9.08.2013

Peggy Noonan hated Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons attacks, except the ones her boss actively supported

Margaret Ellen Noonan, affectionately known as Peggy, is a Republican hack and the nation's worst political columnist. She has made an entire career out of contorting her boring, partisan views to make them appear principled and independent to people who don't know better. For example, Peggy staunchly defended the Surveillance State right up until she realized it was becoming fashionable to attack the Democratic president who currently heads it, and then devoted virtually an entire summer of columns warning that the very same Surveillance State is, it turns out, a hellishly totalitarian nightmare with the potential to destroy America and everything it stands for.

After 9/11, she was all too thrilled to join the frenzy of militaristic hysteria and support her sexy and charismatic president as he started a criminally insane war that killed hundreds of thousands of people; now, she's a highly incredulous dove, with all sorts of misgivings about air strikes that will probably last two or three days. It's this and many other things - such as talking to adults as though they were 5-year-old children and making electoral predictions based on mystical vibrations in her head - that make her the nation's worst political columnist.

Many moons ago, back When Character Was King, Noonan worked as a speechwriter for the man she considers the moral equivalent of Christ, Ronald Reagan. In other words, she was a professional liar, paid to compose the most convincing lies for an administration that was as fanatically dishonest as any in American history. This skill, as one might expect, has carried into over Peggy's career as a columnist, which is increasingly a source of embarrassment for the Wall Street Journal, the United States, the English language itself, etc.

In Peggy's September 7 column, she comes out against the potential attack in Syria, which anyone could see coming from a mile away. Of course, being the self-appointed ventriloquist of The American People, Peggy doesn't so much express personal disapproval with the military proposal, but merely conveys the disapproval of her fellow countrymen and explains to all of us why The American People think the way they think. It is literally inconceivable that Peggy would oppose this war if a Republican, a Real American, were in office, but let's leave that aside and focus on one particular claim in the first graf of the column, which starts thusly:
It is hard, if you've got a head and a heart, to come down against a strong U.S. response to Syria's use of chemical weapons against its civilian population. This is especially so if you believe that humanity stands at a door that leads only to darkness. Those who say, "But Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons—the taboo was broken long ago," are missing the point. When Saddam used gas against the Kurds it was not immediately known to all the world. It was not common knowledge. The world rued it in retrospect.
That second sentence, the one about humanity and doors and darkness, is a classic Noonanism, a great example of the kind of vacuous, substantively vacant nonsense that usually makes up about 75% of her columns. Then, though, Peggy says something very interesting, that "when Saddam used gas against the Kurds it was not immediately known to all the world."

Please notice that Peggy did not say that we were all clueless "when used Saddam used gas," but instead specified "when Saddam used gas against the Kurds." There is a very good reason why she constructed that sentence the way she did. In August of 2013, Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid of Foreign Policy Magazine reported the following after viewing recently declassified CIA files and interviewing former intelligence officials:
In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.
According to Harris, the CIA "knew as early as 1983 - five years before those attacks - that the Iraqis were using chemical weapons against the Iranians," and had "a lot of information about what was happening."

This wasn't just shady underground CIA stuff, either. The Reagan White House, in which Character Was King, was fully aware of what was happening:
CHAKRABARTI: Well, tell us more about that, because you report that the Reagan administration, at the time - you know, as you're saying - basically decided that it was better to let these chemical attacks continue by the Iraqis, because they thought it would turn the tide of the Iran-Iraq war. 
HARRIS: Yeah, that's right. 
.....

This was something that was, you know, approved, really, our reporting shows, at the highest levels of the Reagan administration, and again knowing that this attack from the Iraqis would be accompanied by chemical weapons.
In 1988, when Saddam's U.S.-supported war crime took place, Peggy was busy composing bullshit phrases like "a thousand points of light" and "kinder, gentler nation" for the presidential campaign of Ronnie's designated successor. Maybe no one in the office told her about any of this unpleasantness out of fear that it might hinder her ability to effectively write glowing speeches about America's greatness. Or maybe she only "rues" those chemical weapons attacks that don't serve the geopolitical interests of the Shining City on a Hill, particularly when a Republican happens to be running things.