to the Foxes, Not the Hedgehogs
this pretty narcissistic.
Hadar was remiss
not to at least acknowledge the analytical framework provided by Edward Herman
and Noam Chomsky for understanding how people working in media are subject to
a kind of natural selection process which favors the self-interest of media
owners. They describe in Manufacturing
Consent how people working successfully in corporate media come to internalize
the values and biases of their employers, allowing them to advance within their
respective organizations. Those who won't or can't adapt are weeded out along
pundits will predictably make the same assumptions and adopt the same logic
as the centers of political and economic power who are allied to their organizations.
By contrast, those working in alternative media are free to question the orthodoxy
of the mainstream and consider a fuller spectrum of experience and opinion to
produce their views, predictions, etc.
This seems such
an obvious point that I'm afraid I'm embarrassing myself, yet there is nothing
in Hadar's commentary that suggests it.
~ Dr. Mike Gaspar,
Thanks for your
comments. I wasn't discussing the work of Herman and Chomsky in my piece. My
focus was on Philip
Tetlock's book. I find it kind of uh
behavior when someone expresses astonishment that you failed to write about
his/her favorite topics, writers, etc. But in response to your points: It's
the editors and producers who make the decisions about whom to invite to write
op-eds and/or appear on talk shows. They are the gatekeepers. In fact, one of
the reasons that they invite pundit X or Y is because he/she has a specific
point of view about which he/she feels strongly (pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion,
for instance). Hence they have no incentive to "modify" their position so as
to fit into the perspective of the media outlet. The problem with "alternative"
publications is that they invite those who share their views to express their
opinion. I've never read a pro-free market article in Marxist publications,
I just read your
piece today on Antiwar.com. I don't know if you have clicked on the "Senior
Advisors" link On the ICG Board of Advisors page that you gave (it's easy
to miss), but the list of horrors continues: Ashdown, Rühe, Robertson etc.
you heard of Spiked? Its former
editor Mick Hume used to run LM, which lost the libel action with ITN
over Thomas Deichmann's article on how the Trnopolje story was manipulated.
They've just run two very good pieces, one
on Kosovo that takes a different view and another
on Germany's proposed genocide denial law.
In fact, they
have run many good articles on the former Yugoslavia.
have indeed researched ICG's staff in some depth, and that knowledge forms the
basis of my disdain for this "independent think tank" (as mainstream
media keep calling it). Thank you for pointing this out, though; it should be
I've quoted Brendan
O'Neill from Spiked before, and have been following their Balkans coverage.
Some good stuff there, to be sure.
want to ask Mr. Malic what books he would recommend covering the wars in the
Balkans and the split of Yugoslavia. I am looking for something unbiased and
showing the whole picture – not just from one group's point of view. Any help
would be appreciated.
~ Derek VanBrocklin
would recommend the books from my 2003 column "The
Worthy Balkans Booklist," as well as the recently published Media
Cleansing by Peter Brock.
Bombing Iran Bush's Call?
you have very clearly exposed the danger, but Bush is unlikely to start an attack
out of the blue, and the resolution you advocate won't solve the problem. H.J.
Res. 14 says "Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably
imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories or possessions
or its armed forces, the President shall consult with Congress
." So even
if it passes it leaves the doors wide open, Bush can still claim "imminent attack"
(who defines "imminent"?), or manufacture some border skirmish with Iran and
claim actual attack.
Or, Israel could
drop the first bombs and when Iran responds Bush will claim U.S. forces in Iraq
and our ally Israel is being attacked by Iran, and at that point Congress probably
would support that we step in militarily.
Here are two preemptive
things I believe Congress could do now that would effectively close some doors.
(1) Take the nuclear
option off the table by passing a law that would make it illegal for the president
to use nuclear weapons against Iran, or against any non-nuclear-weapon state,
in the absence of explicit prior congressional authorization. Under any circumstance,
not with the "absent a national emergency" clause. Or it could be added to H.J.
Res. 14 without that clause. I believe that may deter Bush from starting any
attack against Iran, conventional or otherwise.
(2) Pass a resolution
now stating that if Israel starts military action against Iran while this resolution
is in effect, the United States will not intervene. I believe that may deter
Israel from starting it. Congress could always decide later to annul that resolution
if it becomes convinced that Iran is about to acquire nuclear weapons.
