The Moment of Truth — March 22, 2003

Better Than Henry: An Interview With Chic Hidgeonpooper

Chuck:
Jeff Dorchen has brought a guest with him for today’s moment of truth. Who’d you bring?

Jeff:
That’s right, Chuck. Today we have with us a well-known journalist who recently quit the Nation magazine, where he’d written a semi-weekly commentary for a long time, to work for the Brookings Institution.

Chuck:
I assume you’re talking about Christopher Hitchens. We’ve had him on the show before.

Jeff:
No, Chuck. My guest is Chic Hidgeonpooper. He’s similar to Hitchens, but he’s not Christopher Hitchens.

Chuck:
Oh.

Jeff:
He’s Chic Hidgeonpooper.

Chuck:
Okay. Well, welcome, uh… Chic.

Chic:
Well, thank you very much, it’s good to be here.

Chuck:
So, you’re going to be rebutting one of Jeff’s twenty-one provocations. Which one?

Chic:
I’m going to discuss the one about the puzzles and occupying Iraq. Provocation number 6.

Chuck:
And Jeff, could you remind us ≠

Jeff:
Yeah, it went like this: “There’s been a lot of discussion about how best to occupy Iraq after the war. It’s been noted that about 50% of the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. I’ll tell you how to occupy them: puzzles. Kids LOVE puzzles! That’ll keep them occupied.”

Chuck:
That seems pretty straightforward to me. Chic Hidgeonpooper, what exactly do you object to about that statement?

Chic:
Well, first of all, let me just say that there is a statement I keep getting taunted about, about my having said some time ago that Donald Rumsfeld is the antichrist, and this should be laid to rest if I point out that I never said that. What I said was, “Donald Rumsfeld is the anti-kissinger.” And what I meant by that was precisely this: Donald Rumsfeld is a very wise man. He’s a good man who believes in promoting the freedom and dignity of all human beings. Whereas Iraq is clearly not Vietnam, Donald Rumsfeld is not Henry Kissinger, and what I mean by that is precisely this: the Bush Administration is a trustworthy entity. They dropped 35,000 pouches of food on Afghanistan that only inadvertently happened to resemble the little pouches disbursed by cluster bombs, the ones that lie about like landmines waiting to blow a child’s leg off. And in spite of the fact that similar anti-personnel booby-traps were a scourge of Vietnamese civilians as well, it’s a superficial similarity. Basically, Iraq has no jungles, no rice paddies, and no prostitutes I would ever want to sleep with. This Bush Administration did not, unlike the Nixon Administration, attempt to subvert the Constitution in order to win an election. That subversion was accomplished for the Bush Administration by the Supreme Court. There’s a vast difference. It’s certainly not a question to me that the players in the Bush camp are all morally competent, and eminently so, to make the choice to abrogate international law in order to kill on a large scale.

And let me point out that I do not subscribe to what some would call a lesser of two evils analysis of the Iraqi situation. Such an analysis suffers from a moral paucity that sets one’s teeth on edge. No, in my opinion, on a scale of one-to-ten, ten being the most evil, one the least, Saddam Hussein is clearly a 9, Henry Kissinger is a 9, and the Bush Administration taken collectively, even leaving aside the saintliness of Donald Rumsfeld and, I might add, that of Paul Wolfowitz, I think it’s safe to say that the evil of the Bush Administration comes in at about a four and a half, which is substantially lower than average for the typical unconstitutionally appointed leadership of a nation that permits federally sanctioned executions and offers its citizens no health care plan.

Chuck:
Hmm. Well, I guess I don’t see how that deals with the puzzles.

Chic:
The puzzles are a rhetorical device, Chuck, that typifies the moral logic of most — and I say most, not all — and I use the word “logic” advisedly — of the rhetoricians in the anti-war camp. The implication being that, simply because we’ve devastated a country to the point where it is cluttered with millions of orphaned children, that is somehow an argument against massacring them. Which is patently absurd on its face. The fact is, the no-fly zone in the north did in fact improve the lives of the Kurdish population of Iraq, and if a few Iraqi civilians take some shrapnel during bombing practice by the US and British patrols, that’s certainly all the greater consolation for the Kurds. But to the left, that cannot be true, can it? That the United States military actually acted in a Christlike, selfless manner, purely to protect the Kurds in the north and the Shi’ia in the south and for no other reason that might call into question the morality of the endeavor? That just can’t be right. And yet it is. Which is why I support the launching of one phalanx of attack from bases in Turkey, a country where the Kurds are respected and given presents and chocolate. On a scale of one to ten, I would say that Kurds who live in Iraq, which is our enemy, are happier even than Kurds who live in Turkey, which is our ally. So much so that many Kurds in friendly Turkey may want to consider fleeing to evil Iraq just to bask in the incrementally greater happiness. Which I’ll admit is a bit odd.

