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
Friday, February 24, 2006  
After Neoconservatism

The New York Times
February 19, 2006

Blog editor's note: Evidently, the neoconservatives, who many credit with having brought us the Iraq war, have lost one of their star theorists. Fukuyama is author of "The End of History," which neoconservatives seized upon as intellectual justification for their world view following the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. As this piece indicates, Fukuyama has broken ranks.

As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.

The so-called Bush Doctrine that set the framework for the administration's first term is now in shambles. The doctrine (elaborated, among other places, in the 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States) argued that, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, America would have to launch periodic preventive wars to defend itself against rogue states and terrorists with weapons of mass destruction; that it would do this alone, if necessary; and that it would work to democratize the greater Middle East as a long-term solution to the terrorist problem. But successful pre-emption depends on the ability to predict the future accurately and on good intelligence, which was not forthcoming, while America's perceived unilateralism has isolated it as never before. It is not surprising that in its second term, the administration has been distancing itself from these policies and is in the process of rewriting the National Security Strategy document.

To read the full text, see New York Times Magazine

10:32 AM

Tuesday, February 21, 2006  
Why We Need Leakers

By Richard Cohen
Washington Post
February 21, 2006; A15

Who is he?

Does he rue the day when he picked up the phone, dialed the number, waited a ring or two -- and then quickly hung up. He called later that same day, this time getting a voice, and in panic hung up again. He had stuff to tell a reporter about how the Bush administration was distorting intelligence about Iraq, but he worried: Could the reporter protect his identity?

This person of my fervid imagination surely exists. In this country's vast intelligence bureaucracy, there had to be more than one person who knew the data were being cherry-picked, that conclusions were reached ahead of the facts, that the politically dexterous were being praised and the honestly skeptical were being ignored. But they kept their mouths shut and if they reached for anything, it was for the next file, not the phone.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's top guy for the Middle East during the run-up to the war in Iraq, speaks from retirement to show how the Bush administration selectively used intelligence. Among other things, the consensus at the CIA was that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. And while the spooks of Langley more or less concurred that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, they also thought his nuclear program was years away from fruition. In short, there was no urgent reason to go to war.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

12:08 PM

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