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(202) 362-5266 21 June 2004 MER@MiddleEast.Org
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A Hint Ahead...

Getting Ready to attack and/or
"Regime Change"
Iran and North Korea

"...waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the
United States to confront more immediate dangers....
Because our military is stretched so thin in Iraq, we
cannot threaten military action in Iran or North Korea."

Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 21 June 2004:
The phrasing from The New Republic is about the mistakes or the past; the reality is that in the corridors of power and influence in Washington the talk is already switching to bringing down Iran and North Korea soon after the November election no matter who is in the White House.
In the mid 1970's shortly after the 1973 "Yom Kippur" War, Martin Peretz bought The New Republic Magazine. At the time he bragged to insiders that he had done so because of his firm personal promise to former Israeli Prime Minister Gold Meir to do something important to "help Israel."
And indeed that is what Peretz has consistently done, repeatedly and often, through the pages of his magazine, as have others such as Mortimer Zuckerman, mega-mogul owner of U.S. News and World Report and other publications who has also served as the President of the umbrella group comprised of the many organizations that we collectively term the Israeli-Jewish lobby.
"Helping Israel" with sophisticated journalistic endeavors is one of the big reasons there is so little open and serious debate about Israel in the United States. So much is twisted, so much is hidden, so much is covered-up, and so much is excused and overlooked. Moreover, anyone who dares speak up is quite literally vilified and cut off in mid-sentence. True to form, as The New Republic now expresses it's "regret" over Iraq, at the same time it is helping ignite the fires for the expansion of the American military crusade to the next countries on the "evil" list. And all the while, no serious mention ever of the tremendous role the Israelis played in so many ways in bringing about the American containment/invasion/occupation of Iraq and are now playing in fanning the flames with Iran, as well as Syria and what remains of the now largely defeated Palestinian resistance.

New Republic Editors 'Regret' Their Support of Iraq War

By Howard Kurtz

Washington Post - June 19, 2004; Page C01: Ever since the New Republic broke with liberal orthodoxy by strongly supporting President Bush's war with Iraq, the magazine has been getting a steady stream of e-mails from readers demanding an apology.

Now the left-leaning weekly has admitted that it was wrong to have backed the war based on the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

"We feel regret, but no shame. . . . Our strategic rationale for war has collapsed," says an editorial hammered out after a contentious, 3 1/2-hour editors' meeting.

"I wanted the editorial to be honest not just about the war and other people's mistakes but our mistakes," Editor Peter Beinart says. "We felt we had a responsibility to look in the mirror."

News organizations that reported on the war and commentators who backed it have faced a similarly thorny dilemma since the failure to find illegal weapons in Iraq, along with the increasingly violent climate there. Were they wrong -- in which case they owe their readers an explanation -- or simply conveying what many officials and analysts believed at the time?

The New York Times ran an editor's note last month saying the paper's aggressive reporting on WMDs was "not as rigorous as it should have been" and overplayed stories with "dire claims about Iraq," adding: "Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper."

A Washington Post editorial in October asked: "Were we wrong? The honest answer is: We don't yet know. But at this stage we continue to believe that the war was justified and necessary, and that the gains so far have outweighed the costs." Last month the editorial page was more pessimistic about the effort to stabilize Iraq, saying: "It can fairly be asked now whether that mission is achievable."

CNN commentator Tucker Carlson minced no words last week: "I am embarrassed that I supported the war in Iraq."

But most conservative publications have stuck to their editorial guns. "Yes, we still support the war, but wish the postwar had been fought better and we've been critical of the administration," says Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. "We have no second thoughts about the justice and necessity of the war."

Executive Editor Fred Barnes, who visited Iraq in March, says he "came back more pessimistic than when I left. Winning the war was one thing, but winning a peaceful and democratic Iraq is a lot harder than we thought."

The New Republic's issue next week features reappraisals (with varying conclusions) by owner Martin Peretz and literary editor Leon Wieseltier, Beinart, Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum and Sens. Joe Biden and John McCain, among others.

The magazine's editorial dances up to the line of saying it was a mistake to support the war, but doesn't quite cross it.

"The central assumption underlying this magazine's strategic rationale for war now appears to have been wrong," it says. Even without nuclear or biological weapons, Hussein may have still been a threat, "but saying he was a threat does not mean he was a threat urgent enough to require war."

