After Giving Mea Culpas for Horrible Iraq Coverage, Media Does the Exact Same Thing On Syria

Preface: We wrote this in May. Media coverage has gotten even worse since then.

Common Dreams notes:

Former New York Times’ executive editor Bill Keller is not the only un-’reluctant’ war hawk under fire for publicly pushing for US military intervention in Syria, but for those who remember the media debacle that ushered in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, he has exemplified the troubling trend among the nation’s pro-war punditry class.

Since Keller’s column appeared in the ‘paper of record’ on Monday—following a weekend of disturbing news about Israeli airstrikes inside Syria and amidst shaky reports about “chemical weapons” and “red line” rhetoric—those seeking wiser guidance on the path forward in a deeply fragmented Middle East are hoping that people like Keller, so wrong when it came to Iraq, will be pilloried for their positions on Syria.

Pilloried—then disregarded.

In his op-ed, Keller describes that though his mistaken assessment of the Iraq war may have left him “gun-shy” about Syria at first, he is now of the opinion that the US should flex its military muscle in the war-torn country.

But, stating he was “frankly appalled” by both the “mindlessness” and prominence of Keller’s article in the Times, noted foreign policy analyst Jim Lobe argued the piece is “filled with the same kind of arrogance that [Keller] brought to Iraq as a “reluctant hawk” ten years ago.”

And’s John Glaser characterized the piece as “absurd,” writing:

Keller lays out how terribly wrong he was for supporting the Bush administration’s war of choice in Iraq, and is now asking readers not to collapse in laughter as he speaks with an air of authority on why we should invade, or at least bomb, Syria.

Keller explains that “at the outset of the Iraq invasion, I found myself a reluctant hawk. That turned out to be a humbling error of judgment, and it left me gun-shy.” How harrowing the experience must have been for you, Bill – using your position as an opinion-shaper at the most widely read newspaper in the country to cheer-lead an illegal war that destroyed an entire country, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and cost trillions of dollars.

The Nation’s Greg Mitchell, who literally wrote the book on media malfeasance and the Iraq War, pulled no punches, writing of Keller:

He says he was gun-shy after his Iraq flub—but no more! Now he derides Obama for “looking for excuses to stand pat.” He also provides several reasons why Syria is “not Iraq,” and how now his hawkishness is based on reality: This time we really can hurt the terrorists gathered there, [never mind that we are actually supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorists in Syria] really can calm tensions in the region, and so on. Instead of a “mushroom cloud,” he warns of the next chemical “atrocity.” And he claims there’s a broader coalition of the willing this time.

He even revives the good old “domino theory,” endorsing the view that if we don’t do something in Syria it will embolden China, North Korea and Iran. And I love this one, straight from 2003: Doing nothing “includes the danger that if we stay away now, we will get drawn in later (and bigger), when, for example, a desperate Assad drops sarin on a Damascus suburb….” If a surge in aid for those Al Qaeda–lovin’ rebels fails against Assad, then we “send missiles against his military installations until he, or more likely those around him, calculate that they should sue for peace.” Yeah, how did that work out in Iraq in the long run? ***

What good would a US military campaign possibly achieve? Looking back on Iraq—even to ignore the justifications of war, say experts—shows that the US is ill-equipped to fulfill its promises to delivery democracy, stability, both, or either.

As Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in the Washington Post on Tuesday, “after war, years of occupation, many lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, we have not been able to create a stable regime, power sharing or an end to the political violence.”


Filmmaker Michael Moore’s tweet that concluded thus:

Bill Keller of the NYTimes was wrong about Iraq but now wants 2 bomb Syria. Will some adult pls take his laptop away?

Common Dreams also points out that the U.S. claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons is highly dubious. Indeed, a U.N investigator said – and on-the-ground reports confirm – that the Syrian government likely did not use chemical weapons.

In reality, it’s not just Iraq and Syria … the corporate media is always pro-war.

In addition, wars today are fought on the Web as well as on the battlefield … and Syria is no different.

Agence France-Press reported yesterday:

The Twitter feed of satirical US news website The Onion appeared to have been hacked Monday by a Syrian group aiming to inject its own sardonic spin on the deadly conflict.


“UN retracts report of Syrian chemical weapon use: ‘Lab tests confirm it is Jihadi body odor,’” said one tweet, still available in a screenshot on news blogs after being deleted.

Another tweet said: “UN’s Ban Ki Moon condemns Syria for being struck by israel: ‘It was in the way of Jewish missiles.’”


“Either @TheOnion has been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army, or this is its most convincing stunt ever,” one tweet said.

Another user tweeted: “The Onion’s Twitter feed has been hacked and yet it is still a more reliable news source than CNN.”

The Syrian Electronic Army, which appears to be aligned with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, has previously claimed credit for hacking Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press and other news organizations.

No wonder someone has knocked Syria off the web.

