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US Media Split Over Intervening in Iraq (Again) | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

US Media Split Over Intervening in Iraq (Again)

Bombing in Iraq

A government building burns during heavy bombardment of Baghdad in March 2003. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

In a column yesterday I asked, “As Iraq Crumbles, Will US Media Back Obama Bomb Strikes?” As the day went on, as you know, things in that country went from worse to worst. And top news outlets here started weighing in, on their editorial pages or commentary, on the question.

Among the few to strongly oppose US intervention, at least for now, was The New York Times, which did so much in its news pages to help pave the way for the 2003 invasion. From an editorial posted late last night:

The United States has a strategic interest in Iraq’s stability and Mr. Obama on Thursday said America was ready to do more, without going into detail. But military action seems like a bad idea right now. The United States simply cannot be sucked into another round of war in Iraq. In any case, airstrikes and new weapons would be pointless if the Iraqi Army is incapable of defending the country.

Why would the United States want to bail out a dangerous leader like Mr. Maliki, who is attempting to remain in power for a third term as prime minister? It is up to Iraq’s leaders to show leadership and name a new prime minister who will share power, make needed reforms and include all sectarian and ethnic groups, especially disenfranchised Sunnis, in the country’s political and economic life—if, indeed, it is not too late.

On the other hand, Times columnist David Brooks in a new column blames most of the problem on… Obama. Of course, he leaves out the part about the Iraqis ordering us to get out. Brooks concludes: “The president says his doctrine is don’t do stupid stuff. Sometimes withdrawal is the stupidest thing of all.”

Fareed Zakaria at The Washington Post casts most of the blame on Maliki and concludes: “Washington is debating whether airstrikes or training forces would be more effective, but its real problem is much larger and is a decade in the making. In Iraq, it is defending the indefensible.” A columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Paul Whitefield, suggests Bush and Cheney should take care of the mess, since they caused it, but exactly how they’d do that remains a mystery.

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But that appears to be a minority view right now. The always-ready-for-war Washington Post called for action to halt an ISIS takeover: “Not to do everything possible to avert that outcome would be a dereliction, and one that Americans might greatly regret for years to come.” David Ignatius may draw laughs with his urging the US to convene a Middle East “peace conference” where Sunni and Shia would, you know, “reconcile.” John McTernan at The Guardian closes with this howler: “We have to go back to Iraq to rescue democracy. After all, as Margaret Thatcher said at the time of the Falklands, why else do we have armed forces?”

Representative John Boehner suggests Obama took a “nap” while Iraq crumbled and naturally ol’ reliable arch-hawk (arch and hawk) Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post claims Obama isn’t just napping, he’s “surrendering.” Michael Gerson also makes Obama the goat. And at the same site James Dubik argues that there are no good options—but, hey, the US must take action. The Wall Street Journal, what a surprise, slams Obama for the “Iraq Debacle.”

And yes, the expert on all things Iraq, Judy Miller is back!  And telling us she warned about all this, on Fox, natch (because Curveball told her?).  Here’s a roundup of Fox hawks calling for bombers or at least drones.

For context for all this, see my book (now in updated e-book edition) on the media failures for a decade of the Iraq war, So Wrong for So Long.

 

Read Next: William J. Astore explains how we all got drafted into the American national security state.

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