~ Jorge Hirsch
Consequences of Attacking Iran
might have mentioned a 13th consequence: A war with Iran could also cost us
the forces we have in Iraq. Our entire Army is supplied over a road that is
about 50 miles from the Iranian military base in Khorramshahr, between Basra
and Umm Qasr in Iraq, hundreds of miles from the center of U.S. operations in
Baghdad. If the Iranians responded to an American attack by counterattacking
into Iraq, they could reach the road in a few hours and then proceed to destroy
it, cutting off our entire army 300 miles inland (some of the Marines are more
like 500 miles from Kuwait, up near the Syrian border). About 90-plus percent
of the supplies to our Army run over that road.
If the Iranians
responded immediately, they could throw off the entire American campaign against
them. The Air Force would be under pressure to bomb their formations in Iraq.
This would throw off both the Naval and counter-air campaign, and probably let
the Iranian air force get in a few shots of its own. Paradoxically, this would
smash the road still further, digging an even deeper hole for the Army and Marines.
The Army would be under even greater pressure to respond, since it would be
running out of food, ammo, fuel, and water as soon as the last convoy arrived
from the south.
The Iranian force
would have to be large enough to turn the British out of Basra, preferably without
a fight. By invading between Basra and Kuwait with 50-70 thousand troops, they
would force the British (about 7,500 troops) to retreat in a roundabout way
through the desert into Kuwait. Such a disaster would bring down Blair the way
Suez brought down Eden. Once the British were out, the Iranians would occupy
and fortify Basra against the American counterattack. They would also rouse
the Shi'ite Iraqi south against the Americans, assuring that our troops would
run a 300- to 400-mile gauntlet of snipers, IEDs, and other ambushes. Shortages
of medical supplies and facilities on such a march would send the casualty rate
The pressure on
the Army in Baghdad would be immense, because the Iranians could render the
road unusable for months – they don't need it for their operations. Sappers
and bulldozers would dismantle the highway, rendering it useless until someone
re-paved it. With Americans hundreds of miles inland, there would be to little
stop them. In effect, the Iranians would be using Eisenhower's pre-D-Day Transportation
Plan, in which the allied air forces smashed the German supply lines into Normandy,
but with ground troops instead of the air force.
Air Force units
in Iraq, at bases like Balad, would have to be pulled out because they too would
start running out of fuel, spares, munitions, etc., the moment the road is cut.
The planes could flown to bases elsewhere in the region pretty quickly, but
getting out the ground crews, supplies, munitions, etc., would take days to
weeks, and would cut into our ability to conduct air operations – and take up
most of our air transport capabilities.
The ground forces
in Iraq would have two options, counterattack south or retreat through relatively
friendly Kurdish country into Turkey. Because without food, water (one-third
of all U.S. supplies by weight consists of bottled water), ammunition, and medical
supplies, they are doomed.
~ Edward Furey
to Iraq: Screw You
"The U.S. has
gained no political or economic advantages from the invasion and occupation
of Iraq. Quite the contrary, we are paying through the nose, and the economic
costs (totaling some $1 trillion)
are almost as high as the political price – world
isolation and the threat of terrorism on U.S. soil."
You are wrong.
While the USA as a whole gains nothing, myriad "artificial persons" such as
and other defense contractors are profiting immensely from the war. U.S. "elites"
– i.e., the investment class – gain a great deal. Additionally, in regard to
oil, the Iraqi government just signed away a great deal of their oil proceeds
U.S. and UK energy companies at rates that would be considered thievery
in any other Middle Eastern oil-producing country.
There ARE gains,
Justin. But the gains are for the few; the losses for the many.
~ Kevin Bart
totally agree that the prime mover that got us into the Iraq war is the neocons'
notion of Israel's "security" – and the consequent mobilization
of the Israel lobby to that end.
It's also true
that the Iraq war did not benefit America or improve our access to Mideast oil
– quite the opposite. So it wasn't a "war for oil."
However, if we
look at oil company PROFITS, we see that they
are up astronomically, due to recent huge oil price increases. These increases
are arguably due in large part to (present and future expected) threats to oil
supply created by America's present and future wars of "creative destruction"
in Iraq, Iran, and God knows where else.
So in that one
sense, it must be admitted that this has certainly turned out to be a war that
garnered oil more oil profits (if not more oil) for a few powerful Americans
(though not for "America").
All that said,
the Iraq war certainly could not have happened if not for the passionate belief
of the politically all-powerful American pro-Israel organizations that such
wars are "good for Israel."
~ Mark Williams