Americans Are Sick of War

We noted last month than Congress is less popular than North Korea, cockroaches, lice, root canals, colonoscopies, traffic jams, used car salesmen, Genghis Khan, Communism, BP during the Gulf oil spill, Nixon during Watergate or King George during the American Revolution.

The Washington Post notes today that a Syria intervention is less popular than Congress.  So that means that the American people would much rather get a root canal or a colonoscopy than bomb Syria.

Indeed, while John Kerry announced today that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, Reuters noted:

The polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans’ resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East.

The bottom line is that Americans are sick of war.


Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

22 Responses to “Media’s Reporting on Syria as Terrible as It Was on Iraq”

  1. [...] Iraq – Google Blog Search | Media's Reporting on Syria as Terrible as It Was on Iraq | The… [...]

  2. ilsm says:

    Iraq, Afghanistan expensive failures.

    Why would the US change the Vietnam paradigm and want to support insurgents, who are likely a branch of al Qaeda, over a ruthless dictator?

    Drone strikes are not an answer, unless you are a military industry congress complex supplier.

    At a million or two bucks, from the moral high ground not using nerve gas, land mine or cluster munitions, to kill a terrorist the US can make some people rich, but cannot prove that the military industry congress complex suppliers can kill enough terrorists, or ruthless dictator’s draftees to change their minds, whatever the terrorists or ruthless dictator might be thinking.

  3. MikeNY says:

    Americans should be sick of war.

    50 years after the March on Washington, we are proposing, yet again, to spend billions or tens of billions to bomb another distant country, but we still can’t muster the will to lift a third of our own nation out of destitution and despair.

  4. DuchessGateau says:

    So the US Air Force MUST attack Syria if it is ‘discovered’ that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. Because that is so wrong, and we need to protect the Syrian people. Don’t ask Congress to authorize it because it’s a dire emergency! However, if someone else used chemical weapons, we do nothing to them, because it’s just embarrassing? Continue to support war criminals and pretend it’s totally fine? Frankly I hope it’s simply more endless hype.

    Our politicians and media prefer fake reasons for war, which they change them to fit the needs of the moment. The media spends more time scripting than reporting. It’s insulting that our leaders can’t be bothered to offer a plausible justification for war anymore. No matter, the Brits will come up with something. Let’s see, what’s Tony Blair doing for his pay? It’s all so predictable… 5 hours ago:

  5. Robert M says:

    The problem here is the US is injecting itself into a war that has its basic and overriding roots in the schism within the religion of Islam; Shi’a vs Sunni. Under no circumstances will US military intervention have a positive course for our country or those people who survive the reformation of Islam within the nationalist setting it is occurring.

  6. BennyProfane says:

    Love to know how many of these pundits have children or relatives in the military. We all know that Congress and the White House have practically zero.

  7. NoKidding says:

    “We noted last month than Congress is less popular than North Korea, cockroaches, lice, root canals, colonoscopies, traffic jams, used car salesmen, Genghis Khan, Communism, BP during the Gulf oil spill, Nixon during Watergate or King George during the American Revolution.”

    Yet 91 percent of congressmen were reelected in the last elections. THe Rs wond vote for Ds, the Ds wont vote for Rs, and nobody else is in the game.

    Rendering popularity meaningless.

  8. wally says:

    More money for Halliburton; for Aegis; for General Dynamics.
    Let’s drop all this ‘moral’ pretense, which is a flimsy fraud at best, and get to the heart of the matter. There are huge pro-war lobbies in Washington who will buy many, many politicians in order to get the profit streams flowing again.

  9. mllange says:

    What most people do not understand is the relationship between the Federal Reserve and war. The Federal Reserve is responsible for every economic difficulty that afflicts our nation. Without a Federal Reserve creating fiat paper currency out of thin air, an empire could not wage continuous war. There is no clearer proof than evaluating major U.S. military conflicts prior to 1913 versus after the creation of the Federal Reserve. Between 1791 and 1913 (122 years) the U.S. engaged in only four major conflicts:

    · War of 1812

    · Mexican-American War

    · Civil War

    · Spanish-American War

    Only the War Between the States can be considered significant and it was fought solely on U.S. soil. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 by bankers in collusion with politicians in Washington DC. This private central bank, run by a cartel of major banks, has encouraged politicians to wage war. Continuous conflict enriches bankers, as all the money used to wage war is borrowed from them. This may explain why between 1913 and 2010 (97 years) the U.S. has engaged in eleven significant foreign conflicts:

    · World War I

    · World War II

    · Korean War

    · Vietnam War

    · Grenada Invasion

    · Panama Invasion

    · Gulf War

    · Somalia

    · Kosovo War

    · Afghan War

    · Iraq War

    Above and beyond these actual conflicts, we engaged in a 46 year Cold War with the Soviet Union that involved funding opponents to communism, coups, and assassination of foreign leaders. This Cold War was used as an excuse to station troops in over a 100 foreign countries, creation of the military industrial complex and creation of a secret spy agency, the CIA. Conveniently, when the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, a new amorphous war was created by politicians and their bankers. The nebulous War on Terror has been exploited to create the Department of Homeland Security and passage of the Orwellian Patriot Act, which allows the government to violate Americans’ right to privacy in the name of National Security. The War on Terror is used as the reason for invading foreign countries and using predator drones to blow up whoever our leaders feel is a threat. The cost for the War on Terror thus far has been $2.3 TRILLION. There are trillions more to be wasted because you can never win a war on terror. Who benefits from a never ending war on terror? Every dime of the $2.3 trillion has been borrowed. The beneficiaries of debt are bankers, as they reap billions in profits and pay themselves millions in bonuses. The money that is loaned to the government is then paid to the companies that constitute the military industrial complex. These companies then buy the support of Congress for their new and improved killing machines. This encompasses the circle of death in Washington DC.

