BACKGROUND: Our first war with Iraq was August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991 while George Bush "senior" (father of George Bush "junior") was President. That war was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The Santa Cruz Comic News published an essay arguing Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was actually caused by U.S. policy. Much of the documentation in that essay was false. Jerry Simpson wrote a letter to the Santa Cruz Comic News pointing out the bogus documentation in their essay. The Santa Cruz Comic News published Jerry's letter along with a pathetic rebuttal to Jerry's letter. Jerry then wrote a second letter, pointing out the errors in their rebuttal. They refused to publish this second letter, which follows here.
Santa Cruz Comic News:
I am not satisfied with your issue #156 rebuttal concerning faulty documentation in the January 1991 Comic News, about the Gulf crisis. Your rebuttal suggests that I probably "uncritically accept the explanations of events offered by our government." I'll have you know that before many of the staff of the Comic News were even born, I was writing leaflets and organizing protests to stop the war against Vietnam in 1963, 1964, 1965. You can check my credentials (essay) in the June 24, 1966 issue of New Left Notes, which was the national newspaper of S.D.S. (the main radical organization of the 60s). So don't assume people are right-wingers just because they question your views and your sloppy documentation.
I have examined the (corrected) citation of the Oct. 21 London Observer. Some of the article makes an interesting case for your theory that George Bush [Senior] conspired to encourage Iraq's aggressive policy towards Kuwait; however, many of the items in the article refer to mysterious, unnamed sources which cannot be verified. Another problem with the article is that it uses what I call "political language" which I'll discuss later in this letter.
Your rebuttal to my letter in the Comic News #156 lists five new sources for "evidence of our collusion with Kuwait" to put Kuwait and Iraq into a confrontation. I have examined all five.
The only "evidence" in two of them (Wall Street Journal 7-18-90 and Time 8-6-90) consists of statements by Saddam Hussein. The evidence in two others (The Nation 8-27-90/9-3-90) consists of opinions that Kuwait was being "controlled" by the U.S. For example: "Kuwait [was] forced by the U.S. to oversupply oil at relatively cheap prices." Another example: "The feudal sheikdoms' economies are run by foreigners who have no loyalty to the rulers of the countries in which they work." In other words, if Kuwwait decided to make lots of money by selling as much oil as possible, you and your sources say they didn't really decide to do that; they were "forced." Your fifth source (The New Yorker 1-7-91) elaborates on views held by Jordan's King Hussein and his brother Crown Prince Hasan; this article provides a somewhat reasonable case for your conspiracy theory, albeit speculative.
So what am I to make of your rebuttal? Of the five new sources, only one presents an interesting argument, but the other four sources present no real evidence at all. That's four wrong out of five.
Certainly our government lies to its citizens, as your essayist suggests, but so do all governments; this does not prove your theory. Certainly our government has at times slaughtered many thousands of people unjustly, as in Vietnam. But any number of governments have slaughtered thousands of people unjustly; and still this does not excuse misleading documentation about these events.
There is something else of importance here, besides the question of documentation: there is the problem of what I call "political language." Political language is not designed to clarify a problem. Rather, political language means something other than what it seems to mean, in order to accomplish some task. Your essayist's description of Kuwait's oil strategy is an example. Kuwait had been selling oil in volumes which your sources say were "excessive." Worse yet, the Kuwaitis took their oil income and wisely bought assets in other countries all over the world, so much so that eventually Kuwait's income from these assets surpassed their income from oil, even before the crisis. By contrast, Saddam Hussein took his many billions of oil income and squandered it on armaments, even after the end of his war with Iran (which, not-so-incidentally, he started). At some point, Saddam Hussein discovered he was short of bread, in every sense. So what did he do?--he blamed Kuwait. He resorted to political language by saying his lack of funds to feed his people was the result of a conspiracy by Kuwait and the U.S, while in fact it was a result of his own maniacal waste of money on a huge military.
