Looks like the New York Times is onboard to try to talk a reluctant U.S. citizenry into another Middle East war. Whoopee! This could be a terrible ride for all concerned.
I got my first inkling of the seriousness of this over the weekend from the "public editor" column. That's the in-house critic who is supposed to call the paper out when it violates journalistic rules, such as by lying in its stories. The current incumbent, Margaret Sullivan, has shown somewhat more signs of life than past occupants of the position. Her column rehashed the paper's response to a long forgotten miscreant, Jason Blair, who was making up his copy out of thin air about a decade ago. However, she went on to point out, individual fabulists are not what dominates the reader complaints she sees:
"Everything was coalescing around one message …" Here we go again … the mere suggestion that "everything" is pointing one way should be suspicious where hard information is obscured by conflicting, warring parties. All the more so in a region in which the U.S. has very little track record of knowing what is up and what is down. In fact, the record shows the U.S. being led around by the nose by ambitious politicians and mendacious pseudo-allies. Whose "everything" is this?
Then today we get a column by Bill Keller, another past editor who has more or less admitted he was suckered about Iraq. He is urging us to forget about that war crime and leap into Syria. He sure does his best to ensure that "everything is coalescing around one message."
Having said that, he goes on for a full column urging us to ignore exactly those prescriptions.
He faults Obama for doubting that the U.S. has a vital national interest in the Syrian civil war. So he makes up with some wobbly legs to stand on while arguing for more intervention: a mix of fear of allowing a haven for terrorists adjacent to a mixed bag of "allies" -- Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. He tops this off with a dose of the foreign policy analogue of the appeal to the "confidence fairy" in economic policy -- we must protect our imperial "credibility."
Let's hope the Obama administration knows that no good will come of another "dumb war" in the Prez' dismissive description the Iraq adventure.
For a balanced discussion of what stance the U.S. might take to try to avert even greater bloodshed, here's an article from analyst Phyllis Bennis.
Read it all to get a sense that everyone is NOT coalescing around one message ...