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Tipping Point on Iraq

At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time.

By Greg Mitchell

(August 22, 2005) -- As the dog days of August wind down, the editorial pages of American newspapers face a moment of truth on the Iraq war. Over the next few weeks, with vacationers heading home, the president's popularity sinking, hearings planned in Congress, and major protests set, the case for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- sooner rather than later, as Al Neuharth has repeatedly put it -- will finally become a center of public and political debate.

Or, as Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (who once favored the war) said on Sunday, "We should start figuring out how we get out of there. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

It's time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to consider using their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands, or simply criticize the conduct of the war, or the lack of body armor for our troops. Not many months ago, in fact, some papers, including The New York Times, were calling for more U.S. troops for Iraq.

Now it's literally do-or-die time.

President Bush clearly recognizes this. This week, in a desperate attempt to counter the sensible idea of a phased withdrawal, he has lashed out at those who advocate something quite different--an immediate pullout--as if that is the only option.

As some of you no doubt know (and may be sick of reading), I have challenged major U.S. newspapers for more than two years to be first to clearly call for a phased withdrawal. Once a few do so, they will show that it is safe for others to stick their toes in the water.

The argument I've made is akin to Hagel's: While many claim that exiting will only make matters worse, the United States' presence is more of a long-term problem than a long-term solution, for both that country, and our own. Now, with Iraq moving toward a decentralized, pro-Iranian state, even some of my friends at conservative blogs and Web sites are shifting course, declaring that no American GIs should die for an Islamic nation.

Hagel yesterday added that "stay the course" is not a policy. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning," he said.

Since I have taken a lot of grief since 2003, from Jonah Goldberg and others, for even mentioning "Iraq" and "Vietnam" in the same paragraph, I will note a further Hagel comment: "We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have.

"What I think the White House does not yet understand, and some of my colleagues, the dam has broke on this policy. The longer we stay there, the more similarities [to Vietnam] are going to come together."

The time for the press to act, if it ever does, is now. Not for the first time, the newspapers are lagging behind the public, as major polls show that most Americans favor starting a pullout now, and feel the war was a mistake from the start.

The Cindy Sheehan protest in Texas, whatever one thinks of it (and her), has energized the antiwar movement, and emboldened a few mainstream politicians, besides Hagel, to call for withdrawal. Sen. Russell Feingold became the first Democratic senator to call for a pullout by the end of next year, and hearings on this proposal will take place soon.

On Sunday, Feingold revealed that when he visited Iraq he asked a top general what he thought about setting a timetable for exiting. The general, he said, replied: "Nothing would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgents better."

But where do the editorial pages stand on this? Only a few, such as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, have really staked out what could loosely be called an "antiwar" position. A few columnists, besides Neuharth, have turned hyper-critical, including the intrepid Joe Galloway of Knight Ridder. Neuharth and Galloway each have received high military honors; Hagel is a decorated Vietnam vet.

Galloway, unlike so many editorialists, has no trouble understanding that withdrawing is hardly dishonoring the thousands of Americans who had died or been badly wounded in Iraq. Perhaps that's because he has covered wars for 35 years, including each of our Iraq adventures.

When he wrote the following this month, Galloway was addressing the White House and the Pentagon, but he could have aimed it just as easily at the media: "Don't tell me we are going to stay the course. We are on the wrong course, and it only leads deeper into the quicksand. Tell me how we are going to change course."



Well, it's a start. The Dallas Morning News has been one of its native son's biggest supporters. Here's the climax of the paper's editorial today:

"As delegates in Baghdad completed their work, President Bush gave the national VFW convention a hopeful progress report on the Iraq war. One is taken aback by the disconnect between Mr. Bush's oratory and the situation on the ground in Iraq. The president relies on shopworn optimism and patriotic sentiment to fend off doubts about his war policy among segments of the American people. This is a risky and insufficient strategy.

"Over the weekend, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, a decorated Vietnam veteran, scoffed at the official cheer coming out of the White House and compared the Iraq situation to Vietnam. Chuck Hagel is not Cindy Sheehan. Platitudinous speeches before friendly audiences won't calm unsettled minds, and there aren't enough good days like yesterday in Iraq to bridge the gap between the president's rhetoric and that country's reality."



Joe Karius, publisher of the Ironwood (Mich.) Daily Globe, in a letter to the Romenesko site at, responds to my call:

"Starting two weeks ago, the Daily Globe each Friday began running an editorial condemning the war and calling for the U.S. to get out. At the bottom of each editorial, we’re carrying a 'Lest We Forget' box, listing the death and injury toll for U.S. troops."

Greg Mitchell ( is editor of E&P.

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What is the difference, Mr. Mitchell, between a "mistake" and a war crime?

And what is the difference between the "common good" and a war crime, and a "noble cause" and a war crime? These are very Leo Straussian philosophies and misnomers that are being spoon-fed to Bush by Wolfowitz.

Wolfowitz= student of Leo Strauss

August 2005, Late 5765 is definately a momentous time in human history. All of the lies that have been told are building up to a point of critical mass. Major trust building initiatives must take place throughout the world right now, and they must continue in the very near future.

It is not just each other the world "leaders" have to worry about. The Master of the Universe will do away with all of us if we do not adhere to his wish to make the world a literal Ganeden for all of his children.

The paradigm of violence and abuse of power has had it's day. A new era awaits, if we want it...

We collectively reap what we individually sow.

I cannot find any reference to Ganeden. Can you tell me more about this word? Is it anomalous to paradise?

What's the reason we cannot talk of a slow withdrawing of troops from Iraq? It would seem that would be the main focus of anyone that loved their country AND their children. No matter if you support Bush or Sheehan.....
Why is no one seeing this? It's just turned into a big political pile of s***. It seems GWB will not negotiate anything. Is it worth the thousands killed to be sure the US saves face? I think that is called "prideful" and not looked upon favoribly by the Bible I read... Perhaps, GWB reads Pat Robertsons ??

