All About Josh

Monday, July 07, 2003

REMEMBER PHILIP BRENNER?: Yes, he's the infamous American University professor who I blogged about last year that thought Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were only bad from a "Western perspective" -- this before 9-11. Well, he made an appearance on Hannity & Colmes in April when I was away in London. And he made the liberal Colmes shell-shocked in his insinuations that Fidel Castro's Cuba was the moral and legal equivalent of the United States. And here's the transcript:


April 29, 2003 Tuesday

SECTION: News; International

LENGTH: 1704 words

HEADLINE: Interview With Philip Brenner

GUESTS: Philip Brenner

BYLINE: Sean Hannity, Alan Clomes


Cuba was reelected today to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Commission but do they deserve it? White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer doesn't think so.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Having Cuba serve again on the Human Rights Commission is like putting Al Capone in charge of bank security.


COLMES: Joining us in D.C. Philip Brenner, a professor of international relations at American University, and co-author of "Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle With the Super Powers After the Missile Crisis." Good to have you with us, sir.


COLMES: What's wrong with saying and letting our message out to nations that if you are not going to observe basic human rights you do not participate in the body of nations and sit on human rights commissions unless you do certain basic things. What's wrong with that?

BRENNER: Well, the question is this about trashing the United Nations? I heard you...

COLMES: No, not from me, not from me. That's not my view. I'm not - - I favor the United Nations. My argument is should you sit on the Human Rights Commission anywhere, U.N. or anywhere else, if you are not an observer of human rights?

BRENNER: Well, the people who elected Cuba were the other members of this Human Rights Commission and you could say they don't belong there either.

COLMES: Maybe not.

BRENNER: What the real message here is that the message that we're not getting through to the American people is that the world is very angry at the United States and they're going to stick it in the United States' eye and we have to see this as an extraordinary rejection of the United States, not so much as support for Cuba.

COLMES: But shouldn't the United States and any decent, respectable, moral country stand up against what countries like Cuba does, Cuba that has rounded up 78 opposition leaders, sent them to prison for terms of up to 28 years, three alleged hijackers shot to death recently without the benefit of a trial, and shouldn't we be forceful in speaking out against these kind of abuses and not allow these countries to sit on commissions dealing with human rights issues?

BRENNER: Sure. They violate human rights. There's no question about that but so does the United States. Amnesty International...

COLMES: To the extent that Cuba does?

BRENNER: Well, when George Bush was governor of Texas without any compunctions he executed 153 people.

COLMES: Well, wait a minute but he did that legally, sir. I'm against the death penalty but he followed the law.

BRENNER: Well, they were legally executed in Cuba.

COLMES: Cuba breaks international law.

BRENNER: Excuse me. They were legally executed in Cuba. They have laws.

COLMES: But wait a second. He did it legally.

BRENNER: They had trials. They violated laws for which they had capital punishment.

COLMES: But, Mr. Brenner, George W. Bush and I disagree with him totally on policy, I disagree with him totally about the death penalty, but he didn't do it illegally. He followed the law of Texas which, of course, he favored. Fidel Castro breaks international law, is a human rights violator. You can't put George W. Bush in the same category.

BRENNER: Excuse me. He did not break international law. There's a law in Cuba that makes capital punishment the punishment for hijacking and these people were hijackers. They were found guilty of it.

HANNITY: Yes, and what were they trying to do? They were trying to get the heck away from him and his repressive regime.

BRENNER: Excuse me, were they hijackers?

HANNITY: You know what your problem is?

BRENNER: Were the people on those boats lives at risk, yes.

HANNITY: You know what your problem is, professor, you equate their justice system with ours. Have you ever met or discussed the issues of what life was like when he came into power and the brutal murders that he and his thugs were involved in? I have.

I have a friend of mine, Armando DeQuesada (ph). I'll put you in touch with him. Talk to him about what the brutal murder and torture of his family and his relatives and his friends when this animal came into power. Now this country is going to be in the Human Rights Committee? You got to be kidding me.

BRENNER: Well, I think that rather than focus again on Cuba, understand that they were elected because the world, the countries on that commission and, in fact, most of the countries of the world see the United States bullying Cuba in ways that are against international law and they're in effect defending Cuba.

HANNITY: Sir, you just...

BRENNER: Why do we want to put those countries in that position? That's the question we have to ask.

HANNITY: Where is your criticism of Castro, the murderer? He's a murderer. He's a thief and a thug and a murderer. When will you say what needs to be said? You're a professor. Do you not know the history of him coming to power?

