Ahh, but I was so much older then ...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

Many reputations have been destroyed in past four years, none more so than that of Christopher Hitchens. Given him credit for pretending to confront this fact here, but not, alas, much else. A few examples:

Was the president right or wrong to go to the United Nations in September 2002 and to say that body could no longer tolerate Saddam Hussein's open flouting of its every significant resolution, from weaponry to human rights to terrorism?

A majority of the member states thought he was right and had to admit that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake. It was scandalous that such a regime could for more than a decade have violated the spirit and the letter of the resolutions that had allowed a cease-fire after the liberation of Kuwait. The Security Council, including Syria, voted by nine votes to zero that Iraq must come into full compliance or face serious consequences.

Yes, well, all of the above is true of Israel, vis-à-vis the U.N. Does Hitchens think the U.S. and Britain should invade Israel and execute its leaders? And are we at war in any of the other nations -- say, Sudan -- whose actions are unarguably worse? If violation of the will of the Security Council were a reason to go to war, then, need I add, the rest of the world would have good reason to invade the U.S. too.

Was it then correct to send military forces to the Gulf, in case Saddam continued his long policy of defiance, concealment, and expulsion or obstruction of U.N. inspectors?

If you understand the history of the inspection process at all, you must concede that Saddam would never have agreed to readmit the inspectors if coalition forces had not made their appearance on his borders and in the waters of the Gulf. It was never a choice between inspection and intervention: It was only the believable threat of an intervention that enabled even limited inspections to resume."

True, but this is an argument for containment, not for war, since it was war that ended the successful inspections as well as the successful containment regime that the U.S. might have led if we had more intelligent leadership.

Was the terror connection not exaggerated?

Not by much.

This one is just pathetic -- and self-refuting. What is it that Christopher knows that 16 -- count 'em, 16 -- U.S. intelligence agencies and the Senate Intelligence Committee do not about Saddam's connection to terrorists? Does Christopher have no editors at Slate to save him from this kind of embarrassment?

A few points of interest did emerge from [Colin] Powell's presentation: The Iraqi authorities were caught on air trying to mislead U.N inspectors (nothing new there), and the presence in Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a very dangerous al-Qaida refugee from newly liberated Afghanistan, was established. The full significance of this was only to become evident later on.

Hitchens has been saying this since the war began; for instance, here when we debated on Charlie Rose. I cannot believe he honestly thinks it relevant. As anyone who knows anything about Iraq knows -- and I don't claim to know much -- even Colin Powell admitted at the United Nations on February 5, 2003, that Zarqawi's group, Ansar al-Islam, operated "in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq," before mentioning the medical treatment. I wrote about that here. In other words, Saddam Hussein had nothing whatever to do with Zarqawi's being in Iraq; he had no say in the matter. What Hitchens is doing here is no different than lying. As someone who used to admire my friend, I find this terribly sad. And again, I don't expect Christopher to have any shame at this point, but Slate sure as hell should.

Sad, sad, sad.

How weird and screwed up is it that Rolling Stone turns out to be the single best place to go to get an understanding of where we stand on Iraq and what our future options are?

When I said I thought the media were "married to McCain," I thought I was speaking metaphorically.

Correction:

Last Thursday I wrote:

Time Columnist Countdown, March 26, 2007, edition

The roundup:

1) Time's Joe Klein, sucking up to conservative Christian Republican Mike Huckabee.

2) The Weekly Standard's Charles Krauthammer, condescending to Vice President Gore (and other "limousine liberal hypocrisy").

3) The Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson on Iran's ambassador (only two-thirds of a column).

4) (and if we include Time online) The Weekly Standard's William Kristol on Newt Gingrich.

The numbers:

Number of columnists who are conservatives (and neo-conservatives of various stripes) whose primary political motivation is hatred of liberals: 3

Number of columnists who are liberals: 0

Number of columnists who had the good sense to oppose the Iraq war: 0 (unless Walter did and I missed it)

Number of columnists who have accused those who did oppose it of a lack of patriotism: 3

Number of columnists who happen to be psychiatrists and joked, "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," when Gore gave his prophetic speech warning against the Bush invasion of Iraq, and who are invited again by Time to further slander Gore without any sense of responsibility for his past record for his false and slanderous record with regard to the man: 1

But I was thumbing through the magazine last night and noticed that I had missed Rick Brookhiser with a column inside the issue, picking on Democrats. So the actual numbers should have read:

Time Columnist Countdown, March 26, 2007, edition

The roundup:

1) Time's Joe Klein, sucking up to conservative Christian Republican Mike Huckabee.

2) The Weekly Standard's Charles Krauthammer, condescending to Vice President Gore (and other "limousine liberal hypocrisy").

