FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Deadly Diplomacy

With 223 days left in his presidency, George W. Bush laid more flagstones along a path to war on Iran. There was the usual declaration that “all options are on the table” — and, just as ominously, much talk of diplomacy.

Three times on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports, Bush “called a diplomatic solution ‘my first choice,’ implying there are others. He said ‘we’ll give diplomacy a chance to work,’ meaning it might not.”

That’s how Bush talks when he’s grooving along in his Orwellian comfort zone, eager to order a military attack.

“We seek peace,” Bush said in the State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. “We strive for peace.”

In that speech, less than two months before the invasion of Iraq began, Bush foreshadowed the climax of his administration’s diplomatic pantomime. “The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world,” the president said. “Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi’s legal — Iraq’s illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.”

A week after that drum roll, Colin Powell made his now-infamous presentation to the U.N. Security Council. At the time, it served as ideal “diplomacy” for war — filled with authoritative charges and riddled with deceptions.

We should never forget the raptures of media praise for Powell’s crucial mendacity. A key bellwether was the New York Times.

The front page of the Times had been plying administration lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for a long time. Now the newspaper’s editorial stance, ostensibly antiwar, swooned into line — rejoicing that “Mr. Powell’s presentation was all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against Mr. Hussein’s regime.”

The Times editorialized that Powell “presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.” By sending Powell to address the Security Council, the Times claimed, President Bush “showed a wise concern for international opinion.”

Bush had implemented the kind of “diplomacy” advocated by a wide range of war enthusiasts. For instance, Fareed Zakaria, a former managing editor of the elite-flavored journal Foreign Affairs, had recommended PR prudence in the quest for a confrontation that could facilitate an invasion of Iraq. “Even if the inspections do not produce the perfect crisis,” Zakaria wrote the previous summer, “Washington will still be better off for having tried because it would be seen to have made every effort to avoid war.”

A few months later, on November 13, 2002, Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “in the world of a single, dominant superpower, the U.N. Security Council becomes even more important, not less.” And he was pleased with the progress of groundwork for war, writing enthusiastically: “The Bush team discovered that the best way to legitimize its overwhelming might — in a war of choice — was not by simply imposing it, but by channeling it through the U.N.”

Its highly influential reporting, combined with an editorial position that wavered under pressure, made the New York Times extremely useful to the Bush administration’s propaganda strategy for launching war on Iraq. The paper played along with the diplomatic ruse in much the same way that it promoted lies about weapons of mass destruction.

But to read the present-day revisionist history from the New York Times, the problem with the run-up to the Iraq invasion was simply misconduct by the Bush administration (ignobly assisted by pliable cable news networks).

Recently, when the Times came out with an editorial headlined “The Truth About the War” on June 6, the newspaper assessed the implications of a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The report shows clearly that President Bush should have known that important claims he made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports,” the Times editorialized. “In other cases, he could have learned the truth if he had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Unfortunately, changing just a few words — substituting “the New York Times” for “President Bush” — renders an equally accurate assessment of what a factual report would clearly show: “The New York Times should have known that important claims it made about Iraq did not conform with intelligence reports. In other cases, the Times could have learned the truth if it had asked better questions or encouraged more honest answers.”

Now, as agenda-setting for an air attack on Iran moves into higher gear, the mainline U.S. news media — with the New York Times playing its influential part — are engaged in coverage that does little more than provide stenographic services for the Bush administration.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of Made Love, Got War.

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail