AS WRONG CAN BE:
SENATOR JON KYL ON IRAQ
by David L. Winkler
Veterans for Peace
Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who has become a leading
voice for conservatives in the upper chamber, also criticized those
who would delay a vote on a congressional resolution [on the Iraq
war]. "This has to happen now. We can walk and chew gum at
the same time."
Kyl says he called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to
suggest that the president send a letter to Congress formally requesting
a vote... the president will demand a congressional vote before
Congress leaves town in early October.
9/23/02 Stephen Hayes, "Democrats in a box," Weekly Standard
When will Senator Jon Kyl be held accountable for his role in promoting
a war of aggression on Iraq? For his political maneuvering, fearmongering,
peddling of falsehoods, shameless propagandizing, and his base attacks
on honest Americans who told the truth about this corrupt and malevolent
With few exceptions, news media seem more interested in lauding
and cultivating access to the powerful Senator than in examining
just how consistently and disastrously wrong Kyl has been on the
greatest foreign policy blunder in a generation. TIME Magazine just
designated Kyl, nicknamed "The Operator," as one of America's
10 Best Senators, because of his talent for "subterfuge."
Local talk show hosts fawn over him; the Arizona Republic opened
its Op-Ed page for his judicial diary; the Republic and the East
Valley Tribune have felled more than a few tall trees printing his
incessant opinion columns.
Even Phoenix New Times took a pass on the Iraq record of Arizona's
most powerful chickenhawk, in a deeply respectful profile by Robert
Nelson ("Stealth Zealot," 4/13/06). Of course, New Times
has other priorities these days, as the not-so-alternative media
monopoly tries to digest the prestigious Village Voice and convert
it into something found on the bottom of a birdcage. (For a detailed
look at the tragedy of the Village Voice, see the April 13, 2006
edition of Democracy Now! at http://www.democracynow.org/)
What appears below is a sampling of Kyl quotes from the buildup
to the war on Iraq to the present, to document how he misled his
constituents before the war, and continues to do so now. These quotes
have been compiled from print sources: news articles about him,
his many Op-Ed columns, and transcripts of television appearances.
Sources are referenced for anyone who wishes to verify them. The
commentary and views expressed are my own, and not necessarily those
of the peace organizations with which I am affiliated. (The report
has been sent to Kyl's office for comment; none has been received
as of this writing.)
Some questions occurred as I reviewed this material. Kyl started
out as a Barry Goldwater conservative. Yet he has thrown his lot
in with the neoconservatives, those big government, budget-busting
idealogues, called neoconservatives because unlike Kyl and Goldwater,
many of them started out as leftists. Kyl even supported Bush's
Medicare drug plan, whose design is worthy of Rube Goldberg, a plan
that benefits giant pharmaceutical companies more than senior citizens,
which may suggest who Kyl's real constituents are.
Barry Goldwater was well known for speaking his mind, and was not
afraid to voice disagreement with those in his own party. Goldwater
also moderated his views with time. Yet with few exceptions, Kyl
slavishly follows the Bush agenda.
How strange to see those two together. Bush is a rather ignorant
fellow despite his ivied degrees, deeply inferior to Kyl in intellect
and embarrassingly inarticulate. Kyl is extremely bright, well educated
in his fields, and a masterful debater. People who know Kyl say
he's a very decent man. Bush is self-centered and vindictive, and
relies on Karl Rove to scheme his way to power.
Looking over his many opinion columns, one is struck by the lengths
Kyl goes to praise President Bush, comparing him favorably (and
laughably) with Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, even the brilliant
Abraham Lincoln. Whereas many in his own party are openly questioning
Bush's policies, and even J.D. Hayworth refuses to have Bush campaign
for him, Kyl remains faithful. Kyl even lets Vice President Cheney,
whose approval rating is lower than whale droppings, campaign for
him. Why? What's in it for Kyl?
Reviewing his many public statements, I also am left wondering whether
Jon Kyl actually believes his own propaganda. Just as truth is the
first casualty of war, it may be that the first casualties of propaganda
are the propagandists themselves. To quote Seinfeld's George Constanza:
"It's not a lie, if you believe it."
JON KYL ON IRAQ: REPRESENTATIVE STATEMENTS FROM 2002 - 2006
intensive and continuing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction
-- chemical, biological, and nuclear -- are well-known." Kyl,
5/24/02, "The Sponsors of Terror"
Hussein is moving rapidly to obtain a nuclear capability that would
augment his existing biological and chemical weapons arsenal. We
are in a race to the finish line with a brutal dictator..."
