The New York Times is out again this morning and the newspaper that so tarnished its reputation by drumming the march to war in Iraq 17 years ago hasn’t learned its lessons. The scorecard on the paper’s offerings on Iran today is miserable:
— Zero reporting/skepticism about the actual facts of the attacks on tankers and other U.S. provocations.
— An “analysis” that makes it seem like “hardliners on both sides” want increased confrontation, even war.
— One passing reference to the fact that a decade ago “Israel was repeatedly talked down from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.” But zero reporting about the Israeli connection today.
— No reporting about the Donald Trump-Sheldon Adelson-John Bolton connection.
The one mild exception to the ineptitude in the Times is an analysis of the evidence by Eliot Higgins of bellingcat — who doesn’t get to the point, that the evidence is only from one side and unconvincing, till the very end of a long article. His key sentence — “Nothing presented as evidence proves that the object was placed there by the Iranians.” — should have opened his article, not been buried 3 paragraphs from the end.
The milquetoast editorial that the Times ran yesterday against escalation but approving of sanctions on Iran (“Dialogue between the Trump administration and Iranian government would be wise, though Iran may prove unwilling to talk”) didn’t even make it into the print edition.
The most remarkable exception to this pattern is the “Readers’ Comments” on the NYT editorial. There were 473 of them before the Times closed the discussion, and we could not find a single one that is supportive of war or of U.S. efforts to continue pressure on Iran. So Bret Stephens gets to spur on a war in his Times column, but the paper’s readers are universally against the idea. Moreover, they hold the Times responsible and see through the equivocations in the editorial. Several point out that the press was the handmaiden of the Iraq disaster.
These readers have been well-educated by the last 20 years. They are privileged people (a definition of Times readership) and they have lost illusions about the American force for good in the world and are openly conspiracy-minded about false-flags and unspoken alliances.
The 473 commenters actually did the Times‘s job for it, by expressing an acerbic skepticism about the facts (including citing the Gulf of Tonkin lies in 1964), and then by blaming the U.S. for the confrontation and condemning it. A good number bring up Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Here’s a selection of those comments. Lucy Cooke in California calls out the paper, and has no piety about the U.S.:
GWBush sold citizens a war based on lies promoted by The NYT and supported by Democrats as well as Republicans. That war put the US trillions in debt, with nothing to show for it, and made the US less safe and the world more unstable . . .
Perhaps Europe, Russia and China will stand together to protect the world from the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel. . . the new axis of evil?
Steve in Connecticut lampoons the Times‘s credulity.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a likely culprit”
And so is the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We do not know what happened yet, so why claim Iran is the likely culprit when they are whom seem the less likely. Iran was hosting the PM of Japan the first time they have hosted a PM from Japan in 40 years — a big deal. Why would they want to anger Japan?
Eddie B. of Toronto echoes that cynicism.
Should we believe that other countries involved in this conflict — that is, the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel — have never engaged in any type of false-flag operations?
Another Citizen in St Paul sees right through the Times’s hand-wringing.
It’s sad to see the Times‘ Editorial Board beating the drums of war against Iran with the unsubstantiated claim that Iran “is a likely culprit.”
What evidence does the Times have that the rest of us don’t have? None.
What would be Iran’s motivation be to attack these tankers? None is suggested here.
Why would Iran risk war with the US by engaging in these attacks? No explanation is presented here.
The owner of the company whose tanker was attacked thinks it wasn’t Iran.
just Robert of North Carolina is one of many readers how express greater sympathy for Iran than the U.S.:
Trump declared war on Iran and flaunted the rest of the world when it decided to withdraw the US from the Iranian nuclear agreement under pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia.
(And this at a time when even the PBS News Hour frames Iran as our “enemy.”)
Patrick Nedry of Petersburg, Michigan, is one of several to mention the U.S. lies that preceded the war in Vietnam:
It took over 40 years to ‘fess up that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was fabricated and overblown. There are 58,000+ names on a wall in Washington, DC who were not around to learn of findings. President Trump avoided service in that war, so he could get us into another one?
