Food, Love, and the Iraq War

orielly.jpg When One for the Table was kind enough to mention the recent publication of Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq) – our “definitive compendium” of misinformation, disinformation, failed predictions and outright lies about the Iraq war – my colleague Victor Navasky and I decided to return the favor by scouring our database to see what quotes, if any, it might contain relating to “food, politics, and love.”  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), our search proved quite fruitful – at least in regard to the food and politics part of the equation.

For example, Bill O’Reilly declared in January 2003, less than two months before the invasion: “I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week.”

Islamic scholar Kanan Makiya predicted just two days before the war began that American troops would be “greeted with sweets and flowers” (thereby contradicting fellow academic Fouad Ajami, who had suggested that it was “kites and boom boxes” that coalition forces would be met with).

freedomfries.jpg Food aficionados will likely recall that when France indicated it wouldn’t support an American-sponsored UN resolution to authorize the use of force against Saddam, Republican congressmen Bob Nye and Walter Jones countered by having the word “French” expunged from the menu in the three House of Representatives cafeterias (“French fries” became “Freedom fries,” and “French toast” was renamed “Freedom toast). “This action today,” Nye announced to the press, “is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France.”

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And, in June 2005, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) responded to charges that the rights of detainees at the U.S. prison facility at Guantánamo were being violated by noting that the inmates there had “never been more comfortable in their lives.” “The idea that we are somehow torturing people in Guantánamo is simply not true,” he added, “unless you consider having to eat chicken three times a week torture.” Rush Limbaugh heartily agreed. “If word of how they’re being treated keeps getting out,” he enthused on his radio show a few days later, “we’re going to have Al Qaeda people surrendering all over the world trying to get in the place.”

As hinted above, Iraq War quotations referencing love have proven considerably more difficult to find than those involving food. We have, however, located a remark made by George W. Bush at a White House menorah lighting ceremony in 2001 that so thoughtfully conflates the warmth of traditional holiday celebrations with the harsh realities of the War on Terror that we feel compelled to share it with you here. “I couldn’t,” stated the President, “imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah.”

Illustrations ©  2008 by Robert Grossman. Excerpts from "Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq)", published by Simon & Schuster.