Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Historical Perspectives on President Bush's Ultimatum (Howard Zinn Code Orange Hurl Alert!)
PBS: NewsHour with Jim Lehrer ^ | March 17, 2003

Posted on 03/18/2003 6:30:19 AM PST by Charles Henrickson

JIM LEHRER: President Bush speaking from the White House.

Some perspective now on what the president just said from four historians. From Boston University: Robert Dallek who has written extensively on the American presidency and the history of American foreign policy; and Professor Emeritus Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and The Politics of History, among others. Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Diane Kunz, a diplomatic historian, formally at Yale University. She's the author of Butter and Guns: America's Cold War, Economic Diplomacy.

Making history: the presidential ultimatum

JIM LEHRER: Robert Dallek, has there ever been an ultimatum issued by a president of the United States like the one we just heard?

ROBERT DALLEK: Well, this is unique, I think. I've never quite seen like this before nor as a historian can I remember anything of this sort.

We have had preventive wars before. The Bay of Pigs was an operation the United States endorsed. That was a preventive operation. We were afraid that Castro was going to subvert the hemisphere. We helped topple Mosaddeq in Iran in 1953 but we didn't give out the kind of speeches that Mr. Bush has just given.

It was an effective speech, I thought, but of course it's not going to convert opponents who see lots and lots of questions that are going to come up in future days about this war.

JIM LEHRER: Mr. Mead, just as a matter of history... hello? I'm sorry. Mr. Mead, just as a matter of history -- was some made tonight?

Do you agree with Robert Dallek, a president of the United States looking at the television camera and telling the leader of another country you have 48 hours to get out of there?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: I think it's a new departure. It shows how public diplomacy is changing real diplomacy, that increasingly the business of nations is taking place in public.

So you have the president of the United States making a public ultimatum to a foreign leader. It's a remarkable development.

JIM LEHRER: Howard Zinn, do you agree?

HOWARD ZINN: Oh, I absolutely agree this is unique. And, it's a shameful moment actually in American history, the idea that we are going to attack a nation that is not attacking us, that is not attacking anybody else.

This certainly is a very different moment in our history. And we really ought to think very carefully about how the reputation of the United States is going to be damaged for a very long time to come by what we are now doing.

A shameful moment for the U.S.?

JIM LEHRER: Diane Kunz, do you agree, a shameful moment in U.S. history?

DIANE KUNZ: Not at all. I think this is an evolution that grows out of the September 11 tragedy in America combined with the changing nature of international diplomacy in the post Cold War world.

JIM LEHRER: What about the point that the others were talking about as well -- that a president of the United States looking out and telling a leader of another country, you must leave your own country.

Is that... do you agree with Walter Mead that that's just the way things are right now, that that's how things will be conducted from this point on possibly?

DIANE KUNZ: I think what's interesting to remember is that what President Bush is doing is building on Wilsonian principles. Woodrow Wilson taking the United States into war in 1917 said, "We are going to war, we will expend our blood and treasure in order to safeguard principles."

And, here is President Bush tonight again saying, "We are doing this at least in part for the betterment of the Iraqi people, risking our soldiers' lives to create democracy in a country that has never known it."

JIM LEHRER: So, Robert Dallek, as Diane Kunz is saying, it's not that different actually.

ROBERT DALLEK: I think it's different in that the United States has such extraordinary power. We're going to be able I think in a matter of days to overwhelm the Iraqi military, but what's difficult about all this is people around the world are so antagonistic to us for doing this.

In a sense they've turned Saddam Hussein into something of a hero, and Bush has become a kind of villain in - there are polls around the globe asking people who is the greater threat to peace, Mr. Bush or Saddam Hussein? It's a very disturbing development. So this kind of diplomacy, which has given us in a sense in some ways a black eye, is worrisome.

JIM LEHRER: Whatever you think of what he said in terms of content, do you think he made his argument effectively tonight to the American people; this is why we're doing it, et cetera?

ROBERT DALLEK: Yes. I think he's been making this argument for quite a while. I don't think people who were opposed to the war are going to be converted by what he said.

I think people who support him find confirmation in his language and in his words. And I think we're going to see in this country and around the world an explosion of tension and division over what the United States is doing.

JIM LEHRER: Do you agree with that Walter Mead?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: No, I actually think that in a way just as the stock markets have been going up as it looks like the crisis is going to be resolved quickly that probably we took much more damage in the run-up to war than we'll take in the war itself.