BRENNER: Excuse me. The question before us is why would the countries in the United Nations do that? Doesn't that bother you that everyone in the world looks at us and sees those people...

HANNITY: Why are those people getting in broken down, dilapidated, rickety boats and inner tubes in shark infested waters and risking death? You know why they're doing it because they've lived under the oppressive regime. That's why they're doing it.

COLMES: All right, we're going to take a quick break.

BRENNER: They also live next to the richest country in the world and they have relatives in the United States telling them they can come here and live a good life.

COLMES: All right, sir. We're going to take a quick break and be right back to continue the debate on the other side.

You're watching the Fox News Channel, the network America trusts for real journalism, fair and balanced.


HANNITY: Continue now with Mr. Brenner. Mr. Brenner look you're not denying he's a murderous thug so you explain to our audience why a murderous thug like Castro should be chosen with the honor of his country to be on the Human Rights Commission, just like Libya which is another joke, just like Iraq being on the Disarmament Commission? Explain to our audience how that makes sense to you.

BRENNER: Well, the world is not the place we would like it to be. A lot of our allies, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria where we get an awful lot of oil, are on the Human Rights Commission. If we were going to disallow countries to be on that commission then, in effect, we would...

HANNITY: Why do we have a commission? This renders it a joke. It renders it meaningless when the biggest violaters of human rights on the face of this planet, their countries are rewarded with that prestigious position.

We're rendering that entire body meaningless because there are no human rights in Castro's world, in Kadafi's world, just like there's no disarmament in Saddam's old world or in Iran's world. It's foolish and it gives us another reason to get away from this meaningless body known as the United Nations.

BRENNER: Well, I think what you have to do is stand back and ask yourself a different question. Why is it that we don't understand how it is that the rest of the world could honor these countries? And, until we understand that, this is not the 19th century. We live in the world.

COLMES: Mr. Brenner.

BRENNER: If you guys want to live in the 19th century, go there but we live in the 21st century.

COLMES: No, thanks. Mr. Brenner, I favor -- this is Alan. I favor the United Nations. I want to see the United Nations be vital and vibrant but it's not going to be as long as it puts human rights violaters on commissions. It's not just -- and it's not just Cuba.

You have Peru that's still holding Laurie Barrington (ph), an American citizen. You have Russia that refuses the Human Rights Commission to look into lack of human rights in Chechnya. So, I think the U.N. has to be forceful in being very clear about where it stand morally if it's going to be a vital entity in the 21st century.

BRENNER: But on those grounds the United States wouldn't be on the commission.

COLMES: Wait a minute. Would you equate the United States' violations with Peru, with Russia, and especially with Cuba? Is there moral equivalency between these two countries?

BRENNER: If I can finish my sentence.

COLMES: Yes, sir.

BRENNER: What would be the standards which we would judge? We wouldn't for one thing ask a country to sign the treaties that hold them accountable, and the United States has refused to sign one of the basic treaties on human rights and it was only in 1992 that we signed the Political Rights Treaty.

COLMES: But, Mr. Brenner, you're suggesting there's moral equivalency between the United States and...

BRENNER: I'm asking who should judge?

COLMES: Please let me finish my question and you'll have a full chance to answer. You're suggesting there's moral equivalency between what we do, human rights wise, and what Cuba does human rights wise. Are you suggesting there is that kind of equivalency?

BRENNER: I'm suggesting the rest of the world sees it that way and I think you need to understand how the rest of the world sees things because we live in the rest of the world. We don't live by ourselves anymore.

COLMES: I think we have to be -- we are a moral country. We have to continue to be. We have to stand up and we have to encourage the United Nations not to reward countries who do these kinds of things to get on commissions.

HANNITY: All right, we got to roll.

COLMES: And there is no moral equivalency.

HANNITY: Final point, Mr. Brenner, we got to go.

HANNITY: Your final word professor.


HANNITY: All right, Mr. Brenner, that's all. You rendered him speechless, Colmes.

BRENNER: Can I have a final word?

COLMES: All right, we gave you an opportunity. We have ten seconds if you want to respond.

HANNITY: Go ahead.

BRENNER: I think that we should invite talks with Cuba to improve their human rights. We refuse to talk to them. That would be an important way to start.

HANNITY: All right, you had the last word, Mr. Brenner. That is all the time we have left this evening.

LOAD-DATE: April 30, 2003

What a guy, that Brenner.