Kyl, press release, 9/9/02
we've had regular reports from the intelligence community about
the status of Saddam Hussein's activities, including the possession
of weapons of mass destruction in the chemical and biological sphere,
as well as some means of delivering those weapons, and his attempts
to develop nuclear weaponry... And we're pretty well informed about
what he's got." 9/12/02, Kyl, CNN's Connie Chung Tonight
cannot be that Iraq is suddenly out of the weapons of mass destruction
business. Quite the contrary: he is actively trying to acquire nuclear
weaponry." Kyl, "The danger of empty threats," 9/30/02.
critics "with the terrorists"
message, in short, should be exactly what President Bush said in
his address to Congress after the 9/11 attacks: 'Every nation, in
every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us,
or you are with the terrorists.'" Kyl, 5/24/02, "The Sponsors
enemies are emboldened with every shrill attack on the President..."
Kyl, 12/4/04, "Why We Fight"
loves Big Brother!
if you don't, you're aiding the terrorists! Kyl: If the US takes
another terror hit, "opponents of security tools such as the
Patriot Act and NSA surveillance will have to answer for their opposition."
1/19/06 Arizona Republic
it simple, stupid.
President's critics are correct in acknowledging an element of "simplicity"
in this new policy. It is the simplicity of recognizing the existence
of good and evil, and taking steps to see that the latter is defeated."
Kyl, 5/24/02, "The Sponsors of Terror"
We don't need no stinkin' pretext!
have attempted to draw a nexus between Iraq and the September 11
plotters. Making such a connection would be interesting, but not
essential. The obvious threat Saddam poses to the world negates
the need for a pretext to act against him." Kyl, 6/21/02 "The
Case Against Iraq"
call them wars of aggression.
a world where terrorist groups and hostile regimes are racing to
acquire weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, radiological,
and nuclear - America often may have no other option than to act
preemptively." Kyl, 6/21/02 "The Case Against Iraq"
help the Arabs.
will "serve as a model for the rest of the Arab world, and
stand as a testament to the West's commitment to a better life for
the Arab people." Kyl, 7/26/02, "The Case for Democracy"
afraid. Be very afraid.
are relaunching today the Committee on the Present Danger, a group
of citizens... who will work to... support the war on terrorism
in Iraq and beyond... In this war our enemies do not distinguish
between Republicans and Democrats. All Americans are the targets
of their hate, because all Americans share the values they detest..."
7/20/04, Jon Kyl & Joe Lieberman, "The Present Danger."
experts believe that Saddam needs only a few more months to build
a nuclear weapon..." Kyl, 9/20/02, "Saddam's Deceit"
1991, Iraq has agreed at least five times to accept unconditional
inspections -- and then proceeded to derail them. U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, who proudly announced this latest deal with Iraq last
week, brokered a similar agreement in 1998 - not long before Iraq
ejected inspectors altogether." Kyl, 9/20/02, Saddam's Deceit
UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter: "Nothing could be further
from the truth. The Iraqis did not kick the inspectors out in December
1998. The Americans ordered the inspectors out, and then bombed
Iraq using intelligence information gathered by the inspectors to
target Saddam Hussein and his security apparatus." LA Weekly,
"No Threat," 9/18/02
Chung: "Isn't it quite a political coincidence that he's bringing
up war with Iraq very carefully, as Senator Graham said, before
Congress, before the international community, now in September?
It could have been done in August. But it just happens to seem to
be closer to the election in November." Kyl: "That's ridiculous,
with all due respect." 9/12/02, CNN Connie Chung Tonight.
Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who has become a leading voice for
conservatives in the upper chamber, also criticized those who would
delay a vote on a congressional resolution. 'Liberals are now saying
this is a multi-stage process. First, the U.N. speech; second, the
U.N. debate; third, a U.N. resolution; and only then can we take
this up," he says. 'They want to slice and dice it. This has
to happen now. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.' Kyl says
he called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to suggest
that the president send a letter to Congress formally requesting
a vote... [T]he president will demand a congressional vote before
Congress leaves town in early October." 9/23/02 Stephen Hayes,
"Democrats in a box," Weekly Standard
of Malcolm X.
was a co-sponsor of the resolution that eventually passed the Senate
that year . It authorized the President 'to take all necessary
and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq's
refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs'... Many
Americans faced with these sharp changes in views might wonder what
has taken place in the last four years to justify ignoring what
was adopted as official U.S. policy in 1998: regime change in Iraq
by any means necessary." Kyl, "The danger of empty threats,"
lacking Common Sense.
world opinion as the war on Iraq began, Kyl reached back a couple
of centuries to appropriate Thomas Paine's good name in the service
of an illegal and immoral war: "After all, as Thomas Paine
once wrote: 'The cause of America is in good measure, the cause
of all mankind.'" 3/27/03, "With Mankind in Mind: Appreciating
Paine: "He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole
contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death."