I can't predict the military course of action, but I think the president and many others now feel that further delay just creates more international tension, and the best thing we can do now is to move on and hopefully when the war is over and people see that the president was serious, as I believe he is, about the promises to build a better Iraq and have more freedom and more prosperity for average Iraqis and also as more evidence of the crimes of Saddam Hussein -- the torture chambers and other things the president spoke of -- are found and made public, I think we'll see probably a swing of world opinion back toward the United States.

Did the president make the case for war?

JIM LEHRER: Did you think he made an effective argument for his case tonight, Walter Mead?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Yes, I did. I think there are some ways that the argument could be made more strongly.

For example, I think the closest connection between Saddam Hussein and the events of Sept. 11 is that the cost of containing Saddam Hussein involves keeping US troops in Saudi Arabia. That destabilizes Saudi society. It creates a lot of tension in the Islamic world.

Actually Osama bin Laden formed al-Qaida because he broke with the Saudi government and became disgusted because they were allowing a permanent US force.

If Saddam Hussein had kept his cease-fire agreement or if he had fallen from power in 1991 there wouldn't have been that U.S. presence, there would never have been an al-Qaida. There probably would never have been a Sept. 11. The danger of doing nothing, of allowing sort of the poison to go on was growing, and I think the president could have made a stronger argument that the most peaceful, the safest course, is to act decisively now. But, even so, I think it was a good speech.

JIM LEHRER: Howard Zinn, what did you think of the president's case for war?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, as Robert Dallek says, it's the usual case but the one thing that is missing in so much of the discussion is that we are going to kill a lot of people in this operation. It's all well and good to talk about the promise of a different Iraq, a democratic and free Iraq, a promise which is very dubious considering the history of the United States. It's a history in which it has not been very good at creating democracy, a history in which it has rather supported dictatorships around the world, but we are going to kill -- and think of it this way -- we talk about Saddam Hussein and what he's doing to the people of Iraq -- we are going to kill the victims of Saddam Hussein. The civilians of Baghdad are going to be living under terrorism.

We are concerned about terrorism. War is terrorism. The people of Baghdad are going to be terrorized. Shock and all, we are going to unleash enormous numbers of bombs on the cities and villages of Baghdad. Now we can't... that is certain. What is uncertain is the future. When you face certain horrors in war and uncertainties about the outcome, morally you cannot go along with this war.

And I think that's why most of the world is outraged at what the United States is about to do. They are right. President Bush is right now the greatest danger to world peace. He is also the greatest danger to our young men and women whom he is sending into combat. Those who die, not just those who die in Iraq, but those people in our armed forces who die, they will die because President Bush has grandiose ambitions for American power in the world. They will die because of oil. They will die because of politics. They will die because of the need of the United States government to expand its power. Those are not good reasons for people to die -- there or here.

How will posterity remember this era?

JIM LEHRER: I take it then you disagree with what Walter Mead just said that over time public opinion throughout the world will swing to the Bush position and the American position?

HOWARD ZINN: Nobody knows how public opinion will look. Predicting the future and predicting public opinion, we don't know what is going to happen in the future.

We do know what is going to happen immediately. And what is going to happen immediately is that the United States is going to be really endangering the people of the United States, not just the people of Iraq because even the CIA has said that the threat of terrorism will grow if we go to war.

The United States government, by going to war, is making the American people less safe, is putting us in greatest danger. For Bush to talk about national security doesn't make any sense. He is endangering the security of the United States just as he is endangering the security of the people in Iraq. I might say one more thing. Iraq was a real danger... just one more sentence.

If Iraq was a real danger to the world, then why is it that all the countries around Iraq and why is it that the countries of the rest of the world do not want to go to war? Why is it that the most powerful military country in the world with oceans on both sides is going to war against Iraq? The reasons are not the ones given by President Bush.

JIM LEHRER: We only have a couple minutes left. Let's go to Diane Kunz and see if she would like to answer that question. How would you answer Howard's question?

DIANE KUNZ: Well, the first point I'd like to make is the reason there's going to be a war in Iraq if there will be one will be Saddam Hussein.

