Cross-posted from Consortium News
President Barack Obama touches the Marshall Plaque at Michie Stadium upon arrival for the United States Military Academy at West Point commencement in West Point, N.Y., May 28, 2014.
(image by (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))
As American neocons continue to shape the narratives that define the permissible boundaries for U.S. foreign policy thinking, the failure to enforce any meaningful accountability on them for their role in the criminal and disastrous invasion of Iraq has become painfully clear.
In any vibrant democratic system, it would be unthinkable that the neocons and other war hawks who yahooed the United States into Iraq a little more than a decade ago would still be exercising control over how Americans perceive today's events. Yet, many of the exact same pundits and pols who misled the American people then are still misleading them today.
Yet, you're not supposed to know that. Anyone who dares explain the actual narrative of what happened in Ukraine is immediately accused of spreading "Russian propaganda." The preferred U.S. narrative of white-hat "pro-democracy" protesters victimized by black-hat villain Yanukovych with the help of the even more villainous Vladimir Putin is so much more fun. It lets Americans cheer as ethnic Russians in the east are burned alive by neo-Nazi mobs and mowed down by Ukrainian military aircraft.
Diehl and his boss, editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, are precisely the same neocon propagandists who told Americans in 2002 and early 2003 that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Hiatt and Diehl didn't write that as an allegation or a suspicion, but as flat fact. Yet, it turned out to be flatly untrue -- and hundreds of thousands of people, including nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers, died as a result of the war.
But don't worry: the careers of Diehl and Hiatt didn't suffer. They're still in their same influential jobs a dozen years later, framing how we should understand Syria, Ukraine and the rest of the world.
And, if Hiatt and his editorial board had their way, American troops would still be patrolling Iraq. On Wednesday, the Post's lead editorial condemned President Barack Obama for not maintaining permanent U.S. military forces in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan -- and not getting deeper into the Syrian civil war.
"You can't fault President Obama for inconsistency," the Post's editorial sneered...
"After winning election in 2008, he reduced the U.S. military presence in Iraq to zero. After helping to topple Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, he made sure no U.S. forces would remain. He has steadfastly stayed aloof, except rhetorically, from the conflict in Syria. And on Tuesday he promised to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
"The Afghan decision would be understandable had Mr. Obama's previous choices proved out. But what's remarkable is that the results also have been consistent -- consistently bad."
The neocons, including the Post's editorialists, voice outrage when Obama paints them with a broad brush as obsessed with putting American boots on the ground. But how can one read that editorial and not recognize that what the neocons want is not just temporary U.S. boots on the ground but to have them cemented into these countries as permanent occupiers?
Then, over at the New York Times, you can read the wisdom of Thomas L. Friedman, another star promoter of the Iraq War who infamously kept telling Americans every six months that the grinding war would look better in six months but it never did.
Friedman, who may be the most overrated columnist in American history, is now asserting what he trusts will become the new conventional wisdom on Ukraine, that Putin lost the Ukraine crisis. On Wednesday, Friedman wrote "In the end, it was Putinism versus Obamaism, and I'd like to be the first on my block to declare that the 'other fellow' -- Putin -- 'just blinked.'"
According to Friedman, the Ukraine crisis...
"...may be the first case of post-post-Cold War brinkmanship, pitting the 21st century versus the 19th. It pits a Chinese/Russian worldview that says we can take advantage of 21st-century globalization whenever we want to enrich ourselves, and we can behave like 19th-century powers whenever we want to take a bite out of a neighbor -- versus a view that says, no, sorry, the world of the 21st century is not just interconnected but interdependent and either you play by those rules or you pay a huge price."
As with Hiatt and Diehl, one has to wonder how Friedman can be so disconnected from his own record as an eager imperialist when it came to U.S. desires for "regime change" in a variety of disliked countries. While it may be true that the United States hasn't taken bites out of its immediate neighbors recently -- although there were U.S.-backed coups in Honduras, Haiti and Venezuela in the 21st Century -- the U.S. government has taken numerous bites out of other countries halfway around the world.
And, as for playing by the "rules," Friedman's "exceptional" America sets its own rules. [For more on how this style of propaganda relates to Ukraine, see Consortiumnews.com's "NYT's One-Sided Ukraine Narrative."]
Friedman's schoolyard taunt about Putin having "blinked" also is at best a superficial rendering of the recent developments in Ukraine and a failure to recognize the long-term harm that Official Washington's tough-guy-ism over Ukraine has done to genuine U.S. national interests by shoving Russia and China closer together. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Premature US Victory-Dancing on Ukraine."]