1783, The American Crisis.
Paine: "That there are men in all countries who get their living
by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking
as it is true..." Rights of Man, 1791.
the recent firestorm of criticism of U.S. troops who, in the words
of the New York Times, 'stood by while Iraq's museums were looted
in the days after the Hussein government fell'? Well, the actual
number of priceless pieces "looted" has been recently
reappraised... to just 33." Kyl, 6/13/03, "The Search
for Iraqi Weapons."
This bogus story was initially run in the Washington Post, picked
up by Charles Krauthammer and widely cited on conservative blogs.
I did not see a retraction by Kyl or Krauthammer or WAPO. See USA
Today 11/2/05 citing the US military's lead investigator, Col. Matthew
Bogdanos. "In all, more than 13,864 objects were stolen, and
at least 5,359 were recovered, say investigators." Bogdanos
is the author of Thieves of Baghdad, "the civilian world's
most detailed look at how the thefts unfolded and the behind-the-scenes
efforts to recover the priceless antiquities." Columbia University
archaeologist Zainab Bahrani "believes a final analysis will
find that more than 20,000 items were stolen."
Kyl's great WMD snipe hunt.
may be hidden or buried." Kyl, 4/25/03, "After the War"
critics ask why huge stockpiles of these weapons have not been found.
The first obvious response is that, the fact that they have not
been found does not mean all the experts were wrong - that they
never existed. All it means is that they have not yet been found..."
Kyl, 6/13/03, "The Search for Iraqi Weapons"
attacks the "one-sided pictures we are getting every night
on TV about Iraq - unsettling images of death, protest, and anger
from those seeking signs of "quagmire" rather than progress."
Kyl, 9/19/03, "Yes, There is Good News in Iraq"
tell the troops.
combat operations ended in Iraq just four months ago." Kyl,
9/19/03, "Yes, There is Good News in Iraq"
Troops will prevent civil war?
President Bush listened to his critics on the war in Iraq. [Message:
Don't listen to critics!] Perhaps as soon as December, he'd cede
control of the country to some sort of rudimentary government there,
as France and Germany have demanded. He'd turn over authority for
Iraq's recovery to the United Nations, just as several Democratic
presidential candidates have repeatedly urged. And American troops,
except perhaps for a small force, would begin to withdraw. What
happens then?... To start with, the country would face the prospect
of civil war." 11/30/03, "Victory In Iraq, Victory at
Home," Jon Kyl & Zell Miller.
Tribune: "...by any measure, Iraqis will tell you that their
country is embroiled in what amounts to civil war." "On
the ground, it's a civil war," by Aamer Madhani, 4/14/06.
one ever said this [war] plan would be easy." Kyl, 5/31/04,
"'Nothing new' in Iraq Doesn't Mean 'Nothing Important'"
the troops: SHUT UP!
Bush’s harshest critics offer no serious policy alternatives,
but do great damage: to our troops’ morale..." Kyl, 6/7/04,
"Iraq, Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"
500,000 dead Iraqi children due to sanctions; US bases in Saudi
Arabia; blind support for Israel; the plight of Palestinians...
have attacked the United States because they believed we were soft."
Kyl, 9/30/02, "The danger of empty threats"
lucky protesters better watch out.
Americans support U.S. military action, but a vocal minority does
not. This is democracy. We should all be grateful that we live in
a country where government dissent does not mean imprisonment or
murder." 3/27/03, National Review Online.
'naysayers' and 'hand-wringers.'
naysayers had had their way, Franklin Roosevelt would never have
come to the aid of Churchill's England prior to Pearl Harbor. Just
as they do today, millions rallied against America's foreign policy
— even famous celebrities, such as Charles Lindbergh and the
radio commentator Father Charles Coughlin. Roosevelt's own ambassador
to England, Joseph P. Kennedy, prophesied that democracy was "finished"
and Hitler unstoppable. He urged appeasement." Kyl, 3/27/03,
National Review Online.
does not win wars." 9/20/04, "Republican Senators Sound
the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.
Roosevelt ignored them. He understood Hitler's threat, recognizing
it would eventually reach U.S. shores. And without American assistance,
England would surely have been lost to the Nazis, who might then
have won the war." Kyl, 3/27/03, "With Mankind in Mind:
Appreciating American Leadership." National Review Online.
as Woodrow Wilson.
