Perhaps the journalistic situation is not hopeless (see “Lies, Damn Lies, and the Mainstream Media,” SLL, 2/9/15). Monday, The Wall Street Journal printed two guest columns in its Opinion section that amounted to an admission that the outside-the-mainstream media is drawing blood. The first, “The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’,” was from Laurence H. Silberman, a federal judge who was the co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Mr. Silberman asserted that President George W. Bush did not knowingly lie about Iraqi WMDs to get the US into war with Iraq, but rather in good faith relied on faulty intelligence, which Silverman’s commission concluded was “dead wrong.”
Give Mr. Silberman his contention that Bush acted in good faith. The column still concedes defeat on what was a fringe position back then but which has become the accepted truth now: the US was lead into war on the basis of flawed intelligence. While he does not concede a second point—that the intelligence fed Bush was shaped, slanted, or cooked to lead him into war—the point remains that the intelligence was wrong. Inside the mainstream media, the intelligence community’s influence has been pervasive since at least the 1960s (especially inside The Wall Street Journal). That’s been repeatedly demonstrated and proved, mostly by outside-the-mainstream media (see, for instance, “The CIA And The Media,” carlbernstein.com). As the US government tees up the country for more US military intervention in the Middle East and Ukraine, the contrary case is again being made outside the mainstream. However, the Iraqi episode has made it generally acceptable for those making that case to cast a skeptical eye on, or reject entirely when the facts warrant, the kind of “intelligence” that was treated as gospel by the Bush administration and the American press and public.
The second Journal column, “Time to Stop Letting Putin Win the War of Words,” by John Kornblum, a former ambassador to Germany, bemoans ”a Russian propaganda machine that buoys his [Putin’s] popularity at home and disseminates his cracked version of history through digital networks around the world. Mr. Putin is succeeding militarily—and winning the war of words.” Mr. Kornblum equates those of us who question the party line on Ukraine as propagandists for Mr. Putin, but we’re used to that. What’s important here is that Mr. Kornblum and The Wall Street Journal are taking public notice of our efforts. They wouldn’t go to the trouble to disparage the skeptics if the skepticism wasn’t having an effect.
The proponents of expanded US involvement in Ukraine are having Syrian night sweats. President Obama had teed himself up for Syrian involvement with his foolish “red line” threat if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons trying to suppress Syrian rebels. Lo and behold, Assad allegedly used such weapons; time for war! Except the Internet erupted with plausible challenges to US intelligence and the American people had no stomach for US military involvement in Syria’s civil war, regardless of how many Syrians were dying there. Obama kicked the decision to a Congress overwhelmed by public antiwar sentiment, and there the idea died, although it has been resurrected as the Islamic State threat.
Now it’s not the US public taking the lead against further US involvement in Ukraine, but the Europeans, who would be on the front line of a war with Russia as the US remains safely tucked in its fortress behind the Atlantic and Pacific moats. Mr. Kornblum threw cold water on a trip by Angela Merkel and François Hollande to Kiev to try to broker a peace deal in the Ukrainian hostilities, saying Merkel and Obama “need urgently to put Western strategy toward Russian and Ukraine back on track.” First stop on that track would be arming the Ukrainian government. The next stop would be war with Russia. No right-thinking American foreign policy or military apparatchik wants those Internet assholes stirring up the pot on Ukraine. The US people are supposed to march in lockstep off to war against the world’s second biggest nuclear power.
Kornblum’s article is all the encouragement we Internet assholes need. The powers that be are finding the discordant notes nettlesome, which means that there will be more discordant notes to come.