“I Told You So” is Not a Good Foreign Policy

As long as complaints centered on the fact that war supporters had gotten it wrong 4 years ago were confined to the blogosphere, I ignored them. But now Chirac is engaging in the same stale rhetoric that makes me go read Thomas Friedman in frustration.

Says Chirac,

As France had foreseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects… This adventure has worsened the divisions among communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq. It has undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and its independence. It has offered terrorism a new field for expansion.

(…)

The priority, more than ever, is to restore full sovereignty to the Iraqi people.

The last sentence makes Chirac’s statement more palatable – “We should withdraw now” is a constructive idea – but the rest is pure crap. France didn’t foresee anything. Most of the French people had a rough idea the war would be a bad idea. But Chirac wasn’t about the only right-wing leader in Europe to oppose the war because of his foresight, but because of a pathological anti-Anglophone hatred.

And even then, Chirac’s statement was a lot better than the usual complaints about why the US media still tilts toward people who supported the war.

It’s not that the media has any inherent bias; it’s that when one side gives a multitude of detailed ideas that won’t work, and the other alternates between sloganeering “Bush lied; people died” and saying “Withdraw now,” the media will tilt toward the former. The sooner activists understand that, the sooner they’ll be able to get the media to adopt the slant they want it to adopt.

7 Responses to “I Told You So” is Not a Good Foreign Policy

  1. The sooner activists understand that, the sooner they’ll be able to get the media to adopt the slant they want it to adopt.

    The problem is that all this time there has been a whole litany of people who, despite being off base in some areas, have none the less been far more consistently right about what would happen in Iraq. Why is the media deferring to perennial gasbags like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer when Bob Dreyfus, Sy Hersh, Scott Ritter, etc. are available?

    I don’t think it speaks to bias on the war, but a certain safety that media outlets enjoy when airing such pundits in spite of their consistent wrongness. Even if they are wrong, they are spouting a conventional wisdom that people expect to hear over the airwaves.

  2. droog says:

    I don’t know you but I found tons of anti-war stuff that was more than the bleating of sheep. It was in all types of media, too. It probably wasn’t sexy or maybe it sounded too punditry, but I remember all the predictions about a long occupation, increased terrorism and civil war. It was discarded as too pessimistic and fabulous. Predictions on the short term invasion were less accurate, I don’t remember anyone predicting that the top Iraqi brass would vanish without putting a major fight in Baghdad.

    I also think that calling Chirac a pathological anti-Anglophone hater over such a foreseeable catastrophy is like calling people who criticize the more atrocious acts of the Israeli government anti-Semitic. The difference between the two is that Chirac was rejecting something that was in the future, unlike criticism of past and present events in the IP conflict. In that sense Chirac would have been more swayed by personal bias than real life observed events. However, Chirac still has a brain, and so do his cabinet members. Just because he has a rabid nationalistic drive and that he always sounds pompous doesn’t mean he didn’t think matters over. France and the US have the Alliance Base in Paris where they do counter-terrorism intel, but that’s a sensible partnership with benefit and respect between both sides. The Coalition of the Willing is a herd of buffalos going off a cliff. It’s hard to blame it on his Anglo-phobia when his decision was sensible and in agreement with the people of France.

  3. Yoram Gat says:

    This entry is pure nonsense from beginning to end: unsubstantiated statements about Chirac, about the pro-Iraq-war position, about the no-Iraq-war position, about the media. Not a piece of evidence in sight. The obvious idea that Big Media has a pro-power bias is not even considered.

    This from a person who claim his sole allegiance is to the supreme law of evidence.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Tyler, the media keeps giving a podium to people who are, well, members of the media. What do you expect? It’s not as if Hersh’s gotten everything right over the years. Pundits get stuff wrong and then refuse to admit it as a matter of routine. Calling that a bias is as sensible as saying the New York Times is biased for not booting Krugman now that he flip-flopped on deficit spending.

  5. Axel says:

    Alon,

    where the hell did you get your information about the pre-war debate in Europe? Fox News? It’s really absurd!

    CRS Report for Congress RL31956: “European Views and Policies Toward the Middle East “, p. 6:

    “Led by France and Germany, European countries opposed to using force to
    disarm Iraq asserted that the case for war had not yet been made. They were
    skeptical of U.S. arguments directly linking Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and did
    not view the threat posed by Iraq as imminent — in part, because they believed that
    the 12 years of international sanctions had limited Iraq’s ability to acquire weapons
    of mass destruction (12). Thus, France, Germany, and others deemed a contained
    Saddam Hussein as a threat they could live with, especially given their judgment that
    war with Iraq would have dangerous and destabilizing consequences. Many
    Europeans feared that toppling Saddam could further fragment the country along
    ethnic and tribal lines, and generate instability.”

    Footnote 12: Many Europeans expressed graver concerns about WMD programs in North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan that have not been subjected to the same degree of international scrutiny. Interviews of European officials, January-March 2003.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Axel, which specific part of the post do you have a problem with – the suggestion Chirac’s main motivation was anti-Americanism?

  7. Axel says:

    “France didn’t foresee anything. Most of the French people had a rough idea the war would be a bad idea.”

    The CRS report ( http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/44134.pdf ) is of excellent quality.

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