Title: The Unasked Questions
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The other evening Connie Chung on
CNN interviewed two Iraqi women
living in the U.S. One hoped for
peace, the other wanted the U.S.
military to unseat Saddam Hussein --
thinking, I suppose, that whoever
takes his place will be a kind,
benevolent statesman (like all the
other kind, benevolent leaders of
The woman who wanted war maintained
that Hussein would never disarm
voluntarily. I waited in vain, as I
so often do, for the interviewer to
ask the obvious question:
"Why should Saddam Hussein disarm,
when no other country is disarming?"
This prompted me to wonder how many
times I've watched an interview and
waited for an obvious question to be
asked -- only to see the interviewer
ignore the obvious and continue with
his scripted questions.
I could think of quite a few
examples. Here are those concerning
Iraq that come to mind now. . . .
Liberating the Iraqis
Assertion: The Iraqi people will be
far better off after we unseat
Question: On what do you base that
expectation? Have you noticed what's
been going on in Afghanistan since
the U.S. government lost interest
and turned its attention to Iraq?
Those Awful Weapons
Assertion: Saddam Hussein has
weapons of mass destruction. You
can't allow such a dictator to have
Question: If that's the case, why
didn't the America threaten Leonid
Brezhnev of the Soviet Union the way
it's threatening Saddam Hussein now?
Dealing with Dictators
Assertion: You can't do business
Question: Then why is George Bush
enlisting the support of dictators
in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar,
Pakistan, and other countries to
make war against Iraq?
Assertion: When the war is over,
Saddam Hussein must be prosecuted
for war crimes.
Question: Since the war hasn't even
started yet, how can he be accused
of war crimes already?
Assertion: Saddam Hussein even tried
to assassinate President Bush's
father. Our national honor demands
that we unseat this evil man.
Question: Are you aware of what
happened when the Austrian
government tried to avenge the
assassination of Archduke Ferdinand
by the Serbs in 1914? The world was
plunged into World War I -- a
holocaust that caused the deaths of
millions of innocent people. How do
you know that won't happen in the
Assertion: President Bush is right,
but he hasn't made his case to the
American people. He needs to make
the evidence against Hussein public.
Question: Since President Bush has
been claiming for over a year to
have evidence that he hasn't
revealed, why are you so sure there
_is_ any evidence?
Trusting the Untrustworthy
Assertion: I trust my President and
Question: After the Gulf War, it
turned out that all the reasons for
going to war had been false -- no
Iraqi troops massed on the Saudi
Arabia border, no babies ripped from
incubators by Iraqi troops in
Kuwaiti hospitals. Most of the same
people who were in charge then are
in the current administration. Why
should we trust them again?
Chemical & Biological Weapons
Assertion: We know Saddam Hussein
used chemical and biological weapons
during the war against Iran.
Question: Then why did the Reagan
administration support him so hole
heartedly in that war?
Proving a Negative
Assertion: We've waited for two
years for Saddam Hussein to come
clean. It's obvious he's not going
to. We should go into Iraq, remove
him, and destroy the weapons.
Question: But suppose he _doesn't_
have such weapons. How can he prove
this when whatever he says is
branded a lie by George Bush? Given
what's happened so far, we can
assume that even if Hussein said, "I
give up; here are my weapons,"
George Bush would claim Hussein is
still lying, is still hiding more
weapons, and must be disarmed by
force. So how can Hussein possibly
satisfy George Bush?
Assertion: We must all make some
sacrifices for security in this
awful War against Terrorism.
Question: What sacrifices are _you_
Whom Should We Trust?
We know that politicians lie.
They've lied to us about Social
Security, about the projected costs
of Medicare, about surpluses that
never existed, about the Gulf War,
about enough matters to fill an
The fact that we're now talking
about national security shouldn't
cause us to have more faith in
government and politicians. Quite
the contrary: _because_ it's our
lives that are at stake, we should
be more skeptical then ever.
Unfortunately, the press -- who
should be asking the skeptical
questions for us -- is little more
than an adjunct of the government,
accepting political pronouncements
That leaves it up to us. We must be
vigilant, assertive in demanding
answers-- and sometimes noisy.