The Martial Plan

Mark Perry

Washington’s liberal, progressive, Democrat-oriented, anti-Bush newspaper — the Washington Post — has weighed in on a prospective war against Iran. They’re all for it.

If you don’t believe me, it is worth reading the lead editorial in the Post‘s December 16 edition, entitled “A Mideast Counteroffensive.” The Post takes its lead from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust conference and the “seige” of Lebanon’s government by the “extremist Hezbollah movement” whose “attempted coup has been egged on by Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad.” To counter these “threats” (or, as the Post would have it, “the reckless regional offensive by the Iranian-Syrian alliance”), the Post recommends the United States launch a Middle East counteroffensive. What form should this “counteroffensive” take? “What is urgently needed is decisive steps by the United States and its allies to counter the extremists and to force them to pay a price for their aggression.”

The breadth of the Post‘s condemnation of Iran and Syria is so stunning, so out-of-the-ordinary, and so dangerously jingoistic, that it is hard to imagine a more brazen call for military action. The words border on the irrational — that is to say, a reversal of all that we know of what is actually happening in the Middle East. Neither Iran nor Syria have invaded any Middle East country, both nations condemned 9/11, and both nations (but most especially Iran), provided desperately needed resources for the unseating of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. And in return for this? Iranian leaders was insultingly lectured by Zalmay Khalilzad on their “regional responsibilities,” while Syrian leader Bashar Assad was given the same treatment in a 2004 visit by Pentagon guru Peter Rodman, who presented the Syrian leader with a list of “demands” that he would have to meet in order not to be attacked by the United States.

Not to mention: U.S. troops are in both Iraq and Afghanistan (on Iran’s borders), the Prime Minister of Iran’s most feared enemy, Israel, recently admitted to the development of nuclear weapons (and a willingness, under some circumstances, to use them), the U.S. is supplying arms to Fateh to foment civil war in Gaza and the West Bank and, by the way, is doing the same in Lebanon, by building up a government security force called the IFS. Even more recently, Dick Cheney and George Bush traveled to the Middle East to sketch out their notion of a “new security architecture” for the region — which would include the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt and Jordan (the “GCC-plus-two”). Nor is it correct to claim that Hezbollah and Syria are attempting a “coup” in Lebanon. In fact, just the opposite is the case: Hezbollah and its Christian ally have repeated stated their desire for a peaceful resolution of their differences with the government, have mounted peaceful protests in Beirut’s center, have diligently counciled their supporters against provocative acts, and have called for a resumption of the National Dialogue. Those are hardly the actions of a reckless and extreme movement.

Of course, the Post (as is its wont) appears to be reasonable, and progressive and liberal and so it urges the administration to support a UN sanctions resolution against Iran and prod the Security Council to investigate “whether Damascus has respected its resolutions calling for Hezbollah’s disarmament and an end to Syrian weapons trafficking.” This kind of feckless advice is fairly typical: we assume that the Bush Administration is already doing this, as we are sure they are also urging the UN Security Council to enforce UN Resolutions 242 and 338, calling for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian territories. But never mind, the Post then goes on to seal its own views, in a poorly worded but tell-tale sentence that shows just how objective it truly is: “If Mr. Assad succeeds in blocking Lebanese government approval of a tribunal to try those guilty of the Lebanese political murders, the Security Council should establish the court on its own authority.

Which, of course, begs the question: why would the Security Council establish a court to “try the guilty.”

The Post finishes with a flurry: “Realism in the Middle East means understanding that Syria and Iran won’t stop waging war against the United States and its allies unless they are given reasons to fear they might lose.” Quite right. And realism in war means never assuming you will win.


  1. fbd wrote:

    Dear Sir,
    I think the Washington Post article will be one is a series of calculated articles as a response to the Baker-Iraq report which calls for negotiations with Iran and Syria. Some countries and administration officials didn’t like the report. This is their answer to it trying to bury it under thrown sugesstions until it is forgotten.
    I think we will start to see an attitude “hit them” and then “talk to them”. This will be reflected more and more in the media.

  2. J. wrote:

    Don’t confuse the reality of the conservative rantings of the editorial board (led by Fred Hiatt) with the exaggerated reputation of the WashPost as a liberal, anti-Bush newspaper. The Post’s editorial section hasn’t been anti-Bush for about four years now.

  3. bob kuska wrote:

    You mischaracterize the Post. It’s editorial page is headed by Fred Hiatt, who has true right-wing credentials. See the Republican Noise Machine for more details about the Right’s infiltration of the Post. Oops, I just noticed previous poster J. caught your error. Ditto his/her thoughts.

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