-forth. Yet it need not be so. When Ms. Gray grows legitimately insecure in defending her original proposition that Iraqis as a whole are better off under Hussein, she predictably deviates into a generic “war is not the answer” boilerplate that is about as intellectually insightful as a glass of flat beer.

That among other things. First off, nobody has ever accused Gray of “condoning Hussein’s human rights abuses.” Her sin is more akin to a callous indifference evidenced by, among other things, a sudden interest in the plight of Iraqis precisely at the point of Hussein’s demise.

If Ms. Gray had been making expeditions to Iraq to pitch tents next to Scud-missile manufactories when it wasn’t just a fad, maybe I’d take her sojourn as something other than what she thinks it is: Not a morally inspired humanitarian pilgrimage that spawned insight into the plight of Iraq, but a shallow, self-congratulatory field trip she never saw fit to make when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were dying at the hands of the corruption, bribery and kickbacks that characterized her fellow “anti” warriors at the United Nations running the so-called “oil-for-food” program.

Yet even those Iraqis apparently don’t qualify as victims of, as Ms. Gray amusingly notes, “Saddam’s brutality, etc. etc.” No, only the 300,000 unearthed from mass graves by the United States can be elevated to that noble status – and even those wayward souls were (just to “keep it in perspective”) “mainly political and ideological opponents,” like the 11-year-old girls laying dead on the streets of Halabja. Living, breathing Iraqis released from their torture chambers don’t even merit an “etcetera.”

Gray is matched in her stupefying willingness to understate suffering under Hussein’s regime only by flagrant and (utterly false attempts) to overstate suffering in Iraq today: Electricity in Iraq is below prewar levels because “when [Gray] was in Baghdad,” they had electricity “22 hours a day” where “now there is only 12.” In fact, prewar electricity in Iraq averaged 4,200 megawatts. The United States surpassed that level six months ago.

Baghdad has yet to surpass prewar levels, but then again, Hussein made sure that Baghdad alone received nearly half of all Iraq’s electricity output anyway. One would expect that if not for Gray’s inability to distinguish a city from a country, she would celebrate the egalitarian sensibilities of American “terrorists” who decided that maybe other Iraqis deserved some electricity, too.

And, on of course, to the crux of her sophomoric premise: War is not the answer. Those less shortsighted might accept that the “Oxford Pledge”/Neville Chamberlain motto was an utter disaster – spawning the death and slaughter of tens of millions and a destruction of Dresden and Berlin that would make the average Baghdad resident green with envy.

Yet the “invasion, occupation, destabilization, political manipulation and suppression of opposition” of and among the Nazis led to something quite good. War may not always be the answer, but in the case of undeterrables, it has proven far preferable to the categorical declarations of phony “penseurs” who naively confuse peace with an absence of war.

Jay Pate

Snowmass Village