‘Times’ Publishes Investigation of Deck Chairs Being Badly Arranged on Titanic

on 5 Comments

On the fifth anniversary of the dreadful invasion of Iraq, the Times is doing an investigation of the mistakes. Yesterday the paper ran a long piece on the "fateful" decision in May 2003 to disband the Iraqi army, with the claim that this was the big error. This is pure George Packerism (from his book The Assassin’s Gate), also reflected in Charles Ferguson’s film, No End in Sight, and it is horse feathers. The question of whether Iraq would be better off or worse off with Saddam’s army intact is a good one to debate at the Army War College in Carlisle but a waste of time for smart journalists at the Times.

The mistake was to invade a country that had not attacked us, then change its government, and run its affairs. If that happened in the U.S., you and I would be in the hills, with muzzleloaders and M-16s. How astonishing that towel-heads responded in a similar fashion.

This mistake was an intellectual one, and made by countless contributors to the New York Times, notably Thomas Friedman, Judith Miller, and of course Ken Pollack, who was given the run of the house in the months leading up to war to make his case that, among other things, the Arabs would welcome us and they don’t really care about the Israel/Palestinian issue. David Brooks was for the war. Bill Kristol spearheaded the sale of the plan in Washington; and now he’s an op-ed columnist.

In short, The Times is so implicated in that "fateful" decision that it is apparently incapable of examining the most important factors/mysteries in the runup to the war: the neoconservative program for regime change and spreading democracy and how that virus spread in D.C.; Dick Cheney’s cranium; and George Bush’s stubbornly loyal reliance on a cadre. (Historian Erwin Hargrove says that Bush lacks the ability to listen to anyone outside his little circle; can’t even have a substantive conversation with a congressman…)

(Need I add that there was an unexamined Jewish component to this war? This blog
really began the day my brother said to me, "I was against the Vietnam
war but my Jewish newspaper says this war could be good for Israel." I
have needed since then to examine the role of my people, or its rightwing
leadership, or its confused identity, in fostering violence as an answer to Israel/America’s joined-at-the-hip problems in the Middle

Today’s letters to the Times are simply brilliant (and the paper’s sole credit: it ran them). Says Edwin  Walker of Nashville:

You enabled the Iraq war with your cheerleading reportage, and you
continue to provide a forum for its blinkered defenders, Richard Perle,
Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka, Kenneth M. Pollack and L. Paul Bremer

They were wrong at the beginning, and continue to be
wrong. They hide their defective judgment behind excuses that someone
stabbed them in the back, or that they were in good company in their
disproven beliefs, and argue that we should forget about their history
of failure and take their advice now.

They are an insult to public discourse, but you continue to enable them.

And Melissa Macauley of Evanston disputes the assertion in the Times’s essays on Iraq (I haven’t looked at these yet, I want to keep my breakfast down) that even the most "prescient" could not have anticipated the problems in the invasion five years on. More horse feathers. I demonstrated against this war with hundreds of thousands of Americans who were that prescient. We were not Ph.D.’s in international relations; we knew this was bad policy. Packer caricatured us in his book, The Assassin’s Gate, as grayhaired hippies. An elitist conceit; and The Times marginalizes us to this day, as boobs. Doesn’t matter. We’re coming in. And we’ve alloyed our thinking with realism. Watch out, baby.

An insult to public discourse. Nice. Let us say it again: This is the paper that anatomized Vietnam so courageously, that gave us the Pentagon Papers with the help of brave Ellsberg. This time around it’s providing haven for the war’s planners.

5 Responses

  1. Madrid
    March 18, 2008, 11:53 am

    Here is Obama's address on race:

    link to guardian.co.uk

    Look at the end (second to last paragraph), where he blames the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict on "radical Islam," and exonerates Israel for any guilt in the matter. Just sickening.

    I think you are way too optimistic, Phil, although you have rapidly become my favorite journalist. If anything, I think that Israel's supporters in this country, both Jewish and Christian, have a tighter stranglehold than ever on foreign policy discourse. There is still no discussion in the MSM of the lobby; there is still no discussion of the neocons responsibility for the Iraq quagmire; and there is still no discussion of the true foreign policy interests of the US.

    The entire speech is, for the first 2/3's, a beautifully constructed piece on race in this country, which then ends up in the most racist ways blaming all of our and Israel's foreign policy problems on "radical Islam." What to say? It seems we all have to be marching in lockstep to the Israeli national anthem to really have a stake in this election.

    I choose not to, but let's be very truthful here– I am in a very small minority.

  2. Jim Haygood
    March 18, 2008, 11:56 am


    "If [a foreign occupation] happened in the U.S., you and I would be in the hills, with muzzleloaders and M-16s."

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry, Phil. Ownership of fully-functional, fully-automatic weapons such as the M16 is severely restricted (you need a federal machine gun permit), and illegal in many states. The notorious federal assault weapon ban limited the capacity of magazines available to civilians, unless you buy a "pre-ban magazine."

    So to actually fight a foreign occupation, we would be handicapped by crippled weapons. The muzzleloader is an antique, mostly useful for historical reenactments. But in anti-gunner New Jersey, where you can't even buy a rifle without a firearms permit, a muzzleloader might be a last desperate resort. If present-day gun controls had existed in 1776, we'd still be British, and George Washington would have been hung as a terrorist.

    As for the Slimes, corporations have life cycles of infancy, youth, adulthood, and senescence, just as people do. The Slimes is dying. Should we help it along by poking the moaning patient with sharp sticks, or wait quietly to dance on its grave? Reasonable people can disagree. LOL!

  3. Madrid
    March 18, 2008, 12:49 pm

    Correction to my post above:

    The NPR version of the speech is longer (not sure why the Guardian only gave the first half):

    link to npr.org

    And in it, he does not actually disown Wright, which is at least one positive here.

  4. LeaNder
    March 18, 2008, 8:10 pm

    The video.

    "link to undercoverblackman.blogspot.com

    "But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country — a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

    As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems — two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all."

  5. David Habakkuk
    March 19, 2008, 4:01 am

    The neocons dead, as per Philip's previous post?

    Not at the NYT, clearly.

Leave a Reply