feelers from Saddam Hussein

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Dymn

Senior Member
According to my research, a "feeler" refers to an insect antenna, and metaphorically, to some test to see how someone else reacts to something. In that sense it's usually collocated with "to put out feelers" or "to send out feelers". However I don't fully understand the meaning of "feelers" in this context:

"When the war had been going on for a month, with Iraq devastated by the incessant bombing, there were feelers from Saddam Hussein that Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks."

Who has put out the feelers here? The book is A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, and it's obviously narrated from an American point of view, that's why my intuiton tells me it's the US who have put out feelers and here it refers to the results from that "feeler test" rather than the feelers themselves. Like, if we make a parallelism with the literal meaning, and an insect touches a leaf, the feeler would be the leaf and not the antenna. Am I on the right track?

Thanks
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your interpretation of "feelers" is mine also. I rather think that the use of "feelers" is wrong.

    "there were unofficial approaches and purposely leaked intelligence from Saddam Hussein that indicated that Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks."

    I think that the Iraqi government were putting out feelers to see how the Coalition would react to the idea that Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States/Coalition would stop its attacks.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I agree with Myridon. Saddam Hussein was making tentative approaches (through what channels is not stated) to the United States, to discover whether withdrawing from Kuwait would be enough to stop the American attacks.

    The form "there were feelers" is relatively unusual, and it does avoid the need to explicitly state what the feelers were testing for, but I don't see it as wrong.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There were feelers from Saddam Hussein = Saddam Hussein was putting out feelers.
    How is that an incorrect use?
    Consider the whole sentence:
    "there were feelers from Saddam Hussein that Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks." Poor English and misleading.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Consider the whole sentence:
    "there were feelers from Saddam Hussein that Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks." Poor English and misleading.
    In your opinion. There's no point in suggesting "from Saddam Hussein" is not there.
    It seems normal to me.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There were feelers from Saddam Hussein = Saddam Hussein was putting out feelers.
    :thumbsup:

    He was indicating indirectly through diplomatic channels that he might be interested in making a truce. He didn't go straight to the U.S. and say "Here is my proposal. What do you think?" He told someone he trusted who talked someone he trusted who had a connection with someone the Americans trusted who asked one of the Americans who reported back to the U.S. government.

    ...there were feelers from Saddam Hussein that Iraq would consider withdrawing from Kuwait if [i.e. on the condition that] the United States would stop its attacks."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    There's no point in suggesting "from Saddam Hussein" is not there.
    That was not my intent.

    from Saddam Hussein is merely adjectival forming a noun phrase - it is of no consequence to the structure. It is in grey as it is easier to see the relationship between "feelers" and the relative clause.

    there were feelers that Iraq would consider withdrawing :cross:
    there were feelers to the effect/that suggested /that indicated , etc. that Iraq would consider withdrawing :tick:
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The use of feelers is correct. It's the relative clause that you're objecting to.
    In fairness, the question was about the OP's understanding of "feelers", not the relative clause. If the relative clause is left untouched, then "feelers" must go, as it is wrong.

    Rumours or suggestions, would be better.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In fairness, the question was about the OP's understanding of "feelers", not the relative clause. If the relative clause is left untouched, then "feelers" must go, as it is wrong.
    The question is "Who has put out the feelers there?" The answer is Saddam Hussein. "From Saddam Hussein" is, in fact, the most important part of the sentence with respect to the question.

    There were not rumors or suggestions from Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein did not put out rumors or suggestions.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I agree with the OP:
    it's obviously narrated from an American point of view, that's why my intuiton tells me it's the US who have put out feelers and here it refers to the results from that "feeler test" rather than the feelers themselves.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    it's obviously narrated from an American point of view, that's why my intuiton tells me it's the US who have put out feelers and here it refers to the results from that "feeler test" rather than the feelers themselves.

    That's just not plausible.

    This is a direct quote from the original. There is nothing said about results or responses.
    there were feelers from Saddam Hussein

    That's a very basic English sentence with a straightforward meaning. There were feelers and they came from Saddam Hussein.

    There were questions from Kentix.

    Kentix was not responding to other people's questions. Kentix was asking questions.

    The content of the "feelers" also shows who initiated the action.

    Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks.

    Paraphrasing: Here's our proposal. If you do that, we will do this in exchange.

    Feelers from the American side would say:
    the United States would/will stop its attacks if Iraq withdraws from Kuwait
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The book is A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, and it's obviously narrated from an American point of view,
    Don't be fooled by the title. It's obviously written from an American point of view because the author is American, but he's far from a mainstream U.S. historian.

    A People's History of the United States is a 1980 non-fiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn presented what he considered to be a different side of history from the more traditional "fundamental nationalist glorification of country".[1] Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties.

    "Professors Michael Kazin and Michael Kammen condemn the book as a black-and-white story of elite villains and oppressed victims, a story that robs American history of its depth and intricacy and leaves nothing but an empty text simplified to the level of propaganda.[21][22]"

    A People's History of the United States - Wikipedia
     

    Dymn

    Senior Member
    This is a direct quote from the original. There is nothing said about results or responses.
    there were feelers from Saddam Hussein

    That's a very basic English sentence with a straightforward meaning. There were feelers and they came from Saddam Hussein.

    [...]

    The content of the "feelers" also shows who initiated the action.

    Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States would stop its attacks.

    Paraphrasing: Here's our proposal. If you do that, we will do this in exchange.
    I think this makes sense, and part of my confusion is that I'm not used to the "would... would..." structure. I think it is equivalent to the second conditional: "Iraq would withdraw from Kuwait if the United States stopped its attacks.".

    Don't be fooled by the title. It's obviously written from an American point of view because the author is American, but he's far from a mainstream U.S. historian.
    I was referring to the fact that the book talks about American history and the Iraq War is just a complementary issue. I've just finished the book and I've been aware of the author's ideological bias since the very beginning. But I wouldn't mix up language and politics in this forum.
     
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