Richard Katz of Pennsyvlania takes a categorial antiwar view that is surely the chief feeling of almost all Americans outside the editorial boards and thinktanks:
The intelligence community has been wrong from the Vietnam war to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We have not been directly attacked. Our response for the strait of Hormuz being dangerous should not be spending a trillion dollars and the deaths of American and Iranian lives. It should be spending a trillion dollars on the green New deal and American jobs to stop our dependency on oil.
Michael of Hatteras Island blames the elites for war:
Good grief. This is nothing but a continuation of our foreign policy. It doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office. War is our purpose on this planet. It always has been. I mean, get real. Read your history. They lie us into it, and everyone – including the other party (and the press) – buy into. (War) is just the foremost business of America and it’s elites.
MAA in Colorado reflects hard-earned common sense:
You can’t win a war in the Middle East. It can’t be done.
We didn’t defeat the Taliban. They still exist. We didn’t win in Iraq. That’s still a mess. We didn’t win in Syria. The idealogy that drove that conflict too still exists.
Hugh Garner, Melbourne, is justly suspicious of the U.S.
It seems to me that any ‘intelligence’ from the current administration can only be viewed with the utmost suspicion. We all know the ‘casus belli’ for all the recent wars the US has been involved. It beggars belief that a modern sophisticated nation like Iran would provoke a major war, under the circumstances it has been under in recent decades. We know that ‘team Trump’ is really ‘team deception’.
Stephanie Wood of Montclair, NJ, has gotten an education in international human rights law:
Another country would have executed Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as war criminals, and put the bankers in jail for tanking the economy.
Christine McM sees a conspiracy:
I believe the Saudis are behind the tanker attacks. they have every incentive to do so, since their main goal is to get the US fighting for them.
Also, why on earth would the Iranians attack a Japanese tanker when Prime Minister Abe is on an official visit?
AJ detects the highminded hypocrisy in the Times‘ support for sanctions, and joins those who have sympathy for Iran:
“attacks on civilian targets are reprehensible.”
But sanctions that cripple economies, impoverish millions of civilians, denying them necessary medical care, economic livelihood and the freedom to pursue their interests, well, that’s just “okay?”
Pontificating on “reprehensibility” without any acknowledgement of the civilian havoc, tragedy, punishment, death and injury we inflict on the Iranian people, is just plain ridiculous.
Revisionist in Phoenix also sees the Times‘s support for sanctions as imperialist hubris:
What a silly editorial. Wake up. What the heck are you talking about?
How about lifting the sanctions? No? How basic and naive. Evidence of sabotage, 1987 and 1988. You mean the war when we backed Saddam for fear of Khomeini siding with the “Aetheists”? His words.
You mean the war when we “accidentally” shot a civilian jet and never made repetitions [reparations] but somehow still claim moral supremacy?
. . .There is no regime change in Iran. Thousands will die, overwhelmingly Iranian. Nothing will change geopolitically. If anything, the winner will be Russia. The war will extend to Lebanon and Syria with that vial PM of Israel chomping at the bit. . .
[S]top treating countries with ancient histories like infants. Iran is integral to the near East. Nothing can change that. Not Netanyahu, nor MBN nor MBZ nor Trump.
Finally, at some point, we Americans need to stop acting like the world belongs to us.
Jay BeeWis, in Wisconsin, notes that Israel pushed our last great war of reforming the Middle East.
We invaded Iraq in 2003 because Israel wanted Saddam out of there. Remenber, 15 of the 19 terrorists of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, so we invade Iraq using Saudi Arabian air bases to launch attacks. Duh! Now Israel wants us to go to war with Iran and Donnie is playing right into their hands. Of course I will be accused of anti-Semitism for this analysis, but the US anti-Palistinianism and biased favorable kid glove treatment of Israel is at the heart of most of our problems in the Middle East and most likely, given terrorist’s increasingly sophisticated means of attack, this country will sooner or later pay for our sins in that part of the world.
Notice that Jay describes a problem that the NYT has never addressed, anti-Palestinianism.