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
Thursday, March 16, 2006  
War-Loving Pundits

By Norman Solomon
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Thursday 16 March 2006

Blog editor's note: On the eve of the third anniversary of the start of the 2003 war with Iraq, media critic Norman Solomon raises some disturbing questions about what mainstream columnists and commentators had to say during the run-up. But if the past is any indication, most pundits likely will follow Kant's advice: "Never apologize, never explain." )

The third anniversary of the Iraq invasion is bound to attract a lot of media coverage, but scant recognition will go to the pundits who helped to make it all possible.

Continuing with long service to the Bush administration's agenda-setting for war, prominent media commentators were very busy in the weeks before the invasion. At the Washington Post, the op-ed page's fervor hit a new peak on February 6, 2003, the day after Colin Powell's mendacious speech to the UN Security Council.

Post columnist Richard Cohen explained that Powell was utterly convincing. "The evidence he presented to the United Nations - some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail - had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them," Cohen wrote. "Only a fool - or possibly a Frenchman - could conclude otherwise."

Meanwhile, another one of the Post's syndicated savants, Jim Hoagland, led with this declaration: "Colin Powell did more than present the world with a convincing and detailed X-ray of Iraq's secret weapons and terrorism programs yesterday. He also exposed the enduring bad faith of several key members of the UN Security Council when it comes to Iraq and its 'web of lies,' in Powell's phrase." Hoagland's closing words banished doubt: "To continue to say that the Bush administration has not made its case, you must now believe that Colin Powell lied in the most serious statement he will ever make, or was taken in by manufactured evidence. I don't believe that. Today, neither should you."

To read the full text, see

4:43 PM

US backs first-strike attack plan

BBC News
March 16, 2006

The US will not shy away from attacking regimes it considers hostile, or groups it believes have nuclear or chemical weapons, the White House has confirmed.

In the first restatement of national security strategy since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US singles out Iran as the greatest single current danger.

The new policy backs the policy of pre-emptive war first issued in 2002, and criticised since the Iraq war.
But it stresses that the US aims to spread democracy through diplomacy.

The new strategy also highlights a string of other global issues of concern to the US, such as the spread of Aids, the threat of pandemic flu and the prospect of natural and environmental disasters.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is due to make a speech launching the new strategy on Thursday.

To read the full text, see

9:16 AM

Wednesday, March 15, 2006  
Baghdad: The Besieged Press

By Orville Schell
New York Review of Books
April 6, 2006 issue

Blog editor's note: This piece by Schell, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at U.C. Berkeley and a noted China scholar/journalist, was reprinted by permission at [See link below]

"Ladies and Gents," the South African pilot matter-of-factly announces over the intercom, "we'll be starting our spiral descent into Baghdad, where the temperature is 19 degrees Celsius." The vast and mesmerizing expanse of sandpapery desert that has been stretching out beneath the plane has ended at the Tigris River. To avoid a dangerous glide path over hostile territory and missiles and automatic weapons fire, the plane banks steeply and then, as if caught in a powerful whirlpool, it plunges, circling downward in a corkscrew pattern.

Upon arriving in Amman, the main civilian gateway to Baghdad, one already has had the feeling of drawing ever nearer to an atomic reactor in meltdown. Even in Jordan, there is a palpable sense of being in the last concentric circle away from a radioactive ground zero emitting uncontrollable waves of contamination.

To read the full text, see

9:43 AM

Tuesday, March 14, 2006  
Reports From the Future of Iraq Project
------Over 1,200 Pages of Previously Unavailable Reports From State Dept Planning for Post-Saddam Iraq
-------Warnings and Recommendations by Experts and Iraqi Exiles Ignored by Administration

Russ Kick
The Memory Hole
March 2006

Starting in October 2001, about a year and a half before the US and its allies invaded Iraq, the State Department spearheaded an effort called the Future of Iraq Project. Dozens of Iraqi exiles and international experts were brought together to figure out how to create a new Iraq should Saddam Hussein somehow be taken out of power.

Within the project, seventeen working groups covered such areas as the justice system, local government, agriculture, media, education, and oil. The various working groups began meeting in July 2002 and continued through March/April 2003. Twelve of the groups released reports. The project cost $5 million.

The project's observations and recommendations were almost wholly ignored by the administration during its pre-war planning for the occupation. Soon after the invasion, though, CD-ROMs of the reports were sent to the staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Among other things, the working groups foresaw the widespread looting in the aftermath of invasion and warned against quickly disbanding the Iraqi Army.

The project's reports have never been made available to the public. In October 2003, "Congressional officials" allowed two New York Times reporters to view the reports, but they were not allowed to take them. Upon reading this, I immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the reports, which was granted in February 2006. Eight of the reports were released in their entirety, while the rest were redacted to some degree. I have scanned them and created a PDF file of each report, all of which are posted to the left.

To retrieve the PDF format reports, see The Memory Hole

8:36 AM

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