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‘NYT’ readers call out the newspaper for abetting war against Iraq and now Iran

Media Analysis

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.”

Gee. Yeah.

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.

James North and Philip Weiss

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17 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on June 16, 2019, 1:15 pm

    I am flabbergasted. Almost 500 people, mostly from the US, posted comments, and not a single one took the side of the warmongering US or its amanuenses at The New York Times?

    Some of the comments reproduced above are frankly internationalist. (Others are not: they complain, for instance, about Yankee deaths or Yankee debts from the US’s imperialist wars but don’t mention the much greater harm inflicted on other countries.) I hadn’t thought it possible, particularly from the sorts of people who read the Times.

    Probably they’ve realised that a war against Iran would turn out very badly for the US.

    • Misterioso on June 17, 2019, 8:55 am

      @LiberatePalestine, et al

      “Welcome David Schenker” Another Zionist in charge of American foreign policy Philip Giraldi, the Unz Review, June 11, 2019

      “Those who think that the foreign policy of the United States should be the product of serious discussion embracing a variety of viewpoints to come to a conclusion that benefits the American people should perhaps take note of what has been going on in the President Donald Trump administration. The use of unrelenting pressure to include threats of military intervention rather than negotiation has been noted by many, but the media predictably has failed to discuss the implications of having a team in place making decisions relating to the volatile Middle East and beyond that consists overwhelmingly of Orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists.

      “To recap, Trump’s A-team in the Middle East is headed by his Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner who is being personally advised by a group of Orthodox Jews. David Friedman, the U.S. (sic) Ambassador to Israel is also an Orthodox Jew and a former bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic or foreign policy credentials. He is a passionate supporter and even a funder of the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank and on the Golan Heights. Friedman endlessly and ignorantly repeats Israeli government talking points and eventually succeeded in changing the language used in State Department communications, eliminating the word ‘occupied’ when describing Israel’s control of the West Bank. His humanity does not extend beyond his Jewishness, defending the Israeli shooting of thousands of unarmed Gazan protesters and the bombing of schools, hospitals and cultural centers. How he represents the United States and its citizens who are not dual nationals must be considered a mystery.

      “Friedman’s top adviser is Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, who is described by the Embassy as an expert in ‘Jewish education and pro-Israel advocacy.’ Once upon a time Lightstone described Donald Trump as posing ‘an existential danger both to the Republican Party and to the U.S.’ and even accused him of pandering to Jewish audiences. Apparently when opportunity knocked, he changed his mind about his new boss. Pre-government in 2014, Lightstone founded and headed Silent City, a Jewish advocacy group supported by extreme right-wing money that opposed the Iran nuclear agreement and also worked to combat the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

      “Trump’s chief ‘international negotiator’ for the Middle East is yet another Orthodox Jew Jason Greenblatt, the former Trump Organization lawyer. If you have read a recent New York Times op-ed by Greenblatt entitled ‘Care about Gaza? Blame Hamas’ you would understand that the misery being experienced by Palestinians in Gaza has nothing to do with Israeli snipers, artillery rounds and phosphorous bombs. It is all the Arabs’ own fault. Greenblatt uniquely claims that Israel’s illegal settlements are ‘not an obstacle to peace’ and he is very upset because some naysayers are actually putting part of the blame for the human catastrophe in Gaza on Israel.

      “Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman are perfect examples of the type of ‘dual’ loyalist who cannot appreciate that their overriding religious and ethnic allegiances are incompatible with genuine loyalty to the United States. The other key pro-Israel players in the foreign policy establishment are nominally Christian, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom are Christian Zionists who believe (and hope) that the re-creation of Israel is part of biblical prophecy that will lead to a great war, the end of the world as we know it and the second coming of Christ. The final component of the Zionist line-up is National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has been a recipient of the ‘Defender of Israel Award’ as well as an outspoken advocate of war with Iran.

      “Not exactly a model of diversity, is it? Well, there was one piece missing and that was the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, which has been vacant for the past fourteen months due to failure of the Senate to approve the candidate proposed by Trump, one David Schenker. Schenker was not on hold because of what might be regarded as legitimate concerns about his background or his presumed biases, but rather because Senator Tim Kaine had been demanding from the White House documents relating to military action in Syria, a more-or-less unrelated issue. Last Wednesday Schenker was finally approved by the Senate in an 83 to 11 vote.

