Monday, September 30, 2002
The wackos on the left: Earlier today Instapundit pointed out a critique of America-hating, Taliban-loving Ted Rall and his cartoons in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United States.
The critique, by an apparently left-leaning but honest John Giuffo, is summarized in just one line: "In short, Ted Rall is giving dissent a bad name."
In the past year, Rall has blamed America, the Bush administration, Democrats, and everyone to the right of him on the political spectrum of being responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, world hunger and every hangnail suffered by everyone in the Third World.
To quote Giuffo:
In the ensuing months, his analysis of the war and its combatants has been thoroughly shot through with distortion, exaggeration and lies. He went in convinced that a bombing campaign in Afghanistan would accomplish nothing, and he has since clung to that assumption and rejected any and all evidence to the contrary. He believes American military power cannot be used toward humanitarian ends, period. And he goes to great lengths to maintain faith in that belief.
In short, on the right we have the conspiracy theorists who think that Clinton ordered the murders of more than 40 people, and on the left we have Ted Rall.
Rall's insulting, childish and moronic screed doesn't stop at his syndicated comic strips.
On a related note that Instapundit didn't pick up, Ted Rall also authored a five-part essay over at comicbookgalaxy.com. With a laudatory foreword by comicbookgalaxy's Alan David Doane, Rall puts forward the laughable contention that the 9/11 attacks were used as pretext to help Unocal build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan and the media is helping to cover it up.
Since 9-11 print and broadcast media in the United States have disseminated the Bush Administration line without question. On no subject has that been truer than on plans to run a pipeline across Afghanistan. Yet the role of energy resources in the U.S. "war on terror" has been anything but unreported. In Europe, mainstream media outlets like Reuters and the BBC have reported extensively on the subject. Wire services have distributed hard news about U.S.-led meetings, bank funding and related issues to every American newspaper, radio and television station in the United States.
American media has uniformly chosen to ignore these wire dispatches. Perhaps editors feel that their readers and viewers aren't ready to hear unpleasant truths about their government's actions in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. Perhaps they hope that other media--some other media, somewhere--will begin the coverage that would allow them to pick up the ball. Whatever the reason for the silence of the American media, it has contributed to the sense that those who mention oil, natural gas and Afghanistan in the same breath are "conspiracy theorists" on the political fringe.
Rall becomes a mental contortionist to ignore is 3,000 dead Americans. Besides, did it ever occur to Rall that the reason these claims haven't been picked up by the American media is because the media here looks for evidence, corroboration and facts before publishing this kind of libel. In short, the mainstream media is oftentimes responsible. Why is a comics site the only place to publish Rall's essay? Because it wouldn't pass fact-checking at any mainstream Web site, magazine or newspaper.
Historically, it's no secret that war almost always goes hand in hand with economic motives, and economic incentives for American involvement often involves control of fossil fuels. U.S. intervention in Somalia, for instance, had less to do with feeding hungry Africans than controlling the strategic Gulf of Aden, through which oil tankers pass from the Indian Ocean en route to the Suez Canal via the Red Sea. While the Vietnam conflict is popularly believed to have stemmed from the Cold War-era "domino theory" obsession among U.S. officials, energy company interest in South Vietnamese natural gas reserves played at least as vital a role in American military intervention as anti-Communist ideology. And few doubt a relationship between the importance of Venezuela as the biggest producer of oil in the Western hemisphere and a botched Bush Administration coup attempt against its democratically-elected president, Hugo Chàvez. Given the enormous energy resources at stake in Central Asia, these cynics suggested, there was much more to American adventurism in Afghanistan than immediately met the eye.
Rall is of the obvious opinion that Republicans are heartless bastards, so this makes perfect sense.
But not really.
American involvement in Somalia was not a humanitarian exercise, it was to control the Gulf of Aden, according to Rall. What Rall doesn't realize is that we didn't have to go into Somalia to secure the Gulf of Aden. Somalis may have tons of AK-47s, but they don't have huge 16-inch guns or anti-ship missiles or submarines -- nothing of any danger to shipping. One guided-missile cruiser would be enough to secure shipping from any dangers posed by Somalia. Besides, if Somalia was key to securing shipping through the area, why did we leave after the Black Hawk Down disaster?
There's plenty in Rall's essay to dissect, and if any blogger is looking for something to dissect, Rall's essay certainly provides plenty of fodder. On a Comics Journal messageboard, Rall spent some time defending his work, but has since gone to ground as his work has been criticized by more conservative elements. That is anyone to the right Al Gore.
It might seem impossible to believe, but Rall's messageboard posts are even more outrageous than the claims made in his essay.
The people of Afghanistan don't speak as one voice. Certainly some people are pleased--the bandits, robbers and rapists are having a field day. The Taliban were despicable, but the Northern Alliance turned out to be nothing more than the Taliban minus law and order--same stonings, burqas, women unable to go to school (due to lack of money since it was never against the law). Anyone who thinks Afghans are better off since the bombing campaign--with its countless deaths, carpet-bombing and massive increase in refugees--is a self-deluded fool. If Afghanistan is ever rebuilt, it will be despite, not because of, the U.S.
See, in Rall's world the United States chose "bandits, robbers and rapists" over the Taliban. Afghanis were better off with the Taliban according to Rall.
Rall also lies when he says that the Taliban allowed women to go to school. He might as well have claimed that the sky is green.
Originally posted by Bill Hicks:
You're telling me that the photographs of people dancing in the streets, women returning to work burqa-free, and the resumption of soccer matches were all fabricated?
Ted Rall's response:
Just like most of the war coverage, yes. For instance, the Northern Alliance charged $500 per artillery shell firing so that cameras would have something to show on the air each night--never mind that they were firing in empty fields. Women in Kabul are 99.999999% burquaed; outside of Kabul it's 100%. Yes, soccer has resumed. If soccer is liberation, all hail liberated Afghanistan under former Taliban Hamid Karzai!
Women all still wearing the face-covering burqas? There's ample evidence this is a lie. Here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here...
Maybe Rall doesn't know the difference between a burqa and a headscarf.
I'm not sure what to call Ted Rall.
A nut-case? Certainly.
Irrelevant? Insofar as very few non-French take his opinion seriously, yes.