One point that I’ve heard [Richard] Perle make really sticks with me. The emphasis on WMDs was largely the result of lawyers at the State Dept. thinking that was the only “legal” reason we could go to war. Perle didn’t reference it directly, but remember the whole kerfuffle about Paul Wolfowitz’s interview with Sam Tanenhaus in which he divulged that the emphasis on WMD above all else was largely due to “bureaucratic” pressures from inside the US government. This, predictably, was distorted into proof that neocon ideologues were lying about the real reasons for the war. But that wasn’t what he was saying at all.
Anyway, my point is this: to the extent the post-Iraq failure to find WMDs is a disaster for the United States in terms of its credibility, its relationships with allies etc. one could argue that the fault lies in the fact that George W. Bush listened too much to Colin Powell and the State Department instead of the hawks, since it was the Wolfowitz crowd which wanted to emphasize freedom, democracy, stability and the war on terror. Now that no WMDs have been found that rhetoric seems self-serving when in fact those were co-equal priorities all along.
This is a reason some of us who supported the invasion of Iraq didn’t pay much attention to President Bush on the issue. I thought there were WMDs in Iraq and that it was an important reason for invading. However, WMD was not only the sole reason for me, it wasn’t even the best reason. The best reason is the one that’s causing places like Libya giving up its WMD program.
Claims that dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, had taken bribes to support Saddam Hussein are to be investigated by the Iraqi authorities. The US-backed Iraqi Governing Council decided to check after an independent Baghdad newspaper, al-Mada, published a list which it said was based on oil ministry documents.
Ooooh, that’s gotta hurt!
The BBC must back Andrew Gilligan or face an industrial dispute by its journalists, the head of the National Union of Journalists warned today as it emerged that the BBC reporter will face strong criticism in Lord Hutton’s report.
The NUJ president, Jeremy Dear, said the union would take “whatever action is necessary” to protect Gilligan and cautioned the corporation against sacking or even disciplining its correspondent.
“Our reaction would be to immediately back him, to represent him at any subsequent hearings, and to argue with our members that they should take whatever action is necessary to protect his position,” he told the al-Jazeera website. [emphasis added]
The fellow journalists backing Gilligan released their news through Al-Jazeera? Well, at least it’s not as biased as the BBC.
“Any investigative journalist performing a public service has to feel that they are being supported. The worst thing that could come out of the Hutton report would be for journalists to become timid in the face of government attempts to manipulate the news agenda.”
Yes, we must preserve the manipulation of the news agenda to journalists only.
Bottom line: UK PM Tony Blair’s government committed a few minor transgressions while the BBC lied, stonewalled and distorted. It’s a near complete victory for Blair and a massive (some say “final”) blow to the BBC’s credibility. Blair has now gone on the offense:
The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie. And I simply ask that those that made it and those who have repeated it over all these months, now withdraw it, fully, openly and clearly.
It’s a win-win for Blair, as the BBC must either apologize or leave Blair with a huge stick to beat them with when they get out of line.
In another summary,
A French attempt to lift the European Union arms embargo against China was rejected by ministers yesterday amid concern over Beijing’s human rights record and belligerent attitude to Taiwan. […]
A French attempt to lift the European Union arms embargo against China was rejected by ministers yesterday amid concern over Beijing’s human rights record and belligerent attitude to Taiwan.
Well, those weapons that aren’t going to Iraq anymore need to go somewhere or France will miss its EU budget requirements again. Besides, where is French foreign policy if it’s not arming and coddling mass murdering dicatorships?
Instapundit makes a very good point:
Is there any profession that’s worse at admitting mistakes and taking criticism than the journalistic profession?
The stereotype of the military is that they are constantly fighting the last war and are resistant to change. Yet, the various war colleges and service schools set to work analyzing Vietnam while the fighting was still going on. The mistakes and lessons were not swept under the rug. New doctrine was developed and all officers educated accordingly. All this happened while the draft was ended and the defense budget reduced in real terms.
My question is, how many J-schools focus on what went right and wrong with war reporting in SE Asia? Do any of them discuss how the military victory of Tet ‘68 was portrayed as a military defeat for the US and why this mistake was made? Do any of them remind students that it was an armored blitzkrieg from NV, not a peasant uprising which doomed Saigon in 1975?
I sometimes think that the biggest danger of war reporting is the journalist’s selfish motive to be defeatist. Back in April I put it this way:
What is not often discussed is how professional ambitions make journalists defeatists. When wars go well, the uniformed military receives the praise. It is they who enter into history. We remember Nimitz and Patton, not the correspondents who wrote dispatches about the victories at Midway and Bastogne.
In contrast, Vietnam made the careers of David Halberstam, Seymour Hersch, and Neil Sheehan. Exposing military failure and atrocities makes the journalist the hero not the chronicler. It is a powerful temptation, one which could cause a reporter to lose proportion and distort the meaning of events. Yet this is not something that seems to get discussed much.
But journalists have direct access to Truth!