Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Newspaper for Old Fashioned Morality

Last Sunday, the New York Times marked in print the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War by publishing nine essays written by Beltway insiders, Bush administration apologists, and disreputable jingoists, almost every one of whom either got it flat wrong at the outset of the war or who are, themselves, war criminals.

Yesterday, readers responded the old fashioned way -- with letters to the (anonymous, always anonymous) NYT editor who issued the invitations to such a disreputable group of pertinacious miscreants. Every one of them echoes the sentiments of Times reader Edwin M. Walker:
You enabled the Iraq war with your cheerleading reportage, and you continue to provide a forum for its blinkered defenders, Richard Perle, Frederick Kagan, Danielle Pletka, Kenneth M. Pollack and L. Paul Bremer III.

They were wrong at the beginning, and continue to be wrong. They hide their defective judgment behind excuses that someone stabbed them in the back, or that they were in good company in their disproven beliefs, and argue that we should forget about their history of failure and take their advice now.

They are an insult to public discourse, but you continue to enable them.

As Prof. David Bromwich put the question two days ago in a thoroughly devastating take-down of the Times' execrable coverage, "Can no quantity of errant judgments and measurable wrongs to the country remove a person from the establishment list?"

The evident answer is "no." For proof, read yesterday's Reuters report about three State Department diplomats who in 2003 "abruptly ended prestigious careers and gained international attention by noisily resigning in protest over the U.S. war in Iraq."

What's happened to them? Take a glance:
Now a resident of Athens, Greece, [John Brady] Kiesling and two others that followed him in resigning, John Brown and Mary Ann Wright, said leaving their diplomatic careers had been hard.

"I've had to tighten my belt," said Brown, 59, who served in London as well as Moscow, Prague and Belgrade. "I have to be very careful about my budget."

Wright, 61, who helped reestablish the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2001, has become active in the anti-war movement. She relies on the hospitality of others as she travels to rallies and events.

Kiesling says he lives in a modest one-bedroom apartment and relies on a bicycle and walking to get around.
Still, they have no regrets.
"The decision I took was the best decision I've ever made in my life," said ...Kiesling, 50, who had served as a a political officer in Greece, Armenia and Morocco.
* * *
"Our gesture earned us a brief moment in the media and the cautious respect of our colleagues. Five years later, we do not regret our decision to leave the profession we loved."
Plainly, someone at the New York Times hasn't learned a thing in the last five years. In the country of the New York Times, demonstrated incompetence and minds that have proven themselves to be so dull, poisoned, or undependable as to reach all the wrong judgments on the weighty issue of going to war, are worthy of editorial space. Those with competence and high principles are not.

Little wonder the dead tree press is in trouble. It not only admires but enables exactly the wrong sort of person.

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