Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.


William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

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War, Peace, and the Mass Media
 
Wednesday, May 11, 2005  
Smoking Gun Memo?
Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media


Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
5/10/05

Journalists typically condemn attempts to force their colleagues to disclose anonymous sources, saying that subpoenaing reporters will discourage efforts to expose government wrongdoing. But such warnings seem like mere self-congratulation when clear evidence of wrongdoing emerges, with no anonymous sources required-- and major news outlets virtually ignore it.

A leaked document that appeared in a British newspaper offered clear new evidence that U.S. intelligence was shaped to support the drive for war. Though the information rocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign when it was revealed, it has received little attention in the U.S. press.

The document, first revealed by the London Times (5/1/05), was the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting in Blair's office with the prime minister's close advisors. The meeting was held to discuss Bush administration policy on Iraq, and the likelihood that Britain would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided," the minutes state.

To read the full text, see FAIR

7:52 PM

 
They Lied to Us

By Molly Ivins
AlterNet
May 11, 2005

Editor's note: As Ms. Ivins notes in her column, "[This] memo was a huge story in Britain, but is almost unreported here. See next item by FAIR.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq. I was going to leave out of this column everything about how we got into Iraq, or whether it was wise, and or whether the infamous "they" knowingly lied to us. (Although I did plan to point out I would be nobly refraining from poking at that pus-riddled question.)

Since I believe one of our greatest strengths as Americans is shrewd practicality, I thought it was time we moved past the now unhelpful, "How did we get into his mess?" to the more utilitarian, "What the hell do we do now?"

However, I cannot let this astounding Downing Street memo go unmentioned.

On May 1, the Sunday Times of London printed a secret memo that went to the defense secretary, foreign secretary, attorney general and other high officials. It is the minutes of their meeting on Iraq with Tony Blair. The memo was written by Matthew Rycroft, a Downing Street foreign policy aide. It has been confirmed as legitimate and is dated July 23, 2002. I suppose the correct cliché is "smoking gun."

To read the full text, see AlterNet

7:29 PM

Tuesday, May 10, 2005  
Apocalypse Soon

By Robert S. McNamara
Foreign Policy
May/June 2005

Blog editor's note: Robert McNamara, of course, was Sec. of Defense for JFK during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and can be assumed to know something about nuclear weapons and foreign policy. According to Foreign Policy, "Today, he believes the United States must no longer rely on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. To do so is immoral, illegal, and dreadfully dangerous." The questions for students interested in war, peace and the mass media are twofold: How much coverage in mainstream media will McNamara's article receive and how much coverage will media accord the Bush administration's push to maintain what McNamara convincingly portrays as an irrational policy?

It is time—well past time, in my view—for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power—a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current U.S. nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

Today, the United States has deployed approximately 4,500 strategic, offensive nuclear warheads. Russia has roughly 3,800. The strategic forces of Britain, France, and China are considerably smaller, with 200–400 nuclear weapons in each state’s arsenal. The new nuclear states of Pakistan and India have fewer than 100 weapons each. North Korea now claims to have developed nuclear weapons, and U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that Pyongyang has enough fissile material for 2–8 bombs.

How destructive are these weapons? The average U.S. warhead has a destructive power 20 times that of the Hiroshima bomb. Of the 8,000 active or operational U.S. warheads, 2,000 are on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched on 15 minutes’ warning. How are these weapons to be used? The United States has never endorsed the policy of “no first use,” not during my seven years as secretary or since. We have been and remain prepared to initiate the use of nuclear weapons—by the decision of one person, the president—against either a nuclear or nonnuclear enemy whenever we believe it is in our interest to do so. For decades, U.S. nuclear forces have been sufficiently strong to absorb a first strike and then inflict “unacceptable” damage on an opponent. This has been and (so long as we face a nuclear-armed, potential adversary) must continue to be the foundation of our nuclear deterrent.

To read the full text, see Truthout.org

10:08 AM

 
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