Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Shock And Aw Shucks

Over at Informed Comment Juan Cole quotes Sy Hersh in regards to the NeoTrot takeover of our government. Go read it. As usual it's quite informative. But as this seems a surprise to everyone, I do have to ask: ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

I've stated it before, and I'll state it again. The foreign policy in which we are currently engaged was completely predictable before BushCo took office, 9/11 or no 9/11. There wasn't some shadowy conspiracy of neo-con theorists secretly plotting under cover of night to take us to war in Iraq. The PNAC and their policy positions have never been secret. On the contrary, since its inception it has been an intellectual clearinghouse for exactly what our foreign policy has become. They publish their reports on their website in public view and state their positions in a frank and open manner in the pages of such papers of record as The Weekly Standard, Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post.

The reasons to point this out aren't to create some scary bogeyman Michael Moore style conspiracy paranoia. When someone tells the entire public what they intend to do with power the public might give them, it's a little ridiculous for the public to act surprised when that someone goes and does it. What is scary is not that eight people have taken over the government - that's the way things have been running since Nixon at the very least - but that we didn't have a debate on the merits of what those eight people wanted to do when it was quite obvious from their stated positions. As early as 1998, both Cheney and Rumsfeld, at that time members of the PNAC, had urged Clinton to attack Iraq without proof of WMD and without provocation. It's not paranoia to take people at their word even if it's not on the front page of the NYT.

To discuss why this wasn't part of the discourse is to walk onto Somerby's beat. However, in case you missed it, while Bush was out on the campaign trail advocating a more humble foreign policy, the people he intended to put in charge of foreign policy had very different ideas. It was a simple question. "Governor, how do you reconcile your more humble aspirations with the stated goals of Secretary Cheney and his colleagues?" Did anyone ask? Frankly, I don't remember. There certainly was guarded discussion of it in the debates in 2000, but from a skim of the parts of the transcripts that mention Iraq, there's lots of equivocation from both sides about needing a "stronger position" and "toughening the sanctions". There's also some statements to the effect that if Saddam had WMD, we would "take him out".

You can read about all of this at places like Common Dreams but since that was published in 2003, that isn't the point. The point is that although wonky policy papers are often boring to read, it's the job of the press to coalesce them into something we can all understand. The failure of the press to do so is a failure that goes back years. It's not liberal bias or conservative bias. It's the fact that until there are explosions in the cities and corpses in the streets, our media doesn't want to cover it. They had a chance to warn us, and they didn't. Now that's scary.