Jim Hoagland Misses the Point
Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post, who is one of the pre-eminent foreign affairs writers for a major newspaper in this country, has a column today that clearly points out why BushCo gets away with the lies that they do. In his column Hoagland states that if Bush was wrong about Iraq’s WMDs, then he had company because Schroeder and Chirac both also thought that Iraq had WMDs. Hoagland goes on to state that the American people have shown a good common-sense ability to sort through the claims and reasons for war.
As a simple blogger without the experience traveling in foreign affairs circles that Hoagland has, allow me to say that Hoagland and his column are wrong and emblematic of what is wrong with the bullied media Bush gets to manipulate in this country.
The French president and German chancellor were briefed by their own intelligence chiefs and given assessments that closely matched the conclusions of Powell's presentation, reliable sources tell me. The argument with Washington, as French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin made clear at the time, was over the best way to find and get rid of the weapons -- not whether they existed. If Bush was wrong, so were Chirac and Schroeder.
Aside from not knowing who Hoagland’s reliable sources are (if they are US, then why does Hoagland bother, and if not, why doesn’t he name them?), he misses the point about one of the major disagreements between the “coalition” and the others that Bush is criticizing: did Saddam’s WMDs capability pose an imminent threat? Hoagland never addresses this issue at all in his column.
He also never addresses the infamous soiling of American reputation that was the Colin Powell presentation to the UN on the alleged Niger aluminum tubes fiasco, and the fact that it was the overseas media, and not people like Hoagland who exposed this deceitful campaign right away. Instead, he comes up with a weird attack from the Rove playbook on how to argue by misdirecting:
Some critics now saying just that originally blasted Bush for offering too many reasons for going after Saddam Hussein instead of relying on one overriding cause. The very multiplicity proved -- or so it was asserted -- that regime change was the real motive for the war, not weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian intervention or terrorist links. Now the same people are shocked that they got it.
Mr. Hoagland, I think you missed the point. No matter how many reasons they have given, can you point to one so far, whether it be WMDs, Saddam and Al Qaeda, or humanitarian intervention, that has been supported by facts or Bush actions yet? I mean, if it was to be humanitarian intervention for example, would we not have been better prepared to alleviate suffering and occupy the country than we have? Besides, it does seem that the only thing we have been well-prepared for is to take over the oil fields and resume production of oil as soon as possible does it not? I mean, we were better prepared to do that than we have been to date on getting the water, food, garbage, law and order, and health care going, have we not?
Secondly, Hoagland states:
The American public has shown a steady ability to sort through news, propaganda and self-serving embellishment, usually without mistaking any or all of them for unalloyed, revealed "truth." You won't find truth in that pure a form in a newspaper or an intelligence report.
You find truth only in common sense -- in the process of comparing and analyzing information yourself and then applying your life experiences to it to see where, how or even if it fits into the larger scheme of things. Americans by and large did and continue to do just that about Bush and Iraq.
Yet after saying that, he ignores one major fact that undercuts his argument here. How does such a faith in the ability of the common-sense American public explain the fact that before and now even after the war a majority of Americans still feel that Saddam was behind 9/11 and had strong ties to Al Qaeda?
The truth is that Americans today are just as ignorant and uncaring about what goes on beyond our borders as they were on September 10, 2001. A majority of Americans cannot tell you what is actually going on in Iraq, or how bad things are starting to dissolve there or in Afghanistan. And they still feel that Saddam was behind 9/11. Hoagland cannot confront this because in order to do so, he would have to dwell on the reasons behind it, and that would involve admitting that the Bush Administration and right-wing media empires lied about this war and continue to hardball guys like him into going along with it. It would require him to self-analyze why his overseas peers are so diametrically different in their analyses of the Administration’s claims and lies, and rationale for the war as compared to the bullied Washington Post and New York Times. And it would also require guys like Hoagland to go after the right-wing media’s drumbeat for war and their manipulation of falsehoods into facts to convince his underinformed readership that Saddam was behind 9/11 and had the means to launch WMDs within 45 minutes of an attack against Iraq.
So instead Hoagland writes a column on the virtues of the common-sense American public and tars Schroeder and Chirac as being similarly wrong about Hussein’s WMD capabilities without mentioning the imminent threat issue.
Mr. Hoagland, guys like you and Tom Friedman have the means and megaphone to better inform Americans and expose the lies of the Bush Administration, and the destruction of our democracy by the right-wing media working in harmony with a cabal inside the government.
Many people are counting on you to do so.