August 13, 2008—On Tuesday, the sub-head for the Washington Post’s lead editorial read, “The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest.”
The nation in question, of course, was Russia and the “conquest” was its border clash with neighboring Georgia over two breakaway provinces that want to join the Russian Federation.
But an objective person might note that the sight of “a nation bent on conquest” shouldn’t be “unfamiliar” to Western nations unless they don’t look in the mirror. For example, the United States – with its “coalition of the willing” – invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003.
In that aggression, President George W. Bush had the support of Great Britain, Spain and a host of smaller states, including Georgia. You’d think the Post’s editorial writers would have remembered that since they were leading boosters of the Iraq conquest, pushing the argument that Iraq was threatening the United States with weapons of mass destruction.
As it turned out, Iraq had long since destroyed its stockpiles of WMD, as U.S. intelligence already had been told by senior Iraqi officials who were collaborating with Washington – and as U.N. weapons inspectors were confirming inside Iraq until Bush forced them to depart to make way for his “shock and awe” bombing campaign.
Over the following years, the Post’s editorial page has never formally apologized to the American people – not to mention to the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis – for its readiness to serve as a propaganda organ for the U.S. government.
Beyond that lack of contrition, the Post has continued ugly attacks on Americans who dared dissent against Bush’s false WMD claims.
For instance, the Post’s editorial page and Outlook section have published repeated, scurrilous attacks on former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who blew the whistle on Bush’s use of false intelligence about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “WPost’s Editorial Fantasyland.”]
However, it apparently remains impolite in Washington society to suggest that editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt should be fired.
Instead of any accountability, there’s been the Great Disconnect. The Post’s editorial board simply has decoupled from any memory of its Iraq guilt and instead rolls toward a more comfortable place where the newspaper still stands for what is right and good.
The Great Disconnect was on display in three Post editorials over the past four days as the newspaper fumed over Russia’s routing of U.S.-trained Georgian troops who had launched a sudden offensive against separatist South Ossetia on Aug. 7.
The three editorials run the full gamut of double standards, from evoking a renewed reverence for international law to accusing Russia of deception over the reasons for its counterattack against Georgia.
“The principles at stake, including sovereignty and territorial integrity, apply well beyond the Caucasus,” the Post’s Aug. 9 editorial said, although the reference was to other Russian border states, not to countries that might be on President Bush’s hit list.
The Aug. 11 editorial accused Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of lying to justify the attacks on Georgia. “His brazen invocation of the Big Lie to justify Russia’s aggression – accusing Georgia of ‘complete genocide’ [against South Ossetians] – provided an answer” of how far Putin would go in his autocratic ways, the Post said.
The editorial then turned to tough talk: “The West will have to decide whether to continue its efforts to soothe and placate Mr. Putin, as if he were a petulant child who could be bought off with candy and words of praise, or whether to rise to the geopolitical challenge his regime poses.”
The harsh rhetoric again ignored the mirror image of another “petulant child,” George W. Bush whose lashing out – both in his attacks on other countries and his multiple violations of international law – was aided and abetted by the Post’s editorial board.
The Post also was throwing stones from a glass house when it cited the “Big Lie” technique. Nothing Russia has said in justifying its attacks on Georgia has matched the lies the Bush administration – and the Washington Post – told about Iraq.
By the Aug. 12 editorial, the Post was experiencing convenient memory loss, concluding that the image of a conquering nation was “an unfamiliar sight” to the West. Despite this amnesia, the Post editors insisted that they were the ones with the clarity.
“The most urgent need is to see clearly what is taking place,” the Post opined.
Yet, what truly is taking place is a dangerous disconnect from reality in which Washington’s media and political elites see offenses that others commit (often cast in the harshest light) while averting their eyes from their own equally bad or worse behavior.
Then, if anyone mentions the U.S. misdeeds, the quick reaction from the neoconservatives is to hurl the accusation of “blaming-America-first.”
That is often followed by another favorite neocon attack line, accusing people of “moral equivalence” if they try to hold the United States to the same rules as its adversaries.
In judging American actions, evenhandedness is a sin; double standards are a virtue. Up is down; objectivity is a crime.
So, as alarming as it may be when a Bush administration official mocks “the reality-based community,” as author Ron Suskind once reported, it may be even more troubling when Washington’s premier newspaper de-links from the real world and drifts into a fog of propaganda.
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This story was published on August 13, 2008.