3) The Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson on Iran's ambassador (only two-thirds of a column).

4) National Review's Rick Brookhiser on why Democrats should not oppose the war too much.

5) (and if we include Time online) The Weekly Standard's William Kristol on Newt Gingrich.

The numbers:

Number of columnists who are conservatives (and neo-conservatives of various stripes) whose primary political motivation is hatred of liberals: 3

Number of columnists who are conservatives (and neo-conservatives of various stripes) whose primary political motivation is not hatred of liberals: 1

Number of columnists who are liberals: 0

Number of columnists who had the good sense to oppose the Iraq war: 0 (unless Walter did and I missed it)

Number of columnists who have accused those who did oppose it of a lack of patriotism: 3

Number of columnists who happen to be psychiatrists and joked, "It looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again," when Gore gave his prophetic speech warning against the Bush invasion of Iraq, and who are invited again by Time to further slander Gore without any sense of responsibility for his past record for his false and slanderous record with regard to the man: 1

My apologies.

And remember, until it hired Mike Kinsley -- who is defending Alberto Gonzales this week -- this was Time's most liberal columnist. (Hard to say which is sillier: that "liberals" get divorces and cheat but conservatives don't, or that Newt, McCain, etc., are "moderates.")

From the Benton Foundation:

CPB SEEKS HELP IN DEFINING BALANCE [SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]

At a Media Institute lunch in Washington on Monday, Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, says the CPB has sought outside help --including from the Carnegie Corp. and the deans of several journalism schools -- to "define journalistic objectivity and balance on public broadcasting." She also says she is concerned that the FCC's crackdown on content could chill the kind of creative programming CPB is chartered to encourage. Harrison made it clear that it was not her job to define balance and reiterated the importance of the firewall between the government and PBS programmers. "I'm not coming up with a definition," she said. "That's not my job. That is why one of the ways to go is to have this discussion [with journalism schools and others]." She said her opinion of what is balanced and objective is worthless, saying that where "you get in trouble" is thinking of that call as an individual approach. She said she did not know what the outcome would be, but that "sitting down and having the conversation" about whether "in the aggregate, over 40 years, are these programs balanced and objective," is a conversation worth having. She also said studies show that "public media consumers already believe noncommercial TV is nonpartisan and unbiased. Pointing to CPB's statutorily mandated goal of balance on controversial issues, she suggested one of the gray areas was blogging. She pointed to Minnesota Public Radio which is encouraging citizen journalists. "Are they under the same requirements for fairness and balance? Do they count as journalists?"

Go Petey!

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL

Eric --

I was sitting in the Frankfurt airport yesterday, and all around me were young members of a US marine unit on their way home after a training stint. None them showed any interest in the CNN reports of Gonzales' numbered days. But many of them took notice when the screens showed footage of the peace demonstrations around the world this weekend. One nearby told me their unit would be in Iraq soon, and they seemed particularly interested in a spokesperson for Iraq Veterans Against the War. Sensing some regret, I didn't have the heart to ask why they'd signed up.

If only they'd paid a little more attention to how the US attorney fiasco has unfolded, they'd see that this administration is all politics all the time, with no regard for the casualties. What's infuriating is that with the responsibility of all that power, the administration has no more regard for soldiers in Iraq or for a CIA covert operative who dedicated her career to controlling WMD. I'm not naive enough to think that all of those marines signed up for purely idealistic reasons, but to see their commitments treated with such disrespect is beyond contempt.

Name: Traven
Hometown: Seattle

Eric,

One thing I have never understood about the whole Valerie Plame controversy is how Cheney, Libby, Rove and the Republicans (including Brit Hume) have been able to even make an issue of whether or not Valerie Plame chose her husband to go on a "junket" to Niger. A junket? To Niger? A no-salary, expenses-only "junket" to Niger? I repeat, to Niger? How is this even an issue? I'm sorry, but no one in their right mind would consider any kind of trip to Niger a junket. Paris, yes, Sydney, sure -- but Niger? What I can't understand is why no one in the media (or in the Democratic Party) has even questioned the logic of the charge of "nepotism" -- what kind of sweet deal is a free week in Niamey?

Name: Kirsten
Hometown: Berkeley

I can't help having a creepy feeling that this whole scandal of the firing of the 8 US attorneys is fabricated to distract from more criminal activities at the highest levels of this administration. It is indeed bad enough behavior to warrant the shock and outrage it is receiving, and yet, it is so far not illegal. How much media time/space and congressional hearing time will be occupied by this, instead of continuing to investigate the truly criminal goings on? It makes me wonder all the more, what else is going on? Conspiracy theory? You bet! Just because it sounds like I could be wearing a foil hat doesn't make it impossible.

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