Chuck:
Some sources have said that the Kurds in Northern Iraq are afraid the war will jeopardize the gains they’ve made under British and American air protection.

Chic:
Well, that’s just it, you see. Chuck, the fact is that, while the Kurds in Iraq are most certainly victims of the regime under which they’ve endured, the Kurds in Turkey are terrorists. And I’m sure that the policy of the Bush Administration and the Pentagon will be that, rather than cause the hectored, victimized Kurds of Iraq any more suffering, the no-fly zone will as soon as possible be ceded to Turkish control. Living under Turkish rule will mean that those Kurds in the former no-fly zone will then be classifiable as terrorists. So any loss of well-being or increase of repression they incur will be justified. After all, this is, in the end, a war against terrorism.

But how can this be? It simply can’t be true, can it? But it is. Because truly moral foreign policy is always a paradox, and that’s what’s really attractive to me: the risk involved in breaking international law to bomb a devastated nation until its heartless ruler grows a heart, cries tears of sorrow for his people, and surrenders his look-alikes to a coalition of the United States, several Czech Republicans and the Iberian Peninsula.

Chuck:
So, the fact that millions of people around the world are pleading for peace, that doesn’t sway you?

Chic:
I don’t see why it should. The morality of a principle doesn’t derive from who does or doesn’t subscribe to it, or the number of people who subscribe to it. It’s enough for me that Donald Rumseld and Paul Wolfowitz subscribe to it, because they are each worth ten million anti-war protestors, if not more. I myself would sacrifice a million Iraqi orphans just to masturbate in Wolfowitz’s shadow.

Chuck:
Do you have any doubts or qualms about the aftermath of the war?

Chic:
Of course I do, Chuck. I’d have to be blind not to. My main concern is, when interim postwar military governor General Tommy Franks is privatizing the Iraqi water supply, that he doesn’t give it to Henry Kissinger.

Chuck:
Last question: what about Israel?

Chic:
Well, of course that’s relevant. But as someone who has continually fought to remain uncircumcised, especially against Noam Chomsky — who just this past February made a fourth attempt to abscond with my foreskin — I must say that I find Jews in no small measure repulsive in any case. And the French are just Jews who eat pork and don’t wear hats, as far as I’m concerned. Same with the Pope, except, of course, that he wears a hat. A rather large one.

Chuck:
Jeff, do you have a comeback of any kind?

Jeff:
All I have to say is, I think it’s apparent that Chic Hidgeonpooper has taken his ostensible objectivity to the point where he’s completely lost moral coherence. Distrust of the Bush Administration is justifiable, even though their goals may appear to be worthy ones. I don’t think anyone will ever regret distrusting this administration. They could’ve done a better job diplomatically, but they didn’t care to. They could’ve removed concerns about conflicts of interest, but instead they’re going to enrich companies they’re cozy with, like Halliburton. They could have chosen to go after Enron, but they didn’t, and that calls into question their commitment to any kind of justice where oil and other corporate concerns they’re enmeshed in are involved. If what they wanted to do was to fight for the good of the world, or even the nation, or A nation, they could have done it without the unsavory aspects. If their intentions are good, why do they have to behave like such crooked creeps? I couldn’t in the end even support their overthrow of the Taliban, because it was so much more in the interest of a morally bankrupt government that’s now well down the slippery slope of throwing its weight around the world than it was for the Afghan people or even for the safety of us in the US. The Bush Administration’s methods are bullying and their intentions in so many of their other activities of governance are so baldly criminal, I don’t see how any moral person can give them anything but half-hearted support at best.

Chuck:
Is that it?

Jeff:
Well, I think it would be irresponsible of me not to point out that Chic Hidgeonpooper is a pompous, drunk reactionary.

Chuck:
Well, thank you both.

Chic:
My pleasure.

Jeff:
Thank you, Chuck. I’m Jeff Dorchen, and this has been another Moment of Truth.