Using the "O" Word

The Iraq Study Group’s report on what to do about Iraq is due out next Wednesday, but the gist of it has been made public. They say it is somewhere between “stay the course” and “cut and run.” Historian Andrew Bacevitch is under no delusions regarding the real agenda of the ISG:

Even as Washington waits with bated breath for the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to release its findings, the rest of us should see this gambit for what it is: an attempt to deflect attention from the larger questions raised by America’s failure in Iraq and to shore up the authority of the foreign policy establishment that steered the United States into this quagmire. This ostentatiously bipartisan panel of Wise Men (and one woman) can’t really be searching for truth. It is engaged in damage control.

Speaking of Iraq, NBC made the “bold” move to start calling the Iraq imbroglio a “civil war” despite the White House’s objections. The NY Times, LA Times and other media quickly followed suit. While their somewhat self-congratulatory announcement is certainly welcome, it seems a little late. They’ve finally found the resolve to report things as they are, instead of how Bush says they are. Uh, great. Wasn’t that their job all along? Where were they in the build-up to the war? They were it’s obsequious cheerleaders! Perhaps, like the Democrats, seeing which way the political winds blow, they’ve decided to change their spin. Am I being cynical? Do they think we’ve already forgotten their bellicose boosterism in 2003? While NBC concedes calling it a “civil war” could erode public support, I’d love to hear them admit they were instrumental in building public support for the war in the first place.

John Nichols lays it out in “News Flash: Major Media Begins to Think for Itself”:

An emboldened media is more symptom than cause. Likewise, the recent Democratic victories were due to plummeting public support for the war, the only meaningful protest people could make in our rigged electoral system. It wasn’t because of a huge enthusiasm for the Democratic party. Democrats enjoyed a landslide because Republicans screwed up so miserably that Democrats became less distasteful than the alternative. But you can’t make a policy out of reliance on your opponent’s mistakes.

I’m still pulling for systemic change, change that addresses the endemic corruption in Washington, corporate control of the levers of power, and so on. I’m still waiting for NBC to announce that the US attacked Iraq in a corporate-inspired bid to control its oil. That’s the kind of truth-telling we need to move out of our own quagmire of deceit. But, frankly, I’m not expecting NBC to lead on that one. When they finally use the “O-word” it will be because they were forced to by overwhelming public disgust with their establishment spin. It will be because they have to choose between telling the truth and their own irrelevancy. It will be because we will have already won.