In fact, "waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the United States to confront more immediate dangers. . . . Because our military is stretched so thin in Iraq, we cannot threaten military action in Iran or North Korea."

There were indications early on that some of the administration's evidence was shaky, says the editorial, and "in retrospect we should have paid more attention to these warning signs."

The New Republic then retreats to its second argument, the "moral rationale" for war against one of the "ghastliest regimes of our time." But even on this more favorable turf, the administration's mistakes, including having "winked at torture," means that "this war's moral costs have been higher than we foresaw."

John Judis, a New Republic senior editor, disagreed with the editorial and felt it should have gone further. He had argued before the war that there was insufficient evidence that Hussein posed a nuclear threat. In light of subsequent events, he says, "I feel vindication."

As for the moral case for war, Judis says, "I found Saddam Hussein's regime as abhorrent as anyone. But I thought there were a lot of historical reasons to doubt that the U.S. going it alone, or with Britain, could create a regime in the Middle East in our own image. I don't see any reason for believing that things will get better."

The battle lines for the internal debate were drawn. Beinart is a charter member of the liberal hawks club, but much of the staff is more dovish. At one point, participants say, one staffer declared that the war effort had been a total disaster, prompting an impassioned plea from others, including hawkish foreign-affairs writer Lawrence Kaplan, that they shouldn't give up hope.

Peretz, who may be the magazine's strongest supporter of the war, argued against going too far.

"I don't think the New Republic owes anybody an apology," Peretz says. "There were some things we were mistaken about, like believing there were WMDs, but my piece lays out an argument for the war independent of that mistake. These apologies are silly." But he welcomes the editorial, adding: "I would have written it slightly differently."

Among the other contributors, some, like Zakaria, admit error: "The biggest mistake I made on Iraq was to believe that the Bush administration would want to get Iraq right more than it wanted to prove that its own prejudices were right."

Wieseltier goes further than the editorial, saying flatly: "If I had known that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, I would not have supported this war." He says he has "come to despise" some of the officials running the war.

Others, like McCain, stand their ground: "Even if Saddam had forever abandoned his WMD ambitions, it was still right to topple the dictator."

Beinart, who in a signed column rips the conservatives who promoted the war, now contends he was misled by the administration. "I feel furious," he says. "If the administration had been less duplicitous, we and others might have recognized that Saddam didn't have nuclear weapons. . . . Maybe we were naive, but I didn't think they would lie to that extent."

Beinart still believes that things may turn out all right in Iraq. But, he concedes, "we may have to go back and do another editorial a year from now."

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June 2004


About the new MiddleEast.Org
(June 30, 2004)

U.S. Ordered Brits to Attack Iran - Brits Balked
(June 30, 2004)
The order was given in secret by the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, who was already scheduled to be replaced, quite likely because of his involvement in the horrendous Iraqi torture scandal. But anyone who thinks General Sanchez gave the order without checking first with his neocon bosses back at the Pentagon -- Wolfowitz and Feith, who then of course check with Rumsfeld who then tells the President, Condi, and Colin -- just doesn't understand even at this late date how the invasion/occupation of Iraq came about nor how the Pentagon planning has been progressing for Iran, Syria, North Korea, just as soon as the excuses can be managed.

Bush and U.S. Exposed - book by book by book
(June 30, 2004)
This list of books exposing the Bush presidency for what it really is all about is an essential corrective to all the propaganda and TV clips constantly bombarding the American people... In many ways though some of these books are more significant, however in a TV/Movie age even collectively they will not have the same impact though they do help set a climate for skepticism and anxiety. This particular list was compiled a few months ago by USA Today so it's hardly complete at this point. But it is a good starting place for those wanting to choose a little holiday reading, however depressive, sometimes shocking, surely politically and historically depressing.

America's Baghdad - Corruption, Barricades, Boozing, Fear and Incompetence
(June 29, 2004)
Baghdad is awash with stories of the corruption, cronyism and incompetence of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which was dissolved this week.

Brits Departed Palestine Leaving Civil War - MER FlashBack
(June 29, 2004)
"Contrary to contemporary assertions, the British and the Americans have done far more to prevent democracy in the Middle East, and to inhibit independent economic development as well, then they will ever admit."

Bremer Slinks Away; CIA Slinks Forward
(June 28, 2004)
Thus now Bremer hastily and rather shamefully slinks away without much fanfare, a few days early so they say, even as Iraq continues to seeth in hatred and a slow-simmer civil war.

