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Bill Maher Fails His History Test on Afghanistan, War on Terrorism

October 25, 2001

Bill Maher of Politically Incorrect has been making some statements lately concerning Afghanistan and the war on terrorism that show he needs to study his history a bit more carefully.

Here's one assertion of Maher:

Bill: The Persians, the Iranians had a secular Western government.  They overthrew it for the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Huh?  The Iranians last had a "secular Western government," a freely elected democracy, in 1954, which the CIA overthrew.  The U.S. then installed in power the Shah. 

Maher calls the Shah's government  "a secular Western government."  The Shah was a monarch and the government was a dictatorship, notable for its corruption and cruelty.  It was the Shah whom the Iranians overthrew for the Ayatollah.

Bill Maher: Contradictions

On the one hand, Maher remarks favorably on our role in overthrowing many governments:

Bill: I think we need the CIA to get back into business. I think we need Muslim-Americans to join the CIA in big numbers, become spies and foment revolutions in those countries.

That's how we used to do it, and it worked pretty well before we got scared of doing it that way.

On the other hand, Maher denies we ever did so:

Bill: You know what? We are hardly an oppressive, imperialist force.

Bill Maher: His Historical Overview

Beyond his inconsistent assertions, is the sheer lunacy of Maher's claim that "it worked pretty well" when we fomented revolutions in other countries in the Middle East.

Let's see:

  • Syria, 1948 - The U.S. overthrows the regime; Syria turns anti-U.S.
  • Iran, 1954 - The U.S. overthrows nationalist Mossadegh, puts the Shah in power. Result: Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution.
  • Egypt, 1955 - The U.S. tried to kill nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser. He turns to the Soviets.
  • Iraq, 1958 - The U.S. puts Col. Kassem in power. He turns into an anti-American lunatic.
  • Indonesia, 1967 - The U.S. overthrows Sukarno. The army and mobs then kill 500,000 Sukarno supporters.
  • Libya, 1969 - The U.S. helps a young officer, Moammar Khadafy, seize power in Libya, then tries to kill him in 1986.
  • Iraq, 1975 - The U.S. helps young Saddam Hussein seize power. In 1979, the U.S. encourages Saddam to invade Iran in an effort to crush Iran's Islamic revolution. Some 700,000 die in the war.
  • Lebanon, 1983 - U.S. forces intervene in the civil war to prop up the Christian government, 240 U.S. Marines die.

If that's working "pretty well," I'd hate to see what failure is like.

Bill Maher has admirable positions on many issues, but he really should learn a bit more about Middle Eastern history so as to avoid putting his foot in his mouth again and misleading his many viewers.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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