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Baiting, Not Debating

excerpts from a report by Robert Parry. June 27, 2005

A few years ago as the Iraq War loomed, I had breakfast in Washington with a prominent out-of-town liberal thinker who was expecting a Great Debate about war and peace, between the merits of invading Iraq and finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. I stifled any overt sign of disbelief so as not to be rude, but I had worked in Washington for a quarter century. I had watched the rise of the neoconservatives in the 1980s and the consolidation of conservative media power in the 1990s. It was painfully clear that the nation was headed for a Great Baiting, not a Great Debate.

There should have been no doubt what would happen to anyone who questioned George W. Bush’s case for war. The dissenters would be baited, ridiculed, marginalized, and drowned out by accusations of disloyalty as well as epithets about “Saddam sympathizers.” Which is, of course, what happened. War critics were treated like fringe nut cases, while nearly every major Washington pundit fell for the Bush administration’s deceptions about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Just look at the editorial pages on Feb. 6, 2003, the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations.

Now, amid the rising death toll in Iraq, a hopeful new line from some pundits is that the nation is on the cusp of a serious debate about the war’s future – as Bush finally levels with the American people, regains their trust and enlists them in the sacrifices ahead.

In one of these columns, published by the Washington Post, The New Republic’s editor Peter Beinart observed that “a plurality of Americans now believe they were ‘deliberately misled’ before the war. When the president talks to the country about Iraq on Tuesday night, he needs to address that.

“Otherwise, he’ll never have the credibility to tell Americans the harsh truth: that Iraqi troops won’t be ready to defend their government for two years or more. And until they can, brave young U.S. soldiers will have to keep doing the job.” [Washington Post, June 26, 2005]

You have been reading excerpts from "Baiting, Not Debating" by Robert Parry. You can read the entire article here: consortiumnews.com/2005/062605.html. We love Robert Parry's website, ConsortiumNews.com, and we hope you will too.

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