      “Schenker has spent most of his time in Washington at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think-tank that supports the Israeli government. He began as an analyst after graduate school and his career exhibits the familiar neocon pattern of jumping between pro-Israel foundations and government jobs to build a resume and credibility. He served in the George W. Bush Pentagon, which was a hot bed of neocon subversion featuring Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith. And WINEP is no ordinary think-tank. It was founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. To describe WINEP as ‘supporting the Israeli government’ is an understatement.

      “When news of the Senate’s confirmation vote came through, WINEP Executive Director Robert Satloff enthused that ‘David Schenker’s career has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of U.S. Middle East policy, and it is only fitting he should now be the one enacting such policies at such a critical time for U.S. interests in the region.’ Satloff is right to gloat, as The Lobby that he is part of now has its nice Jewish boy in a senior position at the State Department where he will be ‘enhancing the quality’ of U.S. foreign policy for the Middle and Near East to favor Israel.

      “In a press release WINEP Institute President Shelly Kassen and Chairman Martin J. Gross also joined in, describing how ‘We are proud of the fact that David Schenker will be the latest in a long line of Institute experts to join the government in senior positions — in both Republican and Democratic administrations — to provide expertise on the Middle East.’

      “Yes, Schenker is clearly full of expertise, though it is odd how the government appears to think that expert opinion on the Middle East is an attribute belonging only to Jewish pseudo-scholars and think-tank parasites. It is expected that Schenker will not hesitate to get tough with the Arabs. In a September 2017 interview he emphasized the threat posed by ‘Hezbollah’s tunnels under the Israel-Lebanon border.’ And he believes that a future war between Israel and Hezbollah is ‘not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’ There is little doubt which side Schenker will be on, even if Benjamin Netanyahu starts the war.

      “There is an unfortunate history of American Jews closely attached to Israel being promoted by powerful and cash rich domestic lobbies to act on behalf of the Jewish state, enabling them to move between think-tanks and government almost effortlessly. To be sure, by virtue of their relentless networking and gaming of the system, Jews who are Zionists are vastly overrepresented in all government agencies that have anything at all to do with the Middle East. Meanwhile, one can also reasonably argue that the Republican and Democratic Parties are de facto in the pockets of Jewish/Israeli billionaires named Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, both of whom regard the advancement of Israeli rather than American interests as their top priorities.

      “What is to be done? Well, it would be nice, almost unbearably nice, to see the media and Congress just for once doing their jobs by challenging the bona fides of poseurs like Kushner, Friedman, Greenblatt and Schenker not to mention the demented trio of Pence, Pompeo and Bolton. It is not in the United States’ interest to have as its representatives and spokesmen in an important and highly volatile part of the world individuals who are demonstrated partisans on issues that that will surely require some compromise if they are ever to be resolved. Israeli leaders have described with a grin how easy it is to ‘move’ the United States in their favor by virtue of the power of their diaspora associates both in and out of government. Perhaps it is time to wake up to that fact to get rid of the Quislings and set the pendulum swinging in the other direction.”

      Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest

  2. Keith on June 16, 2019, 3:51 pm

    JAMES NORTH & PHILIP WEISS- “These readers have been well-educated by the last 20 years.”

    Since the US has been an empire for well over 100 years and has been engaged in a non-stop war against the entire Third World for over 70 years we may assume that Times readers are dense. Yes, the increase in imperial aggression during the last twenty years has been so obvious that it is hard to ignore. So, a bunch of “liberal” times readers blows off a little steam writing letters to the editor, so what? We are in the initial phase of World War III and things are going to get a lot worse.

    • Donald on June 16, 2019, 7:31 pm

      “we may assume that Times readers are dense. “

      I think that is closer to the truth than what Phil says. This batch of comments is good, but I read NYT comments fairly often and a great many, probably the majority, tend to be centrist liberals at best. Often they think anything bad that we do can be blamed solely on Republicans, or Trump, or even Trump and Putin.

      Actually, I recognize one of those names. This person is someone who was rightly outraged several months ago by Trump’s support of the Saudi war in Yemen, but did not know this started under Obama.

      Sometimes a given article or essay will attract a crowd of anti interventionists, which may have happened here, but no, I wouldn’t be as optimistic about the NYT readership as Phil.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 16, 2019, 11:05 pm

      → Since the US has been an empire for well over 100 years

      Since the first day, to be exact.

      → and has been engaged in a non-stop war against the entire Third World for over 70 years

      Correct. As you said, it’s a low-intensity World War III.

      → we may assume that Times readers are dense.

