A preening press and its Iraq hypotheticals

May 24, 2015

RubioIraqWallaceMay2015 There’s a new parlor game making the rounds with the political reporting class.

An interviewer sits down with a 2016 Presidential hopeful, highlights the chaos in the Middle East and pivots to: “Knowing what we know now, was it a mistake then to invade Iraq”?

The premise being that it’s a straight, simple line from the current conflagrations to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the “Bush lied, people died” sound bite.

Anchor Chris Wallace on his Fox News Sunday show last week got so irritated with Senator Marco Rubio not answering in the expected manner that he turned the interview into a “Who’s on First?” Abbot and Costello routine.  Interrupting Rubio over half a dozen times trying to force him to acquiesce to the accepted meme.

But such a simple analogy ignores the years of Saddam Hussein rebuking U.N. weapons inspectors, shooting at U.S. jets enforcing the No Fly Zone, a corrupted “oil for food” program flowing cash directly into Saddam’s pockets and conveniently fails to mention that every other allied intelligence agency at the time also believed that Hussein had WMD’s.

Newsflash for the revisionists:  We did not lose the war, we lost the peace.  The toppling of Saddam Hussein was welcomed and cheered by Iraqi’s that had been subjected to his brutality.

Bush’s greatest mistake was in not the invasion itself, but in giving Paul Bremer and Donald Rumsfeld free reign to muck it up.

The moment Bremer banned all forms of Hussein’s ruling Ba’ath party and dissolved, rather than worked with, the defeated Iraq army, the die was cast.  Even after the atrocities of WWII American occupiers in Germany used former Nazi’s to run civil services until competent replacements could be found.

In the end, Tweedledee and Tweedledum were removed, the Petraeus led surge succeeded and Barack Obama took office with American troops once again having secured the peace.

In 2010, Vice President Joe Biden even bragged to Larry King that “It [Iraq] could be one of the greatest achievements of this administration”.  In December, 2011, just weeks before he would precipitously withdraw all American troops from Iraq, President Obama declared that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq”

Since then we’ve had a “leading from behind” strategy that has turned Libya into a terrorist playground, 4 American dead in Benghazi, a “red-line” in Syria that told the world America’s word is to be trusted no more, the ISIS  “JV” team now in control of Fallujah, Mosul and Ramadi and an administration rushing head long into a nuclear deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

No, the hell storm engulfing the Middle East today is not a straight line back to 2003, but rather the result of one mistake after another since 2009.

The forces of evil have not been this emboldened since the late 1930’s.

Who America chooses as POTUS 45 will determine whether those forces will continue to be appeased or whether they will be stopped before a WWIII makes WWII look like a training exercise.

Tomorrow marks this nation’s 147th Memorial Day.  A day for solemnity and remembrance for the more than 1.3 million Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice that the quintessential American ideal of a free people with free speech and a free press be not abridged.

If there is an ounce of respect left for the sacrifices that have been made for the special privileges afforded journalists in American society they will cease with the hindsight hypotheticals and get back to doing the job the Founders intended:  serious questions, demanding serious answers for serious times.

Or in other words; stop preening for the peers and start reporting for the public.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the May 24, 2015 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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