US journalist regrets his Iraq war support


This video from the USA is called WMD LIES – Bush Cheney Rumsfeld – THE ULTIMATE CLIP.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

New York Times’ Keller on Iraq: The confession of a “liberal” hawk

15 September 2011

Bill Keller, who gave up his post as executive editor of the New York Times this month, used the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks to publish a lengthy apologia for his support of the Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Entitled, “My Unfinished 9/11 Business: A Hard Look at Why I Wanted War,” the four-page spread in the newspaper’s Sunday magazine section fails to deliver on its promise. Rather than a “hard look,” he presents a pathetic alibi based upon his own “feelings” in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks and those of a whole political and social milieu of former liberals and ex-lefts.

One of Keller’s principal defenses is that he was part of a “large and estimable group” of pundits, which he thought of as the “I Can’t Believe I’m a Hawk Club.” Those he includes in this category, among others, are the TimesThomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek, the New Yorker’s George Packer and Jeffrey Goldberg, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, Andrew Sullivan, Paul Berman and Christopher Hitchens.

Establishing the self-absorbed tone that predominates throughout the piece, Keller begins by lamenting that the 9/11 commemorations honored only the victims and the heroism of first responders, while failing to memorialize the “feelings” that he and his peers experienced that day: “the bewilderment, the vulnerability, the impotence.”

This last “feeling” is a thread that runs throughout Keller’s essay. In the aftermath of 9/11, he tells us, his “prudent punditry soon felt inadequate.”

He blames his transformation into a war hawk in part on the birth of his daughter, saying that the urge “to do something—to prove something—was overriding a career-long schooling in the virtues of caution and skepticism.”

On the brink of the war, Keller says he was unable to grasp the arguments against it because he and other erstwhile liberals “were still a little drugged by testosterone. And maybe a little too pleased with ourselves for standing up to evil and defying the caricature of liberals as, to borrow a phrase from those days, brie-eating surrender monkeys.”

Is it credible that after all these years, Keller, the son of a former Chevron CEO, thinks it was all about testosterone, when everybody else knows it was all about oil? The three-letter word does not merit a mention.

Finally, he acknowledges that in hindsight the war against Iraq was “a monumental blunder,” but claims, “Whether it was wrong to support the invasion at the time is a harder call.” On balance, he concludes that he could have seen through the Bush administration’s rationale for the war had he “looked hard enough.” He didn’t do so, he says, because “I wanted to be on the side of doing something, and standing by was not enough.”

Taken as a whole, Keller’s confession is both infuriating and pathetic. One would hardly guess from the solipsistic fixation on his feelings that he is writing about a war that claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, killed over 4,000 US military personnel and left tens of thousands soldiers maimed and wounded. All of these victims, like his daughter, had parents who wanted to protect them. Unlike the executive editor of the New York Times, however, their feelings counted for nothing.

While playing no small part in foisting this illegal war onto the American people, Keller himself has not suffered in the slightest for this “monumental blunder.” Not surprisingly, not a few of the readers’ online responses to his piece questioned why it did not include his resignation.

But, of course, Keller is part of a social layer for whom accountability is virtually unknown. In 2005, it was reported that the Times executive editor was taking in an annual salary of $650,000, placing him squarely in the top 1 percent, where the resurgence of imperialist militarism finds its principal constituency.

Much of what Keller writes is grossly self-serving, if not simply dishonest.

Justifying his support for the war, he states, “We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding the kind of weapons that could rain holocaust on a neighbor or be delivered to America by proxy.”

If there is selective memory at work, it is Keller’s. Hans Blix, the head of the UN weapons inspection agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Scott Ritter, the former chief UN weapons inspector, all insisted that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Moreover, the very conception of “consensus” applies only to Keller and his fellow well-paid pundits, together with the ruling elite they serve. Masses of people all over the world rejected the claims of an Iraqi threat and marched in their tens of millions in February 2003, barely a month before the invasion. Presumably, Keller saw from his window at the New York Times building the more than half-a-million-strong crowd that filled the streets of New York City on February 15 to oppose the war. The Times did its best to conceal the scope and significance of these demonstrations.

Perhaps the most deceitful passage in Keller’s piece is the following: “… when the troops went in, they went with my blessing. Of course I don’t think President Bush was awaiting permission from the New York Times’s Op-Ed page—or, for that matter, from my friends in the Times newsroom, who during the prewar debate published some notoriously credulous stories about Iraqi weapons. The administration, however, was clearly pleased to cite the liberal hawks as evidence that invading Iraq was not just the impetuous act of cowboy neocons.”

Such false modesty! The Times, with its reputation as the “newspaper of record,” as undeserved as it may be, played a crucial role in the political and ideological preparation of the war against Iraq.

Keller discretely omits the names of his “friends” in the newsroom, though presumably the reference is to Judith Miller, who, in league with administration officials and right-wing think tanks, systematically promulgated the lies about WMD. Nor does he mention the role of Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, who produced column after column justifying what he happily called a “war of choice” against Iraq in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

USA: Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his new memoir, Five Chiefs, that the George W. Bush campaign’s 2000 appeal to the United States Supreme Court over the Florida recount was “frivolous” and never should have been granted: here.

Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA: here.

TAKING A LOOK AT THE PLAGIARISM OF FAREED ZAKARIA: “When I decided to write this month about the accusations of plagiarism swirling around global super-pundit and CNN host Fareed Zakaria, I did what any red-blooded, ink-stained American journalist would do. Although I’ve known Fareed for decades, I Googled him. Then I Wikipedia’d him, Factiva’d him, and LexisNexis’d him.” [Vanity Fair]

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18 thoughts on “US journalist regrets his Iraq war support

  1. Pingback: North Korea after Kim Jong-Il’s death | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Administrator on September 20, 2011 at 7:49 pm said:

    We can win this class war

    Many of us who helped build the biggest march in British history have discussed what would have been needed to stop Tony Blair joining George Bush in the attack on Iraq.

    In parliament there weren’t enough Labour MPs with a political backbone to vote against war—although plenty now say they were mistaken.

    Discontent within the armed forces was significant.

    Military Families Against the War was inspiring—but there was no mutiny in the British Army.

    The trade unions were central to the great mobilisations in opposition to the war. But most people marched with friends, family and neighbours—not as groups of workers or as part of trade union delegations.

    When the war started some workers did strike in protest.

    If workers had closed transport, education, factories or transport, Blair would not have been able to take the country to war.

    He was wobbling and had to be buoyed up by Bush and Rupert Murdoch.

    This year, the March for the Alternative on 26 March was smaller than the biggest anti-war marches.

    But here we saw the power of organised workers.

    The trade unions marched in blocks, and the mobilisations were centred on the workplaces, not communities.

    Building the biggest turnout for the march against the Tories in Manchester on 2 October is crucial.

    It can act as a springboard for a massive strike wave and a wider rebellion, strong enough to stop the war the Tories will be planning when they meet in Manchester for their conference.

    Their war on our class can be beaten by the power of our class if we act fight collectively and fight to win.

    Mark Krantz, Manchester

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=26142

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  3. Administrator on September 22, 2011 at 9:25 am said:

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
    —The opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

    In December 2002, when Truthout published my first translation from a French news source, it was the best of times: I had found a community of colleagues and readers who rejected participation in mainstream mendacity. But it was also the worst of times: I found myself alienated from friends, neighbors and family who had been terrified into accommodation with the attack on our civil liberties represented by the Patriot Act; the attack on our understanding represented by such repugnant neologisms as “the Homeland,” “unlawful enemy combatant” and “enhanced interrogation techniques”; and the attack on our fiscal, social and economic health represented by the 2001 tax cuts, the then-ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the looming war in Iraq.

    It was an age of wisdom: William Rivers Pitt and others at Truthout had already been questioning the distortions and lies so obligingly peddled by the mainstream media – and you, our readers, were already willing to fund our attempts to make people notice the empire had no clothes on. It was an age of foolishness: The New York Times peddled Judith Miller’s now-risible – had they not been so literally deadly – stenographic contentions about aluminum tubes and Saddam’s weapons of destruction; Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address highlighting the “Axis of Evil” was in preparation.

    It was the epoch of belief: public opinion bought the now-discredited claims about Guantanamo being reserved for the “worst of the worst,” rather than poor souls randomly netted for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the majority of its inmates have proven to be. It was the epoch of incredulity: most US citizens, still reeling from the 9/11 attacks of the year before, could not believe that their own president – even one “elected” by the Supreme Court – would so brazenly take advantage of the tragedies Bush called his “Trifecta” to impose policies that contravened the common good – from tax cuts skewed to the wealthy, to “Star Wars,” to NSA spying on US citizens, to the war in Iraq.

    It was the season of Light: anti-war protesters were already planning the massive February 15 global protest. It was the season of Darkness: the US and UK governments were already engaged in fixing “the intelligence and the facts … around the policy” so that war was inevitable, whatever Hans Blix and his inspection team did or did not find in Iraq.

    It was the spring of hope: the tiny team at Truthout was giddy with the sense of possibility, helping to create a new media unbeholden to corporate or other interests. It was the winter of despair: the anthrax poisonings of the year before remained a mystery, while the unprecedented collapse of Enron the year before – which decimated pension and retirement funds – had been followed by Global Crossing, Tyco and WorldCom bankruptcies.

    We had everything before us: Truthout was small, but growing and experimenting; we and our readers believed we could make a difference by exposing malfeasance and obfuscation in high places. We had nothing before us: the juggernaut of imperial overreach and decline continued to create its “own reality.”

    We were all going direct to heaven: the Bush administration’s multiple mouthpieces extolled American virtue and disinterested beneficence: we were liberating Afghan women from the burqa and about to free Iraqis from Saddam Hussein’s torture rooms. We were all going direct the other way: in the world of “either with us or against us,” critics of the regime, like Truthout, could expect vilification and marginalization.

    In short, the period was surprisingly like the present period when we – aided only by you, our readers, our contributors, our friends – continue our reality-based resistance to the imperial echo chamber, create an impact out of all proportion to our resources, and know that while our task will never be completed, neither may we ever desist.

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