John Murtha in Congress, Uncle Henry in the Attic
What had John Murtha, known affectionately as The Prince of Pork, purring away this week was the following statement by Gates: “’Terrorism has always been a tactic of the weak against the strong, and I think you won’t eliminate it altogether ever,’ Mr. Gates told the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee that Mr. Murtha chairs. ‘I think that we and other nations need to look at the social, economic and political conditions that give rise to the kind of despair that would lead people to strap on suicide vests,’ the defense secretary said.”
Murtha chimed in: “Let me tell you, that’s as good an answer as I’ve heard, Mr. Secretary, and I appreciate what you’re saying.”
As I’ve explained to Jerome Sherman (longsuffering enough to be a frequent reader of my urgent e-mails to him), I have a problem – a very serious one – with Gates’s statement and Murtha’s comment.
My problem is that the Gates statement just isn't true. Consider, for example, the many cases in the past century of the strong terrorizing the weak.
For example, the Nazis, who had absolute power in Germany, regularly terrorized Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, and any other minority group they could find. In the Soviet Union under Stalin, the Communist Party terrorized kulaks, Christians, "white Russians," and anyone else that Joseph Stalin didn’t like. In the Middle East, authoritarian governments (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, and others) regularly terrorize weaker groups.
Consider the behavior of al Qaeda in Iraq. A month or so ago, they used a car bomb on an athletic field, killing 18 high school-age soccer players. Yesterday, they bombed a market in a Shiite neighborhood, killing – according to CNN – mostly women and children.
I don’t think either Gates or Murtha would characterize this as the weak using terrorism against the powerful. Soccer players? Women and children? Americans in an office building -- or embassies?
Remember what Alexander the Great said in response to a question about the fundamental reality of life? “The weak give what they must; the strong take what they wish.” Therefore, terrorism – other than the relatively incidental variety (Tim McVeigh?), is primarily inflicted by the strong on the weak.
So, I ask in all candor, “Exactly what the h--l are Murtha and Gates talking about?” What they’re doing is spouting the old liberal Democratic view that, when we find people engaging in mass murder (the purpose of strapping on those suicide vests), our duty is to enquire into – but never truly discover – the root causes, social, political, and economic.
Of course, if we were ever good enough – or lucky enough – actually to pinpoint those causes, we wouldn’t have a clue what to do next. After all, how would one go about transforming dozens of economically and social backward countries, making up most of the Islamic world, to the point where their citizens actually would beging engaging in something resembling civilized behavior?
In other words, Secretary Gates blows smoke up John Murtha’s butt and the Johnstown Democrat moos contentedly. It is not a pretty sight. Where is Don Rumsfeld when he need him?
Of course I recognize that Jerome Sherman and other reporters have to treat John Murtha in a balanced manner. That is, they can’t treat him with the contempt he so rich deserves – and that I dole out whenever he merits it, which is almost always.
John Murtha regularly says things that are absurd. He told “Meet the Press” that the U.S. should redeploy the troops in Iraq to Okinawa, which is 5,000 miles from where the terrorists gather. He also told “Meet the Press” that there was no terrorism, “none,” as he put it, in Iraq in the good old days under Saddam – an assertion I and others have shown is demonstrably false.
So, what are people like Jerome Sherman to do about our elderly (i.e., eight years old than I) cantankerous, embarrassing Congressman? I suggest, with my usual humility, that they should ignore him. That is, they should treat like old Uncle Henry, who spends most of his time babbling away in his attic bedroom.
If John Murtha ever comes up with an idea about how to fight terrorism, which he has not done to this point, the press should note it. In this regard, they won’t need to keep their pen and paper at the ready.
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