It is Saddam Hussein for 12 years who has refused to disarm, who's refused to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. He still has an opportunity to leave. So to say that it is American government's fault that there may be a war in two days or five days or whenever is just ludicrous. Moreover, I think what President Bush -- made the point today and I hope he makes it more clearly is that the preeminent issue for the next 20 years is how many countries will have weapons of mass destruction and how many individuals will be able to get those weapons of mass destruction illegally?

And what President Bush is trying to do, I believe, is to make it very clear that the price for the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons will be extremely high. In this way, he is definitely safeguarding American and world security.

JIM LEHRER: What about Howard Zinn's point though that meanwhile some Iraqis and possibly some Americans are going to die?

DIANE KUNZ: Well, this is impasse to which Saddam Hussein has brought us. When we ask... the slogan "war is not the answer." Well, it depends on the question. And right now, if the United States backs down, we will have sustained, as Winston Churchill said after Munich, defeat without war. That is the worst-case scenario.

JIM LEHRER: Is there any one of you who believes that Saddam Hussein will actually leave in the next 48 hours? Mr. Mead? Mr. Dallek?

ROBERT DALLEK: I'm hoping so.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: No, I don't think there's any chance. But I'd like to say in terms of the killing of civilians that the sanctions regime actually kills one to five thousand civilians -- children under five -- a month which is the number of people who... civilians who died in the Gulf War. The status quo is not peace in Iraq. The status quo is a slow war and civilians are dying. So I think ending the slaughter of civilians is a legitimate goal of the government.

JIM LEHRER: This is a discussion that is only beginning tonight. Thank you all four for joining us. We will continue this on this program and elsewhere in this country and in the world.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: historical; howardzinn; hysterical; invective; jimlehrer; newshour; pbs; perspectives
Last night after the President's speech, the networks ended their coverage, and I was looking for some more analysis and commentary (we don't have cable), so I went over to PBS. Jim Lehrer had on four historians giving their perspectives. I should say, three were giving historical perspectives, one--an old lefty named Howard Zinn--was giving hysterical invective!

It was pretty amazing. The other three were doing what they were supposed to do--provide some level-headed, thoughtful discussion--and here was this Howard Zinn jerk making a speech, basically. He was obnoxious in the extreme. At one point, you could hear the discomfort in Jim Lehrer's voice, and he tried to get Zinn to wrap up his comment so he could move on to the next panelist, but Zinn said, "just one more sentence"--only then he went on for three or four more, before Lehrer could get him to stop.

Here's the link if you want to listen to the segment in RealAudio

1 posted on 03/18/2003 6:30:19 AM PST by Charles Henrickson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
There is no "historian" who can offer prespectives on fighting terrorism.

Their whole primis is wrong.
2 posted on 03/18/2003 6:33:29 AM PST by roses of sharon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
Calling Howard Zinn "an old leftie" is too kind.

He's a Marxist punk. How any man who endorses an ideology that led to 100 million deaths is in any position to pass judgement on morality is beyond me.
3 posted on 03/18/2003 6:35:55 AM PST by Numbers Guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Numbers Guy
What'd you expect from PBS ?
4 posted on 03/18/2003 6:45:31 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
I, like you, stumbled onto the Lehrer newscast after Bush's speech. And, Zinn was just beginning to emit his 30 foot rope of drool.

Well, maybe it was more than 30 feet long. It had reached that length before I couldn't hack it any longer and mashed the mute button half-way into the remote.

5 posted on 03/18/2003 6:47:54 AM PST by Brandybux
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nicollo
Forget the coffee this morning. This will make your blood boil.
6 posted on 03/18/2003 6:50:42 AM PST by lysie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
Actually, I expect a little better from the NewsHour. Usually the panelists Lehrer has on for this kind of a discussion don't engage in such overt speech-making. And as I said, three of the four did "play by the rules."

I wonder if Lehrer is going to have this clown on again.

7 posted on 03/18/2003 6:51:25 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (I don't have cable, unfortunately.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: lysie
Thanks, Lysie! Here's the body of my Zinn thread last night that was immediately pulled for its " "veiled profanity..." Lol!:

Why Howard Zinn is a Daschole (without apologies to either rectum)

Posted by [a furious] nicollo
On News/Activism 03/17/2003 11:19 PM EST

Following the President’s speech tonight Jim Lehrer of PBS hauled out of the socialist mud one Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States.” You might know Zinn from that, or from his desperate and NY Times publicized rants against the UsofA following the 9-11 attacks. Zinn blames it all on the power structures of the US that, by his theory, abuse and deceive the people in the name of capitalism and Bush family investments.