Watching President Bush 'communicate' is eerie - the shifting eyes, thrusting mouth, tilted head.. but the weirdest of all is the broken, multi-directional method of verbalizing. In the past election 'Is Bush Wired' was one of many questions the corporate press ignored - despite the changes in direction - mid sentence' preceded by long pauses. The beady little eye action appeared to some to be a giveaway.

The weird stlye continues.

Here's but one of many recent examples: (from )

"Q If it's rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be, is that still -- is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?

THE PRESIDENT: I talked to Condi, and there is not -- as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about not "the religion," but "a religion." Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a -- is embedded in the constitution.?

Parsing the words can give you a headache..

Another observation is how utterly wrong his comments are re: 'the religion' vs 'a religion' - the actual debate was whether the constitution would reference Islam as 'the' or 'a' source of law.

And the 25% women portion is on the cutting room floor

Thats what you call GUILT Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It feels like wading through honey. The pace at which the truth is revealed to the public is such a painstaking endeavour. Is it a matter of the bottom line, and the major networks and newspapers are afraid of being castigated by the administration, therefore losing status and dollars? Or have they been threatened by national security operatives? Whatever the reason, there are several "stories of the century" waiting to be told in full. From the Downing Street memo fiasco, to the outright disinformation policy of the administration, there would seem to be a literal ocean of hard news that, if properly reported, would blow this administration into the infamous category of policy mismanagement. This war in Iraq is a grotesque facsimile of a just war against a true enemy. This war has created its own enemies, and is therefore self sustaining as long as hard headed policy makers refuse to bend to the will of the people of America and the world. The Bush administration has a large number of pages reserved for it in the history books, but it will be chapters of shame. Telling lies is inherent to statecraft; often being necessary in the process of diplomacy. But the level of dishonesty infusing the Bush leadership is purely psychopathic.

The days of big money news corporations are coming to an end. They did themseleves in. No longer can they be trusted with overseeing the political hacks running this nation. Usher in the new age of a real "free press." When Bush goes, say buh-bye to the MSM.

The internet changed everything.

Check out this web site for a coming news network owned by us.

I would suggest reading Gary Hart's op-ed piece in today's Washington Post. He notes the cowardly silence of the Democrats (Kerry, Clinton, Biden et al.) who gave the Bush crowd a free pass on the Iraq War and says now is the time for someone to speak up and say they made a mistake. The Democrats are not going to win anything by default. Their silence at this time is deafening and disturbing. Wasn't it Kerry who said, "How can you ask someone to die for a mistake?" And we don't need any more "nuances."

I would suggest reading Gary Hart's op-ed piece in today's Washington Post where he chastizes the Democrats (i.e., Kerry, Clinton, Biden et al.) who gave the Bush crowd a free pass on the Iraq War for not speaking up at this critical time. Someone who hopes to lead this nation needs to speak up and admit they made a mistake. The Democrat's silence is deafening and disturbing. Wasn't it Kerry who said, "How can you ask someone to die for a mistake?" This was a big time mistake and this is not the time for more nuance. Democrats are not going to win anything by default.

What the opponents of the war must articulate on a regular basis is that the military occupation of Iraq and the war on Iraq are in violation of international law (as documented in my latest book "Lying for Empire: How to Commit War Crimes with a Straight Face")and therefore Bush is a war criminal. We should stop asking him to withdraw from Iraq but to stop committing war crimes.

You want an exit strategy, hows this for an exit strategy; all US troops out of Iraq within 90 days, theres your exit strategy, simple but eloquent. This strategy is so simple even little George Stupid could understand it, if he really concentrated and applied himself.

But why ask little George Stupid to get out of Iraq? We do not need his permission or cooperation, congress has the war making powers, in declaring war in the first place and continuing the war by providing the money. Congress can stop this insanely stupid war at any time by cutting the money, no money no war, regardless of what little George Stupid wants. The Vietnam war was never really over until congress grew some cajones and finally stoped all spending!

If the U.S. President orders it, it can't possibly be a crime.

At least that seems to be almost the entire operational basis for ongoing activities of the U.S. government. As far as this administration is concerned, a presidential directive trumps any law, including international laws and treaties undetaken in the name of the United States of America and its people.

The ocupation of and the war against Iraq are in violation of international law (as documented in my latest book "Lying for Empre: How to Commit War Crimes with a straight Face") and therefore Bush is a war criminal. What we must do is not demand that Bush withdraw from Iraq but to stop committing war crimes.

Bush says: "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States."

First of all, the statement itself appears to be a red herring consisting almost entirely of straw men. I don't recall seeing any recent advocacy for "immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East". What I have seen are many calls for military withdrawal from Iraq and a more balanced policy in the Middle East.

As for weakening the United States, it's difficult to see how what is actually being advocated could possibly weaken the U.S. long-term position internationally any more than the misbegotten Middle East policies and actions of this administration have already done.

Maybe Uncle Dick has confused Wee Georgie about the distinction between the United States and Halliburton.

We the people need a free and independent press.One that informs us not colludes to keep the truth from us.G.W.B. is heading this country right over a cliff and the press keeps trying to keep this fact from us.They have outted our own C.I.A. spys for political resons.Where is the outrage in the press.You would think there were no DSMs.To lie a country to war for greed and empire is imoral,illegal and impeachable.Now he says stay the course.Stay the course???What course..the one going over the cliff!?!?Yes you would think the media would report just the facts but they are smelling as bad as Bush.
Lied to war
Torture in our name
If Bush is right...Than Jesus was wrong

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