Woodrow Wilson once characterized America's involvement in the First
World War as an effort 'to make the world safe for democracy,' today,
in our war against terror, President Bush must take the opportunity
to demonstrate that democracy is the key to remaking a safer world."
Kyl, 7/26/02, "The Case for Democracy"
as Harry Truman.
Harry Truman before him, President Bush is criticized by those who
can’t envision the ultimate benefit to the United States.
And like Truman, George Bush knows where the buck stops..."
[In Dick Cheney's offshore account?] Kyl, 5/31/04, "Nothing
New in Iraq Doesn't Mean Nothing Important."
kind of vitriol directed at President Bush and his advisers is not
unprecedented. Abraham Lincoln was called a fool, an ape and worse
as the Union lost battle after battle and suffered tens of thousands
of casualties in the early years of the Civil War. But Lincoln never
lost sight of his ultimate objectives..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq,
Afghanistan, and the Meaning of Sacrifice"
apologies to the chimps, and to Senator Kyl, who bares no responsibility
for these curious views of the Simian-in-Chief: http://www.bushorchimp.com/
critics as Anti-Semites
an address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Kyl defended the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, aka "The
Lie Factory" (Robert Dreyfuss & Jason Vest, Mother Jones
Magazine, Jan. 2004 http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2004/01/12_405.html
). The OSP supplied bogus information hyping the threat posed
by Iraq, but Kyl calls this a conspiracy theory "with bigoted
overtones: many of the neoconservatives are Jews..." Kyl singles
out Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski for particular scorn. Kwiatkowski,
who is featured in the film "Why We Fight" http://www.sonyclassics.com/whywefight/
about the military-industrial complex, and who was a source for
Dreyfuss & Vest, is an "ultra-libertarian" whose writings
"include many weird, extremist and bigoted diatribes"
with a fixation on "Zionist conspiracies." Kyl, "DOD's
Role in Pre-War Iraq Intelligence: Setting the Record Straight,"
fact, if any of [Bush's] critics has a better approach, I haven’t
heard it." Kyl, 5/31/04, "'Nothing New' in Iraq Doesn’t
Mean 'Nothing Important'"
to media: I'll tell you what to ask me.
Kyl, I am going to actually start with something that House Speaker
Dennis Hastert had to say over the weekend. He essentially told
reporters that al Qaeda could operate with more comfort if John
Kerry were elected president. Do you really think that's the case?
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: I'm not going to get into that question
because that's taking us away from the real question, which is...
ZAHN: But that's the question I asked you.
KYL: I know, but I'm not... CNN, Paula Zahn Now, 9/20/04
to Murtha: Shut up already!
Calls for Iraq withdrawal aid bin Laden. "It's clear that our
enemies are listening. So it remains an important duty for those
who serve in public office to clearly consider what signals are
sent by calls for troop withdrawals or rigid withdrawal timetables."
1/19/06 AZ Rep
remembers attempts to appease Hitler as a dangerous folly that gave
him needed time to build up his forces." Kyl, "The danger
of empty threats", 9/13/02.
Hitler's vision of Nazi domination presented to European leaders
in the 1930s a similar choice between aggressive confrontation and
appeasement, provoking a debate with eerie similarities to today's."
Kyl, 11/15/04, "‘A Fundamental Disagreement’ Over
More Than Iraq"
organization that Franklin Delano Roosevelt dreamed would prevent
the rise of another Hitler has not only abdicated any responsibility
for dealing with would-be fuehrer Saddam Hussein, but has essentially
opted out of helping to build a democratic Iraq." Kyl, 12/27/04,
"A chance to fix the UN Security Council?"
the 60th anniversary of D-Day: "The survivors of the 133,000
Allied troops who stormed the beaches would go on to spend months
slogging their way through ferocious battle into the heart of the
Third Reich, liberating concentration camps, towns and entire nations
along the way. Likewise, the bravest of our generation now labor
mightily to bring freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan..." Kyl,
6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Meaning of Sacrifice"
naysayers had had their way, Franklin Roosevelt would never have
come to the aid of Churchill's England prior to Pearl Harbor...
Roosevelt's own ambassador to England, Joseph P. Kennedy, prophesied
that democracy was "finished" and Hitler unstoppable.