I’ll try not to curse.

I turned off my antenna-bound television. Amazingly, the only other station running commentary on the President’s speech was Petie Jennings and ABC. The rest went back to regular programming. I’ll take this as an expression of the triumph of cable and cable news programs. Nevertheless, the networks and their affiliates ought have the guts to broadcast their news programs across the public airwaves rather than restrict it to cable. That appears to be my problem, not theirs.

As for Zinn, here’s his deal:

Zinn champions “the people.” His “History” discusses the “common man.” Yes, that common man whom Abraham Lincoln decided God loved best since he made so many of them. But the most uncommon Abe makes the index of Zinn’s “History” all of six times (plus in “passim” another four times). Imagine that, a “history” of the United States in which the most important President excepting Washington appears barely. The great Washington shows up all of ten times. By comparison, the socialist Eugene Debs has eight citations, including several of multiple pages. Understand that Zinn considers Debs a traitor to socialism and “the people” as Debs abhorred violence and anarchy, and Zinn felt that Debs sold out to business. In “A People’s History” of the USA, Fidel Castro gets six pages of attention, and his friend, Jimmy Carter gets cited on 20 pages. George H.W. Bush gets a load of citations, and you can imagine why. His sub-categories include “Panama Invasion,” "business and industry,” “factory and mill system,” “foreign investment and markets,” “insurance and compensation,” “monopoly and merger,” and so on. (Amazingly, Ronbo got off easier with only fourteen pages cited.)

That’s plenty enough to know Zinn’s intentions, as Jacques Chirac would say, “n’est-ce pas?”

I know Zinn from my study of the Progressive Era of the first decades of the 20th Century. Here’s why he’s such a clymer:

The people of 1911 whom Zinn championed, blacks, laborers, the city poor, etc. are what today? Folks descended from Zinn’s oppressed are today National Security Advisors, Supreme Court Justices, CEO’s of G.E., AOL-Time Warner and other major corporations, and so on. The majority of their kind are proud and secure members of the middle and upper classes. Had they followed Zinn’s advice of today back in 1911, none of these people would be members of the dominant classes of modern America. Zinn’s vision for 1911, and for all of American history, today included, is privilege for the poor and the working so that they stay that way.

Hear me? Zinn’s solution to the problems of 1911 was that the oppressed of 1911 stay oppressed. He would simply change their oppression, squalor, and dependence from business and social conditions to oppression, squalor, and dependence by the government. I almost pity Zinn, for history has made him its fool. Too bad Jim Lehrer doesn't know it.

The American Founding and its political and social structures that Zinn so hates have freed peoples from oppression and poverty like nothing else in world history. America is about freeing peoples, about bringing happiness and opportunity to them. Those who today live in squalor and oppression do so according to Zinn’s structures and in denial of those of the American Founding that have liberated so many. What Zinn hates of 1911 is exactly what liberated the descendents of 1911.

Zinn says, writes, and does nothing to help those he champions.

Do I hate Zinn?

No. I loathe him.

8 posted on 03/18/2003 7:10:38 AM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
Zinn's We are concerned about terrorism. War is terrorism.

No it is not, Zinn. Terrorism is the slaughter of innocents during undeclared war and by non-State perps. The slaughter of innocents during declared war between nations is called a "war crime."

He calls himself a historian. He's a moron.

9 posted on 03/18/2003 7:16:45 AM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
The book "The Peoples History of the United States" is used as the standard text at the local high school. It is a horrible piece of agit-prop, dripping America-hating and socialist theory on every page. I eventually bought a copy of the excellent "History of the American People" for my daughter, who read and enjoyed it. I have found the public schools an excellent teaching too ... the ridiculous leftist cant is so omnipresent and over the top that it verges on self parody. Kids know when they are being indoctrinated, and resent it. That 'alternate' history book I bought my daughter got passed around to her friends. Who would think a weighty tome called "The History of the American People" would be interesting to them. They also seemed to enjoy "More Guns, Less Crime".
10 posted on 03/18/2003 7:19:45 AM PST by Jack Black
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: lysie; x
Lysie, here's another part to my thread last night:

In my upcoming book, William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency, I documented the hysteria of the progressives and the socialists and how it was counter-productive to the betterment of life for all Americans. There is not an American of success today who owes his or her success to anything Howard Zinn believes. Those who need Zinn need him because they ignore what gives Americans and America success: the God-given rights of man, the rights of property, and the American Constitution.