      Denseness explains part of it, but there’s also a lot of active collaboration, facilitated by a lack of concern for other people. When the US invaded Iraq, I was disgusted, though not surprised, to see that even the weak Yankee opposition was motivated almost entirely by its own selfish concerns: not spending «our» taxes on the adventure, putting «our» money to use for «us», not exposing «our» soldiers to harm. Few people in the so-called opposition even mentioned the Iraqis.

      Similarly, witness the comments quoted above. Someone referred to the 58 000 or so US soldiers who were killed during the Yankee imperialist invasion of Vietnam—but said nothing about some 7 million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians killed, not to mention the many more people who die or suffer injury because of the damage that the US caused with its munitions and chemical poisons. Someone else mentioned racking up trillions in debt for the US invasion of Iraq but said nothing about the damages that the US caused in Iraq. It’s as if only Yanks mattered. And in the eyes of many of them, that seems to be the case.

  3. RoHa on June 16, 2019, 5:52 pm

    I just tried the link. I got a message that the comments are not available, for technical reasons. I will heroically restrain myself from speculation about what those “technical reasons” might be.

    • RoHa on June 17, 2019, 8:32 am

      OK, the comments are back now, so maybe those reasons really were technical.

      I wonder why I am so paranoid?

      • Mooser on June 17, 2019, 5:52 pm

        “I wonder why I am so paranoid?”

        You don’t know? Once you disclaim the existential unity of mankind (“Euwww”, I believe, is the way you put it.) it’s pretty much 7.6 billion to one. No wonder you’re paranoid.

      • RoHa on June 17, 2019, 7:19 pm

        It’s not as bad as that, Mooser. I’m pretty sure that the 0.6 billion don’t care one way or the other.

        But I’m keeping a close eye on the 7 billion. They better not try any funny stuff.

      • Mooser on June 18, 2019, 5:55 pm

        Like the song says: ‘I am a rock, I am Long Island.’

  4. JWalters on June 16, 2019, 8:26 pm

    Thanks for this very interesting and hopeful article. It looks like a struggle is happening at the NYT. Thanks to the 1st Amendment and the internet it’s getting harder and harder for the war profiteering banksters to keep the people in the dark. Still, the situation remains dire, as explained lucidly by renowned UK journalist John Pilger, in this discussion of the “global war on journalism”.
    “The Global War on Assange, Journalism & Dissent”

    • RoHa on June 17, 2019, 8:32 am

      Maybe that’s why.

    • HarryLaw on June 19, 2019, 9:09 am

      The Moreno government will pay a heavy price for handing over Assange “The Galapagos Islands archipelago in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse regions in the entire world, home to a number of species found nowhere else on the planet, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
      So, naturally, the U.S. military wants to use one of its islands as an airstrip.
      Ecuadorian defense minister Oswaldo Jarrín announced President Lenín Moreno’s administration’s decision to allow the Pentagon to expand an existing airfield on San Cristobal Island for U.S. spy planes targeting drug traffickers in comments to Telesur on June 12. The airport is at the southwest end of the island in the city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno”.

      • HarryLaw on June 19, 2019, 9:13 am

        Add this to comment above. In his remarks, Jarrín [Minister of Defence] said that the Galapagos Islands are a “natural aircraft carrier because it ensures permanence, replenishment, interception facilities, and is 1,000 kilometers from our coasts.”

        That aircraft carrier could have an extended landing strip built on it to accommodate U.S. planes. Jarrín said that the Pentagon would pay for any needed “readjustments” to the airfield, raising concerns that Galapagos will be used as a permanent base for the U.S. military—a violation of Ecuador’s constitution, which says in Article Five that “the establishment of foreign military bases or foreign installations for military purposes will not be allowed. In addition, it is prohibited to cede national military bases to foreign armed or security forces.”

  5. brent on June 16, 2019, 11:10 pm

    Three ways forward:

    Let Public broadcasters know contributions will be held in reserve until they stop promoting war.

    Since it is near-universally recognized America was in error invading Iraq, push Congress for responsible reparations for Iraq.

    Push Congress to expect Israel to extend full freedom and civil rights to all its citizens.

  6. Citizen on June 17, 2019, 12:14 am

    So, who owns and/or controls the NY Times, again? Anybody got an update?

  7. Tuyzentfloot on June 17, 2019, 4:22 am

    the Gulf of Tonkin incident was itself a provocation. The ships were there in order to get shot at. (Damn, they’re not shooting. Whatever, we’ll go ahead anyway). So what if the Vietnamese had actually fired at the ships? Would everything be alright then?

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