Pundits ‘Nod Sagely’ at Madness of War

A January 23 New York Times column by Bob Herbert distilled the message of Barack Obama’s nascent administration as “No more crazy wars.” FAIR associate Norman Solomon’s reaction (AfterDowningStreet.org, 1/26/09): “I wish.” Lamenting the current “narrowness of political vision–while news outlets are reporting that the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is expected to ‘as much as double this year to 60,000 troops'”–Solomon recalls the Lyndon Baines Johnson inaugural speech that “foreshadowed the massive slaughtering of people in Vietnam”:

Pundits and congressional leadership nodded sagely as the president cited the threat of Communism and proceeded to boost U.S. troop levels in Vietnam. Similar nodding–and nodding off–is now underway as the president cites the threat of terrorism and prepares to boost U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan….

Lyndon Johnson’s capacity to deliver on hopes for a Great Society shattered on the jagged steel of a war that, year after year, few pundits were willing to acknowledge was crazy….

Several weeks ago, a Bob Herbert column made a practical moral argument: “Sending thousands of additional men and women (some to die, some to be horribly wounded) on a fool’s errand in the rural, mountainous guerrilla paradise of Afghanistan would be madness.”

Days after the inauguration, the news has included a fresh spate of stories about Afghan civilians killed by U.S. missiles. Hamid Karzai, in effect the president of Kabul, declared that the Pentagon’s frequent killing of civilians in Afghanistan “is strengthening the terrorists.” And so it goes.

Solomon’s reminder to today’s journalists: “Escalation of a crazy war will make it crazier. Pretending otherwise will not make it any less insane–or any less destructive.” Listen to the FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “Norman Solomon on Obama’s Inauguration” (1/23/09)