Tuesday, May 07, 2013

New York Times and the drumbeat for yet another war …

no war:peace:dog in window.jpg
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:
Have The Times and its reputation recovered fully? My sense is that they have recovered better from the Blair scandal than from the paper’s flawed reporting about the existence of weapons of mass destruction that led up to the Iraq war. I hear about this, disparagingly, from readers far more often. Because much of that reporting, especially from the disgraced reporter Judith Miller, took place at the same time and under the same leadership, I asked Mr. [Howell] Raines, [the Executive Editor in that period] about that as well.

“I regret any error that ever got into the paper, but from where I sat, there was a total congruence — everything was coalescing around one message,” he said, noting that The Times was far from alone in its reporting. “I was suspicious, and perhaps I should have been more aggressive in pursuing that suspicion.”
"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."
[Iraq] turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.

Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.
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.
So what should the US do?

The first thing is to de-escalate the fighting – initially, stopping the arms shipments to all sides. And that means negotiating directly with Russia, on a quid pro quo to stop US and allied training and arms shipments to the rebels, in return for an end to Russian and allied shipments to the Syrian government. And it means supporting a broad UN mandate for a truly internationally credible inspection team authorized and empowered to investigate all claims of chemical weapons use, by any side in the conflict. (Accountability for any violations of the chemical weapons prohibition must be imposed, but the timing of achieving such justice may have to wait for an end to the fighting.) …
Read it all to get a sense that everyone is NOT coalescing around one message ...


Classof65 said...

And we need to remove those U.S. troops from Jordan...

Hattie said...

Why do our leaders even try to propagandize us about all this stuff? They will just go ahead and do as they please.
Robert Fisk was in Syria recently. You can view him on today's Democracy Now.

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