[Marxism] The truth behind the Pollack-O'Hanlon trip to Iraq

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 14 15:00:59 MDT 2007

The truth behind the Pollack-O'Hanlon trip to Iraq
An interview with Michael O'Hanlon highlights the scope and breadth of 
this P.R. fraud.

Glenn Greenwald

Aug. 12, 2007 | (updated below)

Last Wednesday, I interviewed Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings 
Institution regarding the trip he recently took to Iraq and the highly 
publicized Op-Ed in the New York Times about his trip, co-written with 
his Brookings colleague, Ken Pollack. The full transcript of the 
interview, which lasted roughly 50 minutes, can be read here.

O'Hanlon's answers, along with several other facts now known, 
demonstrate rather conclusively what a fraud this Op-Ed was, and even 
more so, the deceitfulness of the intense news coverage it generated. 
Most of the critical attention in the immediate aftermath of the media 
blitz focused on the misleading depiction of the pro-war Pollack and 
O'Hanlon as "critics of the administration." To his credit, O'Hanlon 
acknowledged (in my interview with him, though never in any of the media 
appearances he did) that many of the descriptions applied to him -- 
including Dick Cheney's claim that the Op-Ed was written by "critics of 
the war" -- were inaccurate:

     First, I think that to an extent, at least, it's certainly fair to 
go over a person's record when that person themself is being held up as 
playing a certain role in the debate. So while I'm not entirely happy 
with some of the coverage I've received here [on this blog] and 
elsewhere, I agree with the basic premise: that if I'm being held up as 
a "critic of the war", for example by Vice President Cheney, it's 
certainly only fair to ask if that is a proper characterization of me. 
And in fact I would not even use that characterization of myself, as I 
will elaborate in a moment.

Indeed, as I documented previously and as he affirmed in the interview, 
O'Hanlon was, from the beginning, a boisterous supporter of the invasion 
of Iraq. While he debated what the optimal war strategy was, once it 
became clear exactly what strategy Bush would use, O'Hanlon believed -- 
and forcefully argued -- that George Bush was doing the right thing by 
invading Iraq:

     As you rightly reported -- I was not a critic of this war. In the 
final analysis, I was a supporter.

He believed with virtual certainty that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD and 
that that fact constituted the principal justification for the invasion. 
In February, 2003, O'Hanlon wrote -- in a column entitled "Time for War" 
-- that the "president was still convincing on his central point that 
the time for war is near" and decreed that "it is now time for 
multilateralists to support the president." Not a single one of the 
television interviews Pollack and O'Hanlon gave about their Op-Ed 
included any reference to the fact that they were both supporters of the 
war and of the Surge.

Throughout 2003 and into 2004, O'Hanlon supported not only the war, but 
also Bush and Rumsfeld's occupation strategy. And while he began to 
argue -- just as did Bill Kristol and his neoconservative comrades -- 
that improvements were needed in Iraq due to the need for more troops, 
there was never a point, and there still is none, where O'Hanlon argued 
for withdrawal of troops or a timetable for withdrawal (though in 2004, 
he argued for a decrease in troop numbers). Then, in 2005, he argued for 
troop increases. At the beginning of this year, O'Hanlon (and Pollack) 
supported George Bush's and Fred Kagan's Surge plan.

Manifestly, then, to describe them as "aggressive critics of the Bush 
administration's handling of the war" or as "critics of the war" -- as 
virtually every media figure and pro-war pundit did with no correction 
-- is misleading in the extreme. In no meaningful sense is Michael 
O'Hanlon any more of a "strong critic of the administration" or 
"vigorous opponent of Bush's war policies" than Bill Kristol or Fred 
Kagan, who also frequently bickered over the administration's strategic 
choices, accused them of poor war management, and/or called for a 
greater troop presence.

While this entire group of "war scholars" continuously objected to 
various strategies executed along the way -- they always believed they 
harbored the undiscovered Perfect Plan for this war -- they were in the 
past and are now full-throated supporters of the invasion itself and 
Bush's subsequent occupation. They are full-fledged members of the small 
minority of Americans who have been pro-war since before the invasion 
and who continue to be. The contrary media depictions of O'Hanlon and 
Pollack (which they actively encouraged) were just pure fiction.

full: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/08/12/ohanlon/index.html

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