In Book III, Chapter 9, “Progressively Unhappy & a Happy Discontent,”I nailed this little toad in footnote no. 12 (numbering may change with the final version of the book):

If they wished, Americans of 1911 could look upon their day as the best of times. The country was never more prosperous, and that prosperity had never reached more Americans.(12) Strikes were numerous but comparatively peaceful and contained to local issues and places. While Paris was shuttered by turmoil, labor strife was not part of the American national dialogue. The spell of anarchy that claimed McKinley was left to the foreigners. The riots were in Budapest, not New York. The 1912 elections in Germany foretold the disorder: the Reichstag was split among seven factions, with socialists taking the largest single slice. Even Merrie England was beset by tumult. While suffragettes threw rocks through the P.M.’s windows, George Bernard Shaw declared Jesus a failure. Was the U.S. immune?
Footnote no. 12: Without apologies to the Howard Zinn school of populist history: workers were better off in 1911 than at any time before in American history. And things were getting better. Sanitation, health, salary, working conditions and hours, housing, and recreation were in improvement, and not just as a result of agitation -- or automobiles. Prosperity brought it. On December, 25, 1911, the Times took an amazed look around and found that “Wage-earners as well as holders of securities have reason for joy this Christmas. Not since 1907 have there been better times for the good workman... the cost of living has fallen in proportion that wages will buy more...” Not only that, productivity was such that labor’s “improving condition is not due to greater effort, but the reverse” (editorial, 12/25/11). ...
No thanks to Zinn or his kind, America avoided the socialist calamity. Zinn, get off my television screen.
11 posted on 03/18/2003 7:21:03 AM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: nicollo
oops, bad link on the book.

Should be:
12 posted on 03/18/2003 7:22:53 AM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: nicollo
Zinn's a hard leftist who's vision is permanent victimhood. He deserves pity and no much else.
13 posted on 03/18/2003 7:25:26 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson
As for the text of the president's speech, while saving a copy for my files off the Fox News Website, I noticed their version of the text did not contain the following significant paragraphs:

"Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On November 8, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441 finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations and vowing serious consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm. Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed, and it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power.

"For the last four and a half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that council’s longstanding demands. Yet some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced that they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it.

"Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace. And a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world. The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

I e-mailed them about their error.

14 posted on 03/18/2003 7:26:23 AM PST by glennaro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
I said I almost pity him. I don't. I hate him without pity.

It'd be merely sad but, as noted on this thread, Zinn's idiot book is standard reading material at colleges and, it seems, high schools. Look at your average Barnes & Noble: they'll have multiple copies and spaces taken up by this garbabe on the shelves. It's shameful.
15 posted on 03/18/2003 7:31:28 AM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: nicollo
You are so right! When my son was in 8th grade, his history teacher wanted to use Zinn's book as the major text for their Civil Rights unit. She also planned to teach that Malcolm X was THE major leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's. I strongly objected and, among other things, showed the principal sections of text where Zinn strongly pushed for a socialist revolution in the U. S. Some adjustments were made, but I was, and am, very disturbed at how uninformed most people are about the warped view of history being taght at many, many schools and universities across this country.
16 posted on 03/18/2003 7:46:04 AM PST by coloradomom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Brandybux; nicollo
Thanks for sharing your outrage at Zinn. My wife and I were getting so angry at this guy last night, I had to walk away and my wife went for the mute button.

If Howard Zinn were a wrestler, he would be a great "heel" (bad guy), someone who can draw "heat" (intense negative crowd reaction).

The shame of this was, the other three guests were offering some good and thoughtful comments, but they got overshadowed by this doofus trying to dominate the discussion.

I'll call him a "Zinn Butt-ist."

17 posted on 03/18/2003 8:07:11 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (I e-mailed the NewsHour this morning and complained.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson; austinTparty
If Howard Zinn were a wrestler, he would be a great "heel" (bad guy), someone who can draw "heat" (intense negative crowd reaction).
That's a great way to put it, and maybe that's what Lehrer intended. I really, really hope Jimbo wasn't just showing his skirt.

ATP, thought you'd enjoy these thoughts on another Foucault (bastard) progeny.

18 posted on 03/18/2003 1:48:13 PM PST by nicollo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson