Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bigfoot-In-Mouth Disease

Karen Hughes, the regime's International Minister for Propaganda, whiffed again, this time in Indonesia. Her meeting with students in Indonesia turned out to be yet another international embarrassment.

Bush administration envoy Karen Hughes visited Indonesia on Friday as part of her campaign to repair U.S. standing with the world's Muslims and defended the invasion of Iraq by telling skeptical students that deposed president Saddam Hussein had gassed hundreds of thousands of his own people.

Her remark was an impassioned answer to familiar criticisms of U.S. policy raised by her audience at one of Indonesia's leading Islamic universities. But it was also wrong.

State Department officials later acknowledged that Hughes, tapped by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to set the record straight on U.S. policies in the Muslim world, had misreported history.

Although at least 300,000 Iraqis are reported to have died during Hussein's 24 years in office, his government's use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds cost the lives of only a small proportion, most notoriously an estimated 5,000 people who died in a 1988 military campaign in the northern town of Halabja.
[Emphasis added]

Now, I'm sure the Indonesian students will agree that gassing even 5,000 people is a terrible thing to do. Most would also agree that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people. Ms. Hughes had a chance to make her point, if only she had known what that point was. Unfortunately Ms. Hughes is another example of cronyism in the regime, so it is no surpise that she got the facts wrong.

"It's something that our U.S. government has said a number of times in the past. It's information that was used very widely after his attack on the Kurds. I believe it was close to 300,000," Hughes said when questioned the first time. She added, "That's something I said every day in the course of the campaign. That's information that we talked about a great deal in America."

Though a longtime political adviser and confidante of Bush, Hughes is a relative newcomer to international affairs. She was appointed this year to energize the State Department's public affairs efforts and burnish the U.S. image, which has been badly tarnished in the Muslim world by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.
[Emphasis added]

What we have here, folks, is the "Michael-Brown-ing" of the State Department. Unfortunately, it's happening at a time when the US desperately needs some expert international diplomacy to assist us in getting out of the morass of Iraq.

Sadly, no surprise here.


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