Skip to comments.Tariq Aziz Too Soft on Israel for Helen Thomas
Posted on 04/29/2003 5:01:36 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
Tariq Aziz too much of a squish for Helen Thomas? Apparently so. Back in 1984 when Thomas was still UPI's White House reporter, at a party in Washington, DC she asked Iraq's then Foreign Minister, "Why didn't you retaliate" against Israel "when [it] destroyed your nuclear reactor?" When Aziz "tried to brush away the question," Jerusalem Post reporter Barry Rubin recalled, "Thomas did not find the response acceptable, 'Just yellow, I guess,' she complained."
OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" column ( http://www.Opinionjournal.com/best) on Monday by James Taranto highlighted Rubin's recollection as published in an April 26 article. An excerpt from Rubin's piece, "My dinner with Tariq Aziz."
The surrender of former Iraqi foreign and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz to US forces took me back almost 20 years to my own meeting with the man, who for decades was Iraq's main representative to the world.
On a warm night in November 1984, I walked up the path of a luxurious house in northwest Washington that served as the Iraqi ambassador's mansion. That very day, the two countries had announced the resumption of diplomatic relations and the Iraqi flag flew outside for the first time in many years. The charming, worldly ambassador, Nizar Hamdoun, had invited a small group to dinner to meet then foreign minister Aziz. It was a time when many in Washington wanted to ingratiate themselves with that government. Robert Hunter, later president Bill Clinton's ambassador to NATO, shocked me when he told Hamdoun to beware of me because I had written articles critical of Iraq.
Aziz's strong resemblance to the late British actor Peter Sellers softened his menacing presence as representative of a gangster regime. He had an engaging way with his Cuban cigars and fondness for Johnny Walker black label scotch of hinting at cosmopolitan proclivities and implying that he was more civilized than the tough guys who were his colleagues. Aziz had also perfected one of the great diplomatic skills: he could lie persuasively "Oh, no," he said, "Iraq has never used chemical weapons" while his eyes conveyed a world-weary, sophisticated regret at uttering such falsehoods.
Aziz was visiting Washington to secure more US help in Iraq's war with Iran. Significantly, the main course included a garnish of bacon and a generous supply of fine wine, a culinary gesture of militant secularism, since both violated Islamic law. Aziz made a strong pitch for the United States to support Iraq in the Gulf.
At that point, though, Helen Thomas of UPI interrupted him, "Why didn't you retaliate" against Israel, she asked, "when [it] destroyed your nuclear reactor?" The foreign minister tried to brush away the question. Thomas did not find the response acceptable, "Just yellow, I guess," she complained.
Hamdoun looked uncomfortable. Insulting the foreign minister might have been a capital offense in Baghdad.
But Aziz soldiered on. He was just explaining why the Iran-Iraq war was the most important issue in the Middle East when Rowland Evans, co-author of the famous Evans & Novak column, interrupted him. "You must not talk like that!" he lectured the startled Iraqi foreign minister. Evans instructed Aziz to tell the US government that the Arab-Israeli conflict was the Middle East's central issue and that the lack of peace was all Israel's fault.
Unaccustomed to being attacked for excessive softness on Israel, Aziz looked astonished....
For Rubin's piece in full:
I'm thinking more "Larry" from "Bewitched".
It depends on the definition of journalist. I believe that it is now considered appropriate for a journalist to do the following:
1) Assist foreign leaders in destroying America's friends.
2) Reveal the location of American troops within a war zone (and where they will be in a few hours).
3) Remain silent when observing American troops approaching an ambush (this one is a point of contention -- older journalists like Peter Jennings adhere to this, but younger, embedded journalists, tend to disregard this one).
I guess we now know why Novak and Evans are able to work so effectively together.
During my recent adventure in Afghanistan, one of our teams was force-fed two embeds (a writer and a photographer) that accompanied them on a mounted patrol from Herat (IIRC) to Chagcharan, across some of the most God-forsaken terrain on Earth. No one knew what was out there and the only way to know the ground truth was to send Americans there.
The team was not thrilled to get these two guys, who came from the very liberal LA Times. Over the course of several weeks, though, damned if the mostly-Southern SF guys and the LA newsmen didn't, well, bond. The story wound up being a Page 1 story, on about December 28 or 29, and the photographs were, well, way better than the ones we shoot ourselves. The photographer burned all his digital photos on to CDs for the team, which he sure didn't have to do, and gave a copy to the unit's ops officer (I was there when he did it). The story told a lot of good stuff but the reporter was perfectly scrupulous about operational security and nothing that could have harmed the men, their families, or our ongoing operations, was printed. (For instance these reporters knew lots of personal details about the operators they were with, but printed only first names, military ranks, and very general homes: "Sergeant First Class Mike from southern Georgia...")
The newsmen brought their own stuff, and lived rough with the team, sleeping on the ground, eating MREs and local food (when offered), and attending to the call of nature by slipping behind some rocks with a shovel and a roll of TP in hand. When a HMMWV rolled over, imjuring one of the guys, they helped out. They never complained.
We had dreaded having the reporter with our guys, but after this some of our teams actually asked for them (with Iraq heating up, there weren't many interested in going with our teams into harm's way). Unfortunately the experiment won't be repeated because General McNeill has ordered that in the future anyone talking to reporters must provide full name, age, hometown, etc. and special ops people have lost their expectation of anonymity. Since we already had wives getting crank calls from antiwar zealots, a situation about which McNeill cared not a jot, we clammed up completely with the press after that.
It's a pity because our guys over there are doing great work, and the public deserves to know about it, and the one time we put a couple of left-liberal reporters with a gang of very conservative soldiers, they came away with considerable mutual respect.
Ah well, I think half our guys kept diaries... the books are just a matter of time.
Criminal Number 18F
So Helen Thomas is not anti war, she is just anti war when the US government has a Republican president.
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