[Marxism] Norman Solomon: New Media Offensive FOR the Iraq War

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 5 21:16:43 MST 2006


ZNet Commentary
The New Media Offensive for the Iraq War 
December 05, 2006
By Norman Solomon 

The American media establishment has launched a major offensive
against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the
Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest
firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media
real estate in the USA -- the front page of the New York Times.

The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might
wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion
polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of
midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful
media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S.
troops.

Under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say,"
the Nov. 15 front page of the New York Times prominently featured a
"Military Analysis" by Michael Gordon. The piece reported that --
while some congressional Democrats are saying withdrawal of U.S.
troops "should begin within four to six months" -- "this argument is
being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former
generals, including some who have been among the most vehement
critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policies."

Reporter Gordon appeared hours later on Anderson Cooper's CNN show,
fully morphing into an unabashed pundit as he declared that
withdrawal is "simply not realistic." Sounding much like a Pentagon
spokesman, Gordon went on to state in no uncertain terms that he
opposes a pullout.

If a New York Times military-affairs reporter went on television to
advocate for withdrawal of U.S. troops as unequivocally as Gordon
advocated against any such withdrawal during his Nov. 15 appearance
on CNN, he or she would be quickly reprimanded -- and probably would
be taken off the beat -- by the Times hierarchy. But the paper's news
department eagerly fosters reporting that internalizes and promotes
the basic worldviews of the country's national security state.

That's how and why the Times front page was so hospitable to the work
of Judith Miller during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. That's
how and why the Times is now so hospitable to the work of Michael
Gordon.

At this point, categories like "vehement critics of the Bush
administration's Iraq policies" are virtually meaningless. The bulk
of the media's favorite "vehement critics" are opposed to reduction
of U.S. involvement in the Iraq carnage, and some of them are now
openly urging an increase in U.S. troop levels for the occupation.

These days, media coverage of U.S. policy in Iraq often seems to be
little more than a remake of how mainstream news outlets portrayed
Washington's options during the war in Vietnam. Routine deference to
inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom has turned many prominent
journalists into co-producers of a "Groundhog Day" sequel that
insists the U.S. war effort must go on.

During the years since the fall of Saddam, countless news stories and
commentaries have compared the ongoing disaster in Iraq to the
Vietnam War. But those comparisons have rarely illuminated the most
troubling parallels between the U.S. media coverage of both wars.

Whether in 1968 or 2006, most of the Washington press corps has been
at pains to portray withdrawal of U.S. troops as impractical and
unrealistic.

Contrary to myths about media coverage of the Vietnam War, the
American press lagged way behind grassroots antiwar sentiment in
seriously contemplating a U.S. pullout from Vietnam. The lag time
amounted to several years -- and meant the additional deaths of tens
of thousands of Americans and perhaps 1 million more Vietnamese
people.

A survey by the Boston Globe, conducted in February 1968, found that
out of 39 major daily newspapers in the United States, not one had
editorialized for withdrawing American troops from Vietnam. Today --
despite the antiwar tilt of national opinion polls and the recent
election -- advocacy of a U.S. pullout from Iraq seems almost as
scarce among modern-day media elites.

The standard media evasions amount to kicking the bloody can down the
road. Careful statements about benchmarks and getting tough with the
Baghdad government (as with the Saigon government) are markers for a
national media discourse that dodges instead of enlivens debate.

Many journalists are retreading the notion that the pullout option is
not a real option at all. And the Democrats who'll soon be running
Congress, we're told, wouldn't -- and shouldn't -- dare to go that
far if they know what's good for them.

Implicit in such media coverage is the idea that the real legitimacy
for U.S. war policymaking rests with the president, not the Congress.
When I ponder that assumption, I think about 42-year-old footage of
the CBS program "Face the Nation."

The show's host on that 1964 telecast was the widely esteemed
journalist Peter Lisagor, who told his guest: "Senator, the
Constitution gives to the president of the United States the sole
responsibility for the conduct of foreign policy."

"Couldn't be more wrong," Sen. Wayne Morse broke in with his
sandpapery voice. "You couldn't make a more unsound legal statement
than the one you have just made. This is the promulgation of an old
fallacy that foreign policy belongs to the president of the United
States. That's nonsense."

Lisagor was almost taunting as he asked, "To whom does it belong
then, Senator?"

Morse did not miss a beat. "It belongs to the American people," he
shot back -- and "I am pleading that the American people be given the
facts about foreign policy."

The journalist persisted: "You know, Senator, that the American
people cannot formulate and execute foreign policy."

Morse's response was indignant: "Why do you say that? ... I have
complete faith in the ability of the American people to follow the
facts if you'll give them. And my charge against my government is,
we're not giving the American people the facts."

Morse, the senior senator from Oregon, was passionate about the U.S.
Constitution as well as international law. And, while rejecting the
widely held notion that foreign policy belongs to the president, he
spoke in unflinching terms about the Vietnam War. At a hearing of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Feb. 27, 1968, Morse said that
he did not "intend to put the blood of this war on my hands."

And, prophetically, Morse added: "We're going to become guilty, in my
judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world.
It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it."

_____________________________

Norman Solomon's latest book, "War Made Easy: How Presidents 
and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death," is out in paperback. For
information, go to: www.warmadeeasy.com







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