Cheerleading for another war
This morning's editorial in the Intelligencer, "Anti-Terrorism Policy Flawed," once again blames the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for everything that has happened in the Mideast. Of course the editorial makes no mention of George W. Bush whose policies and totally senseless war against Iraq destabilized the entire region. Nor does it mention the part that Wheeling "newspapers" played as a cheerleader for that war. (I hope, at a certain point, to document how terribly wrong they were during that period.) No, as usual, it's all Obama's and Clinton's fault.
"The Onion" is the answer to the question "who could have predicted that this would have happened?"
In the run-up to the last Mideast war, there were not that many media outlets for accurate information about Iraq. The television networks, in the aftermath of 9-11, largely abdicated their responsibility to ask the tough questions that needed asking. The cable news networks toed the pro-war party line to the extent that they were indistinguishable from Fox News. (For example, MSNBC axed Phil Donahue because he questioned the war and CNN's Paula Zahn accused weapons inspector Scott Ritter of "drinking Saddam Hussein's Kool-Aid" for stating that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.) The nation's major newspaper's, especially the New York Times and the Washington Post, ran interference for the rush to war by publishing bogus information from the Bush Administration, especially Vice President Dick Cheney. (To their credit, both later issued "mea culpa's" for their role in starting the war - something our local "newspapers" never did.)
There were some voices in the media who called attention to the insanity -- most notably, Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, who consistently asked the kind of questions that the mainstream media ignored. On the Web, which was still getting its act together, some liberal bloggers also provided additional information that questioned the official party line.
Amidst the real sources was the fake newspaper, The Onion, which first published on the Web in 1996. Then, as now, The Onion satirizes both the news and the news sources that bring us the news. (Sometimes its brand of satire gets too close to reality -- it's news stories are occasionally picked up as real by other news services.)
I mention The Onion because the Huffington Post recently pointed to a very prophetic Onion article published just six days after the war with Iraq began (March 26, 2003 to be exact). The article satirized journalism's frequent use of the "two opposing viewpoints - he said, she said" method of framing a controversy (see USA Today's editorial page, for instance.). The premise for the article is that we are reading a debate about the consequences of the attack upon Iraq which had just begun. Read the original -- here's a sample from the anti-war side:
This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher. It will not end the threat of weapons of mass destruction; it will make possible their further proliferation. And it will not lay the groundwork for the flourishing of democracy throughout the Mideast; it will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence.
If you thought Osama bin Laden was bad, just wait until the countless children who become orphaned by U.S. bombs in the coming weeks are all grown up. Do you think they will forget what country dropped the bombs that killed their parents? In 10 or 15 years, we will look back fondly on the days when there were only a few thousand Middle Easterners dedicated to destroying the U.S. and willing to die for the fundamentalist cause. From this war, a million bin Ladens will bloom.
The pro-war speaker responds:
No it won't.
It just won't. None of that will happen.
You're getting worked up over nothing. Everything is going to be fine. So just relax, okay? You're really overreacting.
Yes, The Onion was very right (and so was John Stewart) but the Bush Administration had successfully marginalized most of its critics while the mainstream media, for the most part, either went along or simply remained silent.
Let's see what happens this time.