Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ho Hum: Another Leftist Priest Speaks at Marquette

We got an e-mail from a JUSTICE member urging us to attend a speech given by Fr. Simon Harak, S.J. Harak was scheduled to speak on the morality of the Iraq War.

“OK,” we thought, “let’s go see what the fellow has to say.”

In fact, it was utterly predictable.

Harak claimed that Colin Powell failed to convince the U.N. that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. In reality, virtually everybody believed that Saddam had WMDs, and the only issue was whether an invasion was justified. Who is “virtually everybody?” Russian, French and British intelligence. Hans Blix. The CIA. Bill and Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry.

People who say that “Bush lied” to get us into war must believe Bush is the smartest man in the entire world. When everybody else fully believed that Iraq had WMDs, Bush somehow knew better.

Harak actually claimed that Bush knew that Saddam had no WMDs, because, he said, had he thought Saddam did, he would not have sent in American troops. This ignores that fact that U.S. troops fought the Iraqis in 1991, when Saddam most certainly did have WMDs, and the fact that U.S. forces have long been equipped and trained to deal with chemical and biological warfare on the Central Front in Europe. In reality, chemical and biological agents aren’t terribly dangerous to well trained and equipped troops, although they are deadly when used as Saddam used them, against innocent civilians.

Harak claimed that the “means” used to persecute the war by the U.S. are illegitimate, saying that the U.S. has targeted “population centers.” The U.S. has indeed targeted sites in (for example) Baghdad, but with highly accurate smart weapons. Catholic Just War Theory has always recognized that some innocent noncombatants will be killed, and has only insisted that the number be minimized.

Harak showed slides of badly injured Iraqis, claimed to have been injured by U.S. bombing. (They may well have been, although faked or misrepresented photos have frequently been used for propaganda purposes.) If it were 1944, Harak could use similar images to claim that Hitler’s Germany should be left alone to kill all the Jews it had not gotten around to killing yet.

Harak was at his demagogic worst when he dealt with the issue of oil. He seemed to imply that Bush really went into Iraq “for oil.” He was unclear as to whether the point was to take control of Iraqi oil, or merely to keep oil flowing to industrial economies. One could not determine whether he lacked the intelligence to differentiate between the two theories, or was simply canny and willing to pander to whatever theory audience members happened to believe.

The former claim has been proved silly, since the oil belongs to Iraq, and is going to continue to do so.

If the point was to keep the “the oil flowing” it overlooks the simple fact that the oil was already flowing under Saddam’s “Oil for Food” program -- which should have been called the “Oil for Palaces” program or the “Oil for Bribes for the French, Russians and UN” program.

When one thought it could not possibly get any worse, Harak showed the audience a series of photos of pitifully deformed newborns, and claimed that they were the result of the U.S. using depleted uranium in anti-tank munitions during the first Iraq War. Unfortunately, sound science doesn’t support Harak’s claims. The World Health Organization concluded:
[I]n war zones, the inhalation and ingestion of DU-contaminated dust, even under extreme conditions… has been calculated to result in a radiation exposure of less than about 10 millisieverts (mSv). This represents about half the annual dose limit for radiation workers. Such an exposure is thought to result only in a small proportional increase in the risk of leukaemia, of the order of 2% over the natural incidence.
As Harak himself admitted, insoluble uranium oxide dust is “believed to be the main battlefield remnant of the use of DU weapons.” Harak was exploiting the deformed infants to promote a political agenda.

After about 40 minutes, we gave up on hearing anything beyond leftist cant, and left.

The organizations that sponsored this event, JUSTICE, the Campus Ministry and MANRESA, need to be asked “when are you going to sponsor a speaker on the other side?” The latter two organizations, especially, are spending Marquette’s money and are not supposed to be engaged in a propagandistic agenda.

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