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by Terry Michael | March 19, 2010

Elective Wars.


Brought to you with a little help
from our friends in the MainStreamMedia.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) let his anger get the best of him recently, when he exploded at America’s press for obsessing on a disgraced congressman while blood and treasure is spilled for a corrupt U.S. client government in Afghanistan.  But Kennedy got it mostly right, despite his over-the-top angry tone.

Years ago, America’s now decimated newspapers and broadcast news divisions shut down all but a handful of foreign bureaus, leaving international coverage to flag-waving Cable TV anchors, embedding themselves with troops to market their “shows.” American journalism has scant resources--and even less will--to investigate foreign affairs.

With military boosterism substituting for intelligent foreign policy coverage, America’s mainstream media has made itself the propaganda organ for a phony bi-partisan, military and congressional industrial complex.

“I talk to myself because I like dealing with a better class of people.”  Jackie Mason's Borscht Belt humor sums up the Washington echo chamber control of keys to the foreign policy temple, open to a few Democratic and Republican congressional and think tank “experts,” plus a cadre of neo-conservatives who populate cable babble punditry and op-ed pages read by official Washington and its press corpse (sic.)

It takes no imagination to see how the “liberal” Washington Post  circumscribed discourse in the run-up to the Iraq War and drove a non-debate about Afghanistan.  The appropriate aphorism is, “He who controls terms of a debate leverages its outcome.”  Two names come to mind as controllers of the foreign policy “debate” inside the Washington establishment:  the neoconservative editor of The Washington Post editorial page, Fred Hiatt, and his neo-con deputy editor, Jackson Diehl.

Conservatives used to deride the Post as "Pravda on the Potomac."  Now they have two of their own driving the sheep-like herd of Beltway policy makers and pundits.  Hiatt and Diehl  have stacked the Post 's so-called “op-ed” page with a bevy of neo-con artists.

Chief among them, Charles Krauthammer, with neo-con bona fides reflected in his Wikipedia biography, noting his 2004 'Democratic Realism' speech, when he won the “Irving Kristol Award.”  Krauthammer also writes for The Weekly Standard, edited by Bill Kristol, son of the late godfather of neoconservatism, for whom is named Krauthammer’s commendation--neo-con self congratulation.

Bill Kristol is a Republican political hack, pretending to be a public intellectual.  Bounced from The New York Times op-ed page last year, Kristol received a consolation prize from Hiatt, a monthly Post column.

Also writing monthly for the Post ’s one-sided foreign policy opinion page is neo-con cheerleader Robert Kagan, of the poorly-named Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  His most recent column: “On foreign policy, Obama and the GOP find room for agreement.” Yes, "bi-partisan" agreement, indeed--formulated by the militarist Republican Party’s tiny but influential neoconservative branch and the Neo-Con Lite Democratic war boosters, obfuscating relationship to the military-congressional complex by calling themselves “liberal internationalists.”

In that March 5 Post screed, Kagan wrote: “Democrats who look back fondly to the days of George H.W. Bush forget that they voted overwhelmingly against the Persian Gulf War...Today, by contrast, the administration and opposition largely agree on some of the most pressing issues. [F]oreign policy is one area where the government is working.” It has worked really well for the neo-cons, who in 2002 enlisted “liberal” prospective presidential candidates Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, who feared they wouldn’t look tough if they resisted the blank check for the elective war into which Bush-Cheney scared the country.  It took "anti-war" Obama only months to be co-opted into the phony bi-partisanship of the military-congressional industry, which has insinuated itself as a jobs program into every state and district.

Briefly playing  good “liberal” cop to Obama’s dithering bad cop in the kabuki theatrical Afghan policy review, Biden received a pat on the back for his good behavior from Kagan: “[W]e may be seeing reestablishment of the...alliance between liberal interventionist Democrats and hawkish internationalist Republicans that provided working majorities throughout much of the Cold War and...Clinton years. In the 1990s, Joseph Biden was a card-carrying member of this coalition...[and] Biden's willingness to take ownership of Iraq today may be a signal that the pendulum is swinging back again.”

Kagan also blessed President Woodrow Obama: “Nothing would do more to cement bipartisan support...than a return to the old American tradition of making the world safer for democracy.”

Rounding out Fred Hiatt’s stable of neo-cons is the self-promoting big government conservative and former Bush speech writer, Michael Gerson.  Talk about rewarding incompetence!

Of course, Hiatt would point to his token op-ed liberals, Progressive Era throwback, E.J. Dionne, and self-described “democratic socialist” Harold Meyerson, both of whom write almost exclusively about domestic affairs.

The Post hasn’t been alone in neo-con stacking of the policy deck.  David Brooks and Tom Friedman were New York Times war boosters. Friedman, darling of establishment moderate Democrats, has penned countless weasel words to square his early war-making drum beats with unfolding reality.  Recently, he all but declared Iraq a success, arguing: “I only care about one thing:  that the outcome in Iraq be...forward-looking enough that those who have actually paid the price--in lost loved ones or injured bodies....see Iraq evolve into something that will enable them to say that whatever the cost, it has given freedom and decent government to people who had none.”  

Well, isn’t that special. Worthy of neo-con accolades.
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Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael tries to teach college journalists not to mimic their baby boomer MSM bosses. His “thoughts from a libertarian Democrat” are at www.terrymichael.net.

Writer's Note to Readers: This argument in no way disparages some excellent reporting in the news pages of both the Post and the Times. But the identity of a great newspaper is, in significant measure, a function of its editorial and op-ed pages.

 



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