Baghdad Shuffle
(June 28, 2004)
It's historic alright. A huge historic bungle that is quite literally exploding in their faces as they try to appear to go but actually stay with their carefully chosen Iraqi faces now out front. Over the weekend on ABC News one of the neocon political commentators made a little mistake and clearly called the American-appointed 'interim Iraqi Prime Minister' a "CIA agent" -- it was a rare moment of candor in public in today's confused, uptight, and secretive Washington.

Kurds on 'the return' - Palestinians into ghettos
(June 27, 2004)
Substitute "Palestinians" for Kurds, and "Israelis" for Arabs, and there is a whole different twist to 'the return' of the Kurds featured in this front-page New York Times article last Sunday. Another great irony of our times is that even as the Americans and the Israelis help facilitate what the Kurds are doing in Iraq they demand the Palestinians give up their 'right of return' even though it is enshrined in many U.N. Security Council resolutions going back to 1947...

Worst Crisis Since WWII?
(June 26, 2004)
"the most foolhardy civilian leadership in the modern history of the United States." (Newsweek) "A vacuum has opened up at the heart of world politics where US leadership ought to be found." (Financial Times) "The unpalatable truth is that the Bush administration has failed in almost everything it has touched."

The Historical Moment - MER Flashback Four Years
(June 25, 2004)
MER FLASHBACK to 25 June 2001: Months before what is now known as "9/11" MER published these articles indicating that a major strike by Osama Bin-Laden against the U.S. was imminent and that the Israelis were more determined than ever to subjugate the Palestinians. We wrote at the time: "In these conditions any spark can ignite the blaze; and sometimes such giant fires consume more than was originally anticipated, sometimes even those who start them."

BBC Hired by British Government to Broadcast TV to Middle East
(June 24, 2004)

More Readers' Comments from Around the World
(June 24, 2004)
Just some of the many Readers's Comments continually pouring in to MER from around the world.

Thank you for previewing the new MiddleEast.Org
(June 23, 2004)

Cheney and Rumseld "linked to murder" of CIA scientist in cold war years
(June 23, 2004)
Secret documents have revealed US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld are "linked to the murder" of a senior CIA scientist.

It's Now the Second Half of 1948
(June 23, 2004)
As always Professor Tanya Reinhart from Tel Aviv University writes with extraordinary insight. "...the Israeli military and political leadership are aiming, eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority, and, with it, the process of Oslo, which is now dominantly considered by them a 'historical mistake'."

Information Warfare - Israel Wins Big
(June 22, 2004)
For 10 years Tim Llewellyn was the BBC's Middle East correspondent. In this passionately argued polemic he accuses British broadcasters, including his former employer, of systematic bias in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict, giving undue prominence to the views of the Israelis while all but disregarding the roots of the crisis and what is being done to the Palestinians.

Gearing Up for IRAN and North Korea
(June 21, 2004)
"...waiting to confront Iraq would have allowed the United States to confront more immediate dangers.... Because our military is stretched so thin in Iraq, we cannot threaten military action in Iran or North Korea." Martin Peretz and The New Republic

(June 20, 2004)

Nader Speaks to Buchanon
(June 15, 2004)
He's going after the real conservative vote, so he says.

Crusade II - Reagan first brought the neocons to power
(June 09, 2004)
Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Bush...and the list goes on. Those who have recently led the crusade to invade Iraq, subjugate the Palestinians, and fight Islam, were brought to power in Washington for the first time some 23 years ago when Ronald Reagan of the once far-right was victorious over Jimmy Carter of the once mid-left in American politics. And some now forget that the man who greatly helped bring Ronald Reagan to power was none other than George Herbert Walker Bush, former head of the CIA, who now became Vice-President for the next eight years and then himself succeeded Reagan as President in 1989.

Realities of the "Reagan Plan" for the Middle East
(June 06, 2004)
The seeds for the Intifada and for Israel's increasingly aggressive escalating occupation of and dispossession of the Palestinian people were sown in the years of the Reagan Presidency. Indeed it was Ronald Reagan who first brought what we today call the "neocons" to power in Washington, and the right-wing Republicans who forged such a close alliance with the Israeli Likud of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon which had come to power in Israel in 1977 for the first time.

© 2004 Mid-East Realities, All rights reserved