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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the poverty of journalism « Previous | |Next »
June 18, 2003

This piece by Charles Krauthammer, from The Washington Post, is pretty bad piece of work. It is a section of a text that has been downloaded into The Australian from the column's full text in The Washington Post.

Krauthammer starts by acknowledging the problem and then rejects the criticism:

"The inability to find the weapons (in Iraq) is indeed troubling, but only because it means that the weapons remain unaccounted for and might be in the wrong hands. The idea that our inability to thus far find the weapons proves that the threat was phony and hyped is simply false."

He then spells out that it was widely accepted that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons (no nuclear) then concludes:

"The weapons-hyping charge is . . . a way for opponents of the war – deeply embarrassed by the mass graves, torture chambers and grotesque palaces discovered after the war – to change the subject and relieve themselves
of the shame of having opposed the liberation of 25 million people."

This is revisionism. It fails to address the issue of threat posed to the national security of the US, the UK and Australia by Iraq's WMD. We went to war because containment did not work, and we could not wait for the UN inspectors to do their work due to the threat being serious and imminent. It was the imminency of the threat to national security that was the key. But this is what is being glossed over.

The critics are not saying that the threat was phony. The threat was "hyped" to the extent that it was not supported by the evidence about the capacity of Iraqi delivery systems to deliver WMD or about the substantive links to Al Quaida.

Saying that the Iraqi regime had WMD's (that was agreed by all) does not establish the seriousness or the imminency of the threat to the national security of the above three nation-states. The issue is that it appears clear that it that Saddam Hussein's regime did not represent a 'clear and serious threat' to the national security of the US, the UK or Australia. To say otherwise without the evidence to back it up is to engage in deception.

William Shawcross is outraged by this line of criticism. He too neatly dodges the imminent threat issue. But at least he has the honesty to address the geopolitical situation in the Middle East by connecting the war with Iraq to the defence of Israel. But no mention of empire.

Krauthammer's text is threadbare. It is using journalism as a sledgehammer. By publishing it The Australian undercuts its own creditabilty. Polemics replaces journalism. The Australian is doing what it did during the war: refusing to engage with the arguments of its opponents.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:55 PM | | Comments (0)