Sunday, June 1, 2008

Covering The March To War Instead Of The Necessity Of War

From 'The Truth Shall Set You Free' by Michael Hirsh:

The media, for the moment, is focused on the extraordinary spectacle of a fellow Texan and Bush loyalist accusing his president of deception and incompetence. The Bush White House and its acolytes are suggesting that McClellan may have gone off his rocker. ("This is not the Scott I knew," current press secretary Dana Perino said with studied sadness today.) But the words of the supposedly "disgruntled" McClellan seem chillingly sane. And they are accurate: polls do show that most Americans have decided that the turn to Iraq was a mistake and a distraction from the real war against Al Qaeda. McClellan is also correct in recording that in the run-up to the Iraq invasion the U.S. news media were, for the most part, "complicit enablers" who focused more on "covering the march to war instead of the necessity of war."

The question I have is: why do we have to hear this from him? What's really extraordinary is how few prominent pundits and columnists have gone even half the length that McClellan has in acknowledging that they got things utterly wrong when they gave their full-throated support to Bush's still-unexplained turn toward Saddam after America's "victory" over the Taliban in Afghanistan. Consider just one example: The New York Times's Thomas L. Friedman, one of the most famous columnists in America and maybe in the world today. Here is Friedman writing on March 13, 2003, seven days before the Iraq invasion: "This war is so unprecedented that it has always been a gut call—and my gut has told me four things. First, this is a war of choice. Saddam Hussein poses no direct threat to us today. But confronting him is a legitimate choice—much more legitimate than knee-jerk liberals and pacifists think. Removing Mr. Hussein—with his obsession to obtain weapons of mass destruction—ending his tyranny and helping to nurture a more progressive Iraq that could spur reform across the Arab-Muslim world are the best long-term responses to bin Ladenism."

Many Iraq hawks have encouraged the pleasant myth that because most of the nation's most prominent pundits, like Friedman, backed Bush's shift to Saddam, everyone was equally fooled and gulled. But this is demonstrably false.
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