Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Speaker an Apologist for Saddam’s Kuwait Invasion

Last week Fr. Simon Harak, S.J, spoke at Marquette under the auspices of JUSTICE, the Campus Ministry and MANRESA.

Just listening to the speech, it was obvious that Harak is viciously anti-American, but it wasn’t immediately obvious he had been an apologist for Saddam.

But he had.

Harak authored an article titled “Why DID Iraq Invade Kuwait? -- A Brief History.” It was written to oppose the first Gulf War.

Harak repeats Saddam’s propaganda claims, such as:
It had been traditional in the Arab understanding to consider that the territory from Baghdad south to the Gulf (including what is now Kuwait) was “Iraq.” The al-Sabah family (of modern Kuwait) wanted to “carve out” from that territory a fiefdom for themselves and their economic activities, free from any outside power -- Arab or colonialist.
Yes, those terrible Kuwaitis, not wanting to be part of Saddam’s country, as they “traditionally” were.

Harak goes on at great lengths about the evils of the Kuwaiti regime, who sold oil at below the OPEC price (does Harak like cartels?), and “slant drilled” to tap oil that Saddam thought was his.

Concluding the essay, Harak paints a picture of arrogant Kuwaitis taunting Saddam and somehow forcing him to invade:
But on July 30th, Sheikh Sabeh Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, the brother of the Emir, and foreign minister, was speaking to Jordanian diplomats. He ridiculed the Iraqi forces, and when the Jordanians rebuked him, he said, “If they don’t like it, let them occupy our territory ... we are going to bring in the Americans.” Again, this was three days before Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. . . . The meeting broke up after two hours; two days later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
The sheer impertinence of those Kuwaitis! What is a dictator supposed to do when people in the next country talk like that?

This, bizarrely, is the Simon Harak who claims to be anti-war. But he seems to have no qualms about making excuses for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.

Harak doesn’t seem to have learned much about Saddam over the years.

As recently as early 2004 he was in a classroom at the Christian Brothers University denying that Saddam used any “Oil for Peace” money for palaces. According to a student who heard his presentation:
Fr. Simon tried to say that Saddam was not taking the money from sanctions and oil - that that is all a myth- and insinuated that Saddam just had some personal money. . . . He said that Saddam had some “personal” money that was unrelated to taking money that rightfully belonged to his people, and THAT is how he built his palaces.
When challenged on such views, Harak tends to turn insulting and self-righteous. For example, a poster on a discussion board challenged him as follows:
How can you possibly post a message that says it’s OK for Saddam Hussein to build palaces instead of hospitals and schools? Palaces which may very well have been or are being used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons (which he has used on his own people). The embargo would be over if Iraq would just account for the weapons making materials and equipment that their own documentation proves they have purchased. If you’re going to Oppose the embargo, place the blame where it belongs.
Harak responded with the following tirade:
Sad to hear you parrot US propaganda.

Have recently been to Iraq, and have also done much research on Iraq and, of course, our presentation of Iraq in the media.

Have generally found that media programming has sunk so deep that it is impossible to refute, especially for people who are deep down, looking for someone to hate, and really have never considered the command of Jesus to love our enemies.

If you are one of the above, I apologize for disturbing you and humbly suggest that you pray a bit more and listen to hatred and fear (however plausibly presented) a bit less.

If however, you are willing to entertain the notion that our media and our government can sometimes be false, and that our Lord can be true, I would be glad to discuss with you what I have learned from my time in, and research on, the Iraqi people.

Blessings and Peace with Justice
Simon, in the Company of Jesus
Yes, the fellow who hates the Bush Administration is lecturing a critic on loving one’s enemies.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with radicals like Harak speaking at Marquette, or on any other college campus. But of course, there is nothing wrong with a racist speaking at Marquette, or on any other college campus.

But what would we think of an organization that brought the racist to campus, and appeared to endorse his views?

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