Nov
14
2012

Friedman Asks: Why Did Iraq Do That to George W. Bush?

Thomas Friedman

Some days it's not easy to make it through a Tom Friedman column. Take today (11/14/12), for instance. I got all the way to the second sentence: Virtually every American president since Dwight Eisenhower has had a Middle Eastern country that brought him grief. In case you're wondering, he really means every president: For George W. Bush, it was Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, why did those countries give the man so much trouble? For anyone trying to make it all the way through the column, I recommend letting Matt Taibbi walk you through the loopy Friedmanesque metaphors: Iraq is a […]

Oct
22
2012

U.S. Media Ignore Toxic Legacy of U.S. Weapons

Doctor examining a baby in a Fallujah hospital (photo: Larisa Epatko/NewsHour)

The London Independent published a harrowing story on October 14, "Iraq Records Huge Rise in Birth Defects." The piece focuses on the legacy of the U.S war in Iraq, in particular the two massive U.S. military invasions of the city of Fallujah in 2004.  The Independent reports: High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiraling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded. Even more disturbingly, they appear to be occurring at an increasing rate in children born in Fallujah, about 40 miles west of Baghdad. […]

Sep
27
2012

Don't Tell O'Reilly, but His Iran Blockade Idea Already Worked

Crooks & Liars (9/26/12) notes Bill O'Reilly is proposing a naval blockade of Iraq: Says O'Reilly: We're going to block it, nothing in, nothing out. OK? That's what we're going to do. And if you challenge the blockade, we'll do what we have to do like the Cuban missile crisis, same thing–not gonna do it, not gonna let your nukes in Cuba. Kennedy did that. Not gonna let your nukes in Iran. BANG! That's what we're gonna do. So you've either got to stop now and not force us to do it, because if you force us to do it, […]

Jul
30
2012

Pundit Accountability: What an Idea!

Writing in Newsweek, Peter Beinart has a pretty good idea: America's foreign-policy debate desperately needs some measure of accountability. I'm not suggesting that politicians and pundits who got Iraq wrong be banished from public life. (This standard would leave me looking for other work.) But neither should they be able to flee the scene of the disaster. Imagine if every time Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or John Bolton or John McCain or William Kristol was interviewed about military intervention in Iran or Syria, the interviewer began by asking what they've learned about the subject from their experience supporting the […]

May
24
2012

Chris Matthews and the Awesome Power of Cable Television

Here's the video of MSNBC host Chris Matthews speaking at a cable industry conference this week. We noted here the odd notion that, as Matthews argues, 24-hour cable news would have stopped the Iraq War lies–despite the fact that 24-hour cable news had been around for more than 20 years at the time of the invasion. But watching the video is rather jarring: Matthews' passionate critique of embedded, what-officials-say-is-OK-with-me journalism sounds like Amy Goodman. It's so fundamentally at odds with Matthews' actual work that you have to wonder whether he believes any of it. Of course, Matthews was speaking at […]

May
14
2012

Newsweek Enables Colin Powell's Iraq War Revisionism

Right before the United States invaded Iraq, Newsweek magazine published a remarkable story. Reporter John Barry revealed that former Iraqi weapons chief Hussein Kamel had told UN inspectors in 1995 that the country had destroyed its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. As FAIR pointed out at the time, this was a remarkable discovery, especially considering that Kamel's words had be used so often by U.S. officials to serve the opposite point–that Iraq still posed a dire threat.  As FAIR pointed out: According to Newsweek, Kamel told the same story to CIA analysts in August 1995. If that is true, […]

May
04
2012

Matthews Remembers Mission Accomplished (Some of It)

On Wednesday (5/2/12), MSNBC host Chris Matthews played a long clip from the Daily Show, where Jon Stewart mocked Republicans who are complaining about Barack Obama's celebration of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Stewart naturally recalls George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo op stunt from 2003.  Stewart points out that if Republicans are angry about Obama "spiking the football," Bush was spiking the ball before the game started. So the clip played, and then we cut to Matthews, chuckling away. Of course Stewart's point is right on–anyone who listens to this whining from the right is bound to recall […]

Mar
19
2012

Bill Keller Remembers the Downing Street Memos (Sort Of)

Bill Keller's New York Times column (3/19/12) begins with what might be a bit of self-deprecation: "When you've been wrong about something as important as war, as I have…." You might take that as a cue to stop reading right there. But Keller's point is that people should think long and hard about signing on to the latest calls for war. He writes: Sometimes our leaders start with the answers and work backward, fixing the facts to the policy, as the head of Britain's MI6 said of the Potemkin intelligence used to sell the invasion of Iraq. As the link […]

Mar
06
2012

The Iran Non-Debate, Continued…

Glenn Greenwald wrote recently of the extraordinarily limited media debate on Iran, which seems to consist of U.S. and Israeli officials making threats–attack now or attack later–alongside clinical discussions of the difficulties of bombing Iran. There is plenty missing–actual Iranians talking about what war would mean in human terms,legal experts discussing how preventive war (or even the threat of one) violates international law, and so on. Today's New York Times editorial (3/6/12) offers another illustration of just how limited this media discussion is. The paper states: Iran's nuclear appetites are undeniable, as is its malign intent toward Israel, toward America, […]

Feb
22
2012

James Traub Bids a Fond Farewell to an Era of Constant Warfare

James Traub seemed a little bummed in a Sunday New York Times op-ed ("The End of American Intervention?," 2/18/10), that military cuts and changing priorities will mean fewer humanitarian interventions in America's future. So we must accept, if uneasily, the future which now seems to lie before us: We will do less good in the world, but also less harm. A leading advocate of "humanitarian intervention," Traub doesn't waste many words on the "harm" produced the by two decades of them, but he seems pretty sure about the "good." For instance, he writes that the post-Cold War period "raised the […]

Feb
17
2012

Is Iraq Media Failure 'Coloring' Iran Coverage?

Huffington Post reporter Michael Calderone (2/17/12) has a fairly comprehensive lookat the way media are covering Iran (I wish he'd cited FAIR's long record on this; perhaps next time). The point is that Iran coverage looks a whole lot like Iraq coverage, circa 2002. Really bad, in other words. Calderone gets a pretty revealing comment from an insider: One national security reporter, who has covered the intelligence community and Iran but was not authorized to comment, says that pre-Iraq War coverage and recent Iran coverage are "terrifyingly similar." "I don't think we are falling totally back into where we were […]

Feb
15
2012

Newsweek and the 'War on Christians'

A cover that declares a "War on Christians" is bound to get some attention. Writing in the February 12 issue of Newsweek, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali's argument is just as blunt. Enough with all this talk "about Muslims as victims of abuse," because really it's the other way around: A wholly different kind of war is underway–an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm. To suggest that a genocide is underway is, of course, a serious charge. And […]

Dec
21
2011

Tom Friedman Not Sucking It on Iraq War

Today New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (12/21/11) gives readers a sense of what the Iraq War was all about: Iraq was always a war of choice. As I never bought the argument that Saddam had nukes that had to be taken out, the decision to go to war stemmed, for me, from a different choice: Could we collaborate with the people of Iraq to change the political trajectory of this pivotal state in the heart of the Arab world and help tilt it and the region onto a democratizing track? Huh. A collaborative effort with the people of Iraq? […]