The following was written on June, 2007. It's republished on Salon showing how misconceived and wrong about the war some of the top-notch commentators in the American media were that will haunt their reputations for ever after.
By Con George-Kotzabasis
When men’s pride swells in folly, then their tongues become their true accusers Aeschylus
It’s both interesting and revealing that the critics of the war in Iraq, and generally on the war against global terror, have never formulated their position in concrete and effective terms what should have been America’s response to the lethal attack of 9/11; an attack that was far from being an aberration but on the contrary threatened to be the order of the day for the United States and the rest of the civilized world. Other than the pious wishes of “containing” a religious fanatic enemy, whose godly agenda was to destroy the West, by the nostrums of non-belligerence and diplomacy and the abracadabra of the United Nations, and addressing the root causes of terrorism by benign economic means, the critics of the Bush administration never presented a realistic and feasible plan how to deal and confront the immediate threat that terrorism and its state supporters, such as Saddam’s regime--not to mention the Saudis whose second major export commodity to the West, after oil, is terror, through their financing of Mosques and Madrasas in the cities of the Western world--posed against Western civilization.
This cognitive absence of the war critics and of the media in the designation of a pragmatic strategic articulation of what America should have done toward the protection of its mainland and its people from the impending fanatic thrusts of a mortal foe, speaks volumes of their moral and intellectual effeteness and lack of imagination. As a compensation for their absence at this critical roll call of the times to “abort” the birth of global terror, they present themselves now, with the benefit of hindsight, as prophets who predicted the disastrous consequences that the war would have in Iraq and in the Middle East in general.
One such prophet or rather prophetess from The New York Times punditry, is the enchantingly charming Maureen Dowd. But like a scorpion whose nature is to bite she stings both Bush and Cheney with her sarcastic and vitriolic tongue. In her latest Op-Ed of the Times Bush’s Fleurs du Mal, with exquisite sweet phrases and metaphors that are like French éclairs, which for her diabetic readers consuming them would be deadly—but I guess it’s better to take leave of this world with a sweet tongue than a bitter one—she lambastes and drags Bush into her swamp of sarcasm by accusing him of being a “loop of sophistry,” and asserts that as a result of his war “terrorists moved into George Bush’s Iraq not…in Hussein’s,” implying that the latter had no links with terrorists nor did he support them--when there is ample and glaring evidence that he did, both in Sudan, during the short domicile of bin Laden in the country, and in the Palestinian territories--as well as insinuating, like so many other pundits, that it was Bush that gestated the increasing number of terrorists in Iraq by hopping in bed with the neocon architects of the war. Further with unparalleled flippancy she places Bush among “presidents who race to war because they want to be seen as hard, not soft”, using in this case the same sophistry that she accuses Bush of using, i.e., the war issued from the psychological and ideological malfunctions of the President and his entourage, and not from the geopolitical and national interests of the United States.
The “race” to war was not a display of machismo by the Bush administration, as Dowd avers, but a demonstration of political awareness and astuteness that the US and Western civilization were going to be locked in a long battle with a formidable, fiendish, and deadly foe. It was a race to prevent the future coupling of terrorists with rogue states that possessed weapons of mass destruction and nuclear ones whose use by the terrorists against the cities of the West would bring the end of Western civilization. That this threat is not a fairy tale but a real and continuous one has been lucidly illustrated by the recent arrests of the Islamist terrorists who were planning to blow up the JFK International Airport in New York, which according to the officials who apprehended the partly home-grown terrorists would have been much more devastating than the 9/11 attack.
The media as the fourth estate in a democracy, does not only protect its citizens from the abuses and the corrupt practices of governments and private corporations, but also from the threats of external and internal enemies who imperil the lives of its people and the vital interests of the nation. One would have expected therefore that in times of war, as the United States presently is engaged in fighting a mortal foe, the media’s primary responsibility would have been to unite Americans and rally them behind their government. And while not absconding for a minute from its responsibility to highlight and criticize the government’s fault lines in the conduct of the war, it must do this constructively and creatively with the aim of correcting the Administration’s mistakes, and not taking its eyes for a moment off the ball that this is a war that America definitively must win.
Regrettably and tragically what we see in the major outlets of the American media is a dereliction of its duty to unite its people in this major and critical war against global terror. The media is more interested in sensationalizing the negative parts of the war splashing on its pages and in the air its ugly and gory aspects instead of underlining the difficulties that arise from fighting an elusive, determined, and fanatic enemy. As if wars can be fought clinically without cruelty. War is the greatest atrocity of all and within its context it’s inevitable that some atrocities will be committed even by the best disciplined of armies, especially when the enemy appears and commits his murderous actions in civilian clothes whom those who fight him cannot identify before he commits his heinous action. And on this issue the media is locked in an illogical bind. While emphasizing the traumatic experiences that US soldiers—traumas that will probably carry for the rest of their lives-- are experiencing in this “ghostly” war, seeing their buddies killed by road bombs and by insurgents clad in civilian clothes, they expect these soldiers to remain cool and not to break their discipline under this enormous stress and pressure of this kind of war.
The American media has reneged itself from its moral, political, and intellectual responsibility to be objective about the real stakes of the war in Iraq, and sold its soul to populism and ratings. Its sotto voce position on the devastating consequences that a premature withdrawal from Iraq will have upon the prestige and the continued ability of the US as the sole superpower to provide stability and peace to the rest of the world is historically tragic and inexcusable. Demeaning its cognitive and intellectual power, it’s in a race to jeopardize and defeat the geopolitical and vital interests of the USA, led by the dowager of journalism the New York Times under the masthead, all the punditry that is fit to defeat America.