web counter Media Lies: Here we go again

Saturday, November 20, 2004

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Here we go again

At least that's what the NY Times thinks. In an editorial named "Groundhog Day", the times bemoans the "fact" that the "same things" are happening now with regard to Iran that happened with regard to Iraq.

You know the drill.
Stop us if you've heard this one before. The Bush administration creates a false sense of urgency about a nuclear menace from a Middle Eastern country. Hard-liners talk about that country's connections to terrorists. They portray European diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions as a feckless attempt to appease a rogue nation whose word can never be trusted anyway. Secretary of State Colin Powell makes ominous-sounding warnings about new intelligence, which turns out to be dubious.

That is how President Bush rushed the country into an unnecessary conflict with Iraq in his first term, and we have been seeing alarming signs of that approach all week on Iran.
What is the evidence for their concerns?

The admit that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program and that they have been dishonest in their international dealings, but they complain that there's nothing "imminent" compelling a military solution. Of course, Bush never used the word "imminent" with regard to Iraq either, but we've got to stick to the party line.
Europe promises to resume talks on a preferential trade agreement. If they don't, it will be time for international economic sanctions.
Sure. Sanctions worked so well with Sadaam. Why not give them a second chance? (Note to self - monitor how closely the Times follows the Oil For Food scandal.)

(Skip over the whining about faulty intelligence and scary prognostications.)
mall wonder, then, that the Europeans started to accuse Washington of trying to undermine diplomacy with Iran, just as the Bush administration thwarted their efforts to resume the U.N. inspections of Iraq - inspections that we now know had been highly effective.
Um, no, we don't know that, because we don't know yet what happened to Sadaam's weapons. There is a strong possibility they were taken to Syria, but without confirmation, we simply don't know. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.
Iran has long been a target of the hawks in the administration, who are undoubtedly feeling their oats after the election. But we hope that President Bush has learned enough from the Iraq adventure to understand the dangers of using flawed intelligence to create a false sense of urgency about a national security threat.

Obviously, a nuclear-armed Iran run by its current brand of extremists, who have twisted religion to support terrorism, would be a cause for real concern. But there is no military solution here. Iran's scattered and secretive nuclear program cannot be bombed out of existence. And even if the United States had not stretched its military to the limit in Iraq, invading Iran, a country of nearly 70 million people, would be a catastrophic mistake.

The Bush administration has said that stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons is at the top of its foreign policy agenda. That's where it belongs. But it's a goal that can be pursued only through truly multilateral diplomacy, in which the United States works with its European allies, rather than trying to undermine them, and the Europeans are prepared to stand behind Washington with a credible threat of economic sanctions when they are justified. It is not an excuse for war or even for pretending that war is a rational option.
Would that be the way that France, Germany and Russia stood behind us while taking bribes from Sadaam?

I'm not wondering.