Saturday June 16, 2007 08:05 EST
It is, I
believe, a positive development that The New York Times today has a front-page article
documenting how active the debate is inside the Bush administration over
whether to attack
The essence of the article is this:
The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney's office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The narrative is identical, of course, to the pre-Iraq-war "debate" which the media so vocally dramatized, with Secretary Rice in the role of reluctant warrior formerly played by Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney reprising his role of unabashed warmonger. It is true that there have been some personnel changes since then (most notably, Robert Gates in the place of Donald Rumsfeld), but George W. Bush is still the Decider, and he has not exactly been ambiguous about his views on the proper resolution of such "debates." As he told a group of right-wing pundits in October 2006: "I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions."
article tells the
beyond its nuclear program,
that the numerous claims here are presented not as assertions, not as
arguments, but as facts. And they are not even accompanied by the qualification
that these were asserted by the article's anonymous "administration
officials." Rather, they are simply stated, by the Times itself,
as unquestionable facts. And they are obviously inflammatory "facts,"
as they depict
But so many of the "facts" here are, at the very least, questionable. While some U.S. officials have accused Iran of arming Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, Iran has categorically denied that accusation, and, as that same article reported, even Robert Gates refused to confirm the allegation with anywhere near the level of certainty that the Times bestowed this morning on this claim.
Indeed, the Times itself even reported last week: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that Iranian weapons were being smuggled into Afghanistan and into the hands of Taliban fighters, but that it was unclear whether Iran's government was behind the arms shipments." Contrast that caution from Bush's own Defense Secretary with the unambiguous claim of the Times today that Iran is "inflaming the insurgencies in . . . Afghanistan."
And then there
is the claim that
The same is
true for the claim that
And then there are the multiple vital facts which the article does not include, beginning with the highly provocative steps the U.S. has taken towards Iran -- from our reported support for groups inside and outside of their country seeking regime change to our detention of multiple Iranian officials in Iraq to our military attacks on an Iranian consulate in Iraq to the administration's wholesale rebuffing of Iranian efforts to negotiate all issues of dispute back in 2003 (a step which, quite predictably, accelerated Iran's enrichment efforts).
And that is to say nothing of the increasing overt war threats emanating from the likes of Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, the song merrily sung by John McCain about bombing their country, and the multiple military maneuvers undertaken by the U.S. with the clear intent of threatening Iran.
And four years
ago, we put them on a short list of "evil" countries, alongside
questions such as whether we ought to be doing any of that, whether such
actions are justified, whether
Yet the Times
article contains none of that. It presents a view of
While this article is not the worst one ever written -- it at least quotes U.N. official Mohamed ElBaradei (but no American) as arguing that "military action against Iran would 'be an act of madness'" -- and while its focus is on describing the internal administration debate rather than the U.S.-Iran conflict itself, it nonetheless presents a starkly one-sided view of this critically important issue.
about nitpicking facts or insisting upon political arguments to be included in
news articles. It is quite clear that, at some point over the next 12 months,
we are going to confront the issue of whether we should commence a war against
Articles such as the one today from the NYT clearly have the effect -- whether intentionally or otherwise -- of fundamentally skewing the issues by depicting Iran as an unprovoked enemy waging war on the U.S. and by excluding the many steps we have taken to heighten the likelihood of such a war. If this is how the media is going to report on the potential U.S.-Iran war, I'd say the odds of that conflict occuring are quite high.