Kuwait's "overproduction" of oil wasn't the real problem, except in the political language of Saddam Hussein and the Comic News. The Kuwaitis were simply selling as much of their commodity as they could on the world market,which is a reasonable activity regardless of whether or not it pleased OPEC and Saddam Hussein. No one held a gun to Saddam Hussein's head and said "Waste all your money on arms and then annex Kuwait."
I am not ruling out the possibility that your essayist's theory may someday be vindicated. And certainly it is important that there be alternative media such as the Comic News. But just because something is called "alternative" doesn't make it correct.
Jerry Simpson (March 3, 1991)
The Santa Cruz Comic News also refused to print the following letter:
Santa Cruz Comic News:
I was disappointed that you suppressed my second letter, but I am not surprised: Santa Cruz is full of people who will use their Left ideology to excuse their own unethical behavior. The logic goes something like this: "George Bush is a jerk and I am opposed to George Bush, therefore my methods are justified." Just because President Bush is a professional liar (i.e. gets paid for it) doesn't mean you tell the truth. Sure, the mainstream media lies, but so does the alternative media-- and I am fed up with both sides.
This dispute began with Mark Zepezauer's essay in the Comic News ("How This Started"), wherein he offered proof the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was caused by a conspiracy of President Bush and big oil and the military. I examined his sources, which were flawed. You published my first Letter-To-The-Editor about this sloppy documentation, along with Mark's rebuttal in issue #156 of the Comic News. But the documentation and logic in the rebuttal was as bad as in the original essay. So I wrote you a second letter, which you suppressed.
As noted in my second letter, four of the five new items of documentation also provided no evidence supporting the conspiracy theory. And especially this is true with two of those four flawed items. Specifically the Wall Street Journal (July 18, 1990) and Time Magazine (August 6, 1990) provide no evidence whatsoever of U.S. collusion with Kuwait to create a war with Iraq, as suggested in the Comic News. So citing the prestigious Time Magazine and the conservative Wall Street Journal as "evidence" is as close as it gets to lying without actually, technically, lying. Even if Mark's conspiracy theory were true (which it isn't), citing those two sources misleads the reader. The only thing proven here is that your essayist is not a reliable source of information.
If, as you suggest, George Bush [Senior] acted against Iraq in order to make money for oil companies and for himself (as a major oil company shareholder), then he could have accomplished that goal by supporting Iraq's annexation of Kuwait: Saddam Hussein's policies would have guaranteed sky-high oil prices on the world market immediately and for a very long time, thus enriching George Bush. So that logic is backwards.
You suggest in the Comic News that President Bush engaged in cover-ups, which is certainly true. But you also engaged in cover-up by suppressing my 3-3-91 letter which exposes that misleading documentation and demolishes those arguments. In the Comic News you suggest we need more public controversy and critical thinking. But by suppressing my letter, you yourself have suppressed public controversy. After all, for there to be public controversy, that controversy must take place somewhere in public; but you won't let it take place in your publication. You complain that the mainstream media is subservient to their advertisers and subscribers, but apparently you follow the same financial motive yourself, hence suppress my carefully researched letter (which demonstrated your publication is not reliable) in order to keep the money flowing in.
And yes, in response to recent inquiry, I received your essayist's various 'personal' replies to my suppressed letter. But I am not interested in a personal private dialogue hidden away from public scrutiny, as you seem to be. I perhaps was hoping our dispute would become a more general, on-going, substantive dialogue on the Left, out in the open.
A dialogue on Iraq would certainly be more interesting than some of your hastily written essays and center-fold inserts and filler material. Clearly you have space available for pablum, so you could easily find space for an issue concerning the deaths of thousands of people.
As you know, 99 percent of your readers will not go to the library and research your documentation to determine whether you are lying. So if you are really worried about ethics in the media, worry about your own.
Jerry Simpson (January 1, 1993)
Protest the Comic News cover-up by sending this to: Comic News, P.O. Box 8543, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
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