Tony Karon, who’s got a blogful of smart postings about the Bush Administration’s adventures in Iraq, outdoes himself with this really nice assessment of the media’s role in the runup to the Iraq War, and the parallels he sees today in making the case for attacking Iran:
Imagine, for a moment, that U.S. troops invading Iraq had, as they neared Baghdad, been fired on by an artillery unit using shells filled VX nerve gas — an attack that would have lasted minutes before a U.S. aircrew had taken out the battery, and may have brought a horrible death to a handful of American soldiers. Imagine, further, that the conquering troops had later discovered two warehouses full of VX and mustard gas shells. And later, that inspectors in a science lab had discovered a refrigerator full of Botulinum toxin or even anthrax.
The Administration and its allies in the punditocracy would have “proved” their case for war, and the media would have hailed President Bush as the kind of Churchillian visionary that he imagines himself to be. And goodness knows what new adventures the Pentagon ideologues would have immediately begun planning.
Now, ask yourself, had the above scenario unfolded and the “case for war” (on the terms accepted by the media and the Democrats) been proven, would Iraq look any different today? Would it be any less of a bloodbath; any less of a quagmire for U.S. troops; any less of a geopolitical disaster; any less of a drain on U.S. blood and treasure? Would the U.S. mainland or U.S. interests and allies worldwide be any safer today? In short, would the Iraq invasion seem any less of a catastrophic strategic blunder had the U.S. discovered some caches of unconventional weapons in Iraq?
The answer to all of those questions is obviously no.
And it’s from that point that we must begin our discussion on Iran, and the media’s role in preparing the American public for another disastrous war of choice. The “necessity” in the American public mind to go to war in Iraq was established through the mass media — a failure for which there has been precious little accounting. But that failure runs far deeper than is typically acknowledged even by critics: It was not simply a case of the media failing to properly and critically interrogate the spurious claims by the Administration of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction capability. Sure, even the likes of France and Germany suspected that Saddam may, in fact, have still had a few piles of chemical munitions left over from the Iran-Iraq war. The point, however, is that they did not see these as justifying a war. They recognized from the outset that invading Iraq would cause more problems than it would solve.
The more important failure of the U.S. media, then, is its failure to question the basic proposition that if Iraq had, indeed, had unconventional weapons, then an invasion and occupation of that country was a wise and prudent course of action.
The very idea that there are certain categories of weapons that draw down a red mist over rational discussion of geopolitical options is an exceedingly dangerous one — that should be one of the key lessons drawn from Iraq. And that’s exactly what’s being cooked up over Iran, too.
The very same crew of neocons and liberal hawks and the Israeli political establishment and its allies in Washington, are goading America to attack Iran. They insist Iran is going hell for leather to acquire nuclear weapons, and allowing it to do so represents a mortal threat to the West, Arab moderates and Israel. And just when a convenient excuse was needed for the U.S. failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, wouldn’t you know it, it’s those darn Iranians “interfering”. Don’t even think about discussing, what, are you Neville Chamberlain or something? Don’t you know it’s 1938 all over again?
Really, it’s one the smarter things you’ll read on the topic. What are thinking? Check it out now.