  10. DeDude says:

    War is always a huge money maker for the media. When the US military gets into action the people sits plastered to their TV screens licking up the action and the commercials interrupting it at regular intervals. Journalists have a huge incentive to drum up war sentiments. Obama’s huge mistake was to do a “line in the sand” remark, now the media have him on the hook for at least a few hundred cruise missiles.

  11. Expat says:

    So the issue that Americans are too busy eating cheeseburgers and watching Oprah to take time out to “agonize” about war.
    What about the legitimacy of slaughtering another country’s civilian population on the basis of lies?
    Oh, well. Just a bunch of Arabs. Who cares, right?

  12. carleric says:

    I can only pray that we are not stupid enough to go back to the Middle East to stop a sectaian rife in the muslim religion….I will take the less humanitarian stance…let musims kill muslims…heck there is not even any oil in Syria.

    • BennyProfane says:

      It’s not all Muslim vs. Muslim. There is a Christian minority in both Egypt and Syria caught in the middle.

  13. Herman Frank says:

    Face reality, get your head around it, accept it: “The USA cannot force two ideologies in a religion to change to a level where either or both would be acceptable, lovely, cuddly or “just plain” to us.”

    Impossible at all levels. Not by bombing one side to smithereens or supplying arms to the other. It’s an ideological fight, supported by ideological groups of nations on either side.

    Stay out! Support the refugee camps in the neighboring countries, put an embargo in place, tell the Russians, Chinese and anyone else that their citizens will not take gently to their leaders if they are overly siding with murderous tyrants ….. but STAY OUT!

  14. contrabandista13 says:

    We do not have a dog in this fight, I mean Wazzzzz up…!

    • NoKidding says:

      Oil pipeline from the ME to Europe busts Gazprom, which is the same as kicking Putin in the nuts.

  15. 873450 says:

    Americans Are Sick of War.

    90% of Americans support firearm purchaser background checks. – FAIL
    90% of Americans want TBTF broke up, criminally prosecuted and convicted fraudsters jailed. – FAIL
    90% of Americans want major infrastructure investment. – FAIL

    It is not inconceivable conjecture to imagine just about every nation in that region consumed by religious civil war, foreign invasion/occupation, revolutionary overthrow of billionaire military dictators, revolutionary overthrow of billionaire royal monarchs – all at the same time.

    What Americans want means almost nothing when the war lobby enriching captured politicians wants something else. Money will determine the extent of U.S. war involvement. Our elected Congress doesn’t give a flying fuck about what Americans want.

  16. WallaWalla says:

    The Iraq war was the biggest mistake of this generation.

    We squandered valuable resources without levying taxes and lost the little moral authority we had on the intentional stage.

    And now, when there exists a great moral need for multilateral intervention of some sort, we are left standing on the side with no politically feasible options.

    Let’s not forget the Bosnian conflict. The United States and it’s NATO allies successfully ended a bitter sectarian civil war. In doing so, we even gained the respect of the Bosnian population. Bosnia is one of the few (only?) majority Muslim countries with a favorable opinion of the united states. Granted, there are stark differences between these conflicts, but it’s important to point out that these sorts of interventions can be tactfully accomplished.

    I don’t agree with the premise of this article. Even if there are some of the same media a**hats disingenuously promoting warfare, the run up to Iraq was starkly different from the current situation in syria. Before Iraq, the government was actively pushing the media towards the whitehouse’s skewed talking points – now the opposite is true. It seems the whitehouse would very much like to take back its line in the sand comments. Before Iraq, there was only circumstantial evidence provided by the CIA and MI6 implicating possible WMD manufacture – now there is growing international agreement over actual use of chemical weapons, indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations, massacres and mass killings, and so on.

    If only more Americans would travel abroad. You get a very different perspective on life after seeing the effects of modern warfare.

  17. Apinak says:

    What is most disturbing is that all the people who were wrong about Iraq are still in positions of power and influence and anyone who was right about Iraq is still considered a dirty hippy and ignored.

    Failing upward is becoming the defining characteristic of modern politics and the media.

  18. [...] Media’s Reporting on Syria as Terrible as It Was on Iraq ( [...]

  19. [...] Media’s Reporting on Syria as Terrible as It Was on Iraq ( [...]