He urged appeasement." Kyl, 3/27/03, National Review Online.
going to win in Iraq. Really. Trust me.
can win the war in Iraq. The question is whether we could lose the
war here at home." Kyl, 4/12/04, "Why We Fight"
is a fight we can win, and must..." Kyl, 6/7/04, "Iraq,
Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"
sovereignty turnover last month "could mark a turning point
in the war against terrorism... We are making real progress in the
war of values and ideas in Iraq..." 7/20/04, Jon Kyl &
Joe Lieberman, "The Present Danger."
would hope that these improvements and last week’s election
would finally silence the claims, from Hollywood to Howard Dean,
that the war in Iraq is "unwinnable." Kyl, 12/19/05, "Iraqi
Democracy 3, Terrorists 0"
skeptics of Iraq’s potential for democracy would surely agree
that a coalition defeat in Iraq (or the premature withdrawal of
our troops) would be a major victory for terrorism..." Kyl,
4/12/04, "Why We Fight"
agree: Support the troops -- Back Bush!
perhaps the most powerful affirmation a soldier needs, when a mission
sends them far from friends and family and into harm’s way,
is to believe in the mission itself." Kyl, 8/23/04, "Supporting
the Troops and their Mission"
it is another matter entirely to undercut the morale and effectiveness
of our military by claiming that their mission is simply not worth
doing." Kyl, 8/23/04, "Supporting the Troops and their
"It's not the president's job I think to stand up every morning
and announce the number of casualties." CNN, Paula Zahn Now,
dead, 17000 wounded, $400 billion?
historical standards, the cost thus far has been light." Kyl,
6/7/04, "Iraq, Afghanistan and the Meaning of Sacrifice"
For detailed information on the human cost of this needless war,
administration did find a strong supporter in one Republican senator,
Jon Kyl of Arizona, who spoke on CBS. He said Bush had been a consistent
and committed leader of the Iraq war." 9/20/04, "Republican
Senators Sound the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.
like a true chickenhawk.
is tough," Kyl said, "and there are casualties and just
before victory sometimes it gets most violent." 9/20/04, "Republican
Senators Sound the Alarm over Iraq," International Herald Tribune.
lays an egg on the front line...
battle of Fallujah... has been a real turning point." Kyl,
12/6/04, "A Report from the Front Lines of the War on Terror."
wrong. Bush right. Clinton bad.
Ambassador Joe Wilson, who debunked the Niger yellowcake fraud to
the great displeasure of Bush and Cheney who then leaked portions
of a highly classified intelligence report to try to discredit Wilson:
"Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told CNN that Wilson had 'distorted'
the facts about Niger and that Bush was justified in releasing classified
information to counter that." 4/10/06, New York Daily News
To get a sense of the abject hypocrisy of Kyl's and Bush's position
on leaks, see the April 16, 2006 New York Times' editorial, "A
Bad Leak," at http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0416-20.htm
Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 Commission criticizing
Bush's lack of focus on terrorism: "Former anti-terrorism official's
view skewed." His "charges are absurd, of course..."
and colored by his "bitter disagreement over the administration's
decision to liberate Iraq... Dick Clarke spared the Clinton administration
from any serious criticism ..." 3/29/04, Kyl, "Richard
Clarke's abrupt turn: What about the Clinton years?"
9/11 bait and switch.
years after al-Qaida terrorists attacked our country, it's worth
taking a moment to review the painful lessons we have learned, and
the efforts America must undertake to ensure that it never happens
again... there can be no doubt about the consequences of premature
American withdrawal from [Iraq]. They would be cataclysmic."
9/11/05, Jon Kyl & John McCain, "Controlling Iraq prevents
repeat of horror."
for early withdrawal: cataclysmic annihilation by terrorists.
a timetable for withdrawal "would invite new attacks on America..."
Kyl, 12/5/05, "The Stakes in Iraq"
who would have us withdraw prematurely from Iraq face the burden
of explaining how such a move would not play directly into the hands
of America’s mortal enemies, who seek not only our defeat
but our annihilation... The consequences of quitting Iraq short
of victory would be cataclysmic." Kyl, 3/24/05, "Iraq
is the Battlefield"
the troops: keep them in the Iraq quagmire indefinitely.
colleague Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman noted in a recent
Washington Post op-ed that setting such an artificial schedule [for
troop withdrawal from Iraq] would "discourage our troops..."
Kyl, 12/5/05, "The Stakes in Iraq"
sees no end to war on terror." "He sees no immediate end
to the war on terror, instead likening it to the cold war."
Kyl: "Dealing with Iraq is just another front line in the war
on terrorism..." East Valley Tribune, 12/4/02
long are we going to be in Iraq? As long as it takes." Kyl,
East Valley Tribune, 4/28/03
war has ever been won on a timetable." Kyl, 12/5/05, "The
Stakes in Iraq"
We won WW2 in 3 years, 8 months and 2 days. We have been at war
with Iraq for over 3 years and will exceed our involvement in WW2
after Nov. 22, 2006.