Fair, Balanced, Full Of It

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Bolstering one of their countless attacks on Bill O'Reilly, the folks at Media Matters have compiled a list of wrong-headed predictions by Fox News military analysts. It makes for some seriously tragicomic reading.

[Col. David Hunt], whom O'Reilly has described as "the feistiest guy we have" [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/27/03], repeatedly attempted to link Saddam to terrorism, predicted that the U.N.'s refusal to support U.S. military action in Iraq signaled "the end of the United Nations" [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/7/03], and suggested that Saddam would "torch[] his country in facing the United Nations inspectors" [The Big Story with John Gibson 12/19/02]. … Further, Hunt mocked retired Gen. Wesley Clark's apparent suggestion on CNN that the troops lacked sufficient armored vehicles, a claim that was later proved to be accurate, stating: "Excuse me. There aren't enough armored vehicles? Wah, wah, wah."

The Oliver North entry is pretty good, too.

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  1. “Wah, wah, wah”?

    Yeah, that pretty represents the average level of intelligent discourse among Fox News lackeys.

    I mean, it’s no “So poor and so black,” but at least those were actually English words.

  2. I suppose their record isn’t any worse than the folks who warned of the powerful Taliban and “brutal Afghan winter”, the quadmire in Iraq after the 3rd ID paused 100 miles south of Baghdad, the impossibility of having an election in Iraq, the impossibility of writing a Constitution in Iraq, the al Sadr Shia revolt, and the Iraqi civil war. I doubt Reason will ever fess up to or point out how erroneous those predictions were.

  3. Does reading that “wah wah wah” line about under-armored vehicles make everybody’s blood boil?

    Or is it only those of us who “hate the military” and “don’t support the troops?”

  4. Oh and I forgot to mention those that warned of the Arab street rising in revolution all over the middle east as a result of the invasion of first Afghanistan and then Iraq.

  5. As a troop that served in OIF, I dealt with too many of these Hunt types.

    Almost none of them are of the moral or intellectual (let alone military) calibre of an Eisenhower, Bradley, or Rickover, and most of them are just overpaid welfare recipients waiting for their turn to be the next flag-level sqawking head on cable news, dishing out idiot advice to an American population that swallows it whole, because most have never served and believe anything that FAUX News tells them.

    Luckily, America will suffer such ignoble defeats under Bush that these insta-experts will be laughed off the TV, waiting their turn to be guest stars on “Mail Call” or “War Stories” …

  6. I’d say there are plenty of wrong predictions, and I doubt there is much variance among philosophies as to who was “more wrong”.

  7. Joe,

    Honestly, you get a choice between peace breaking out in Iraq tommorow and having to admit you were wrong and the Republicans stay in power for another 20 years, or all hell breaking loose and America cutting and running and you being able to lord over everyone the fact that you were right and by the way the Dems take power like they have never had since 1964, which one would you take? You don’t have to answer but I guessing a whole lot of people on your side who “support the troops” would be dancing in the streets and over the dead bodies of said troops if the later happened.

  8. Yup, we sure did clean up those Taliban. Nice and easy.

    As easy as winning in Iraq and a nice clean exit in short order. No quagmire there!

    I’ll grant you that those who predicted that staging a vote and getting a majority of delegates to vote in favor of a Constitution would be impossible – both of those productions were carried out, and it is only the insurgency-ending, democracy-bringing outcomes that have proven impossible.

    Given the mass murders of Sunni by Shia that are occurring throughout Iraq, the Shia revolt and Civil War have pretty clearly come to pass, too.

  9. JF,

    You are right, no one has a monopoly over being wrong about the future, especially with regards to war.

    GorgivemeJaneFonda,

    Bradley and Eisenhower were great Americans but they had their share of fuckups along the way. Fortuneately, we didn’t have the media there to talk about the “quagmire” of Normandy or the “tet offensive” at the Bulge, so they were still able to get the job done.

  10. John, why doesn’t your email work?

    The one that has “mail2iraq” in the suffix – it’s a fake.

    It looks like an email address you’d use to contact somebody who’s in Iraq, but it isn’t.

    What’s up with that?

  11. Yes Joe,

    Only easy wars are worth fighting. I recall most of the MSM predicting a humanitarian disaster and U.S. defeat in Afghanistan in October of 2001. Anyone remember Robert Sheer and the “million dead Afghans” prediction?

    What you are saying is not true, but granted you believe that it is and seem to be awefully happy about it. But you “support the troops”.

  12. Sorry Joe,

    I just can’t type. My fault.

  13. John,

    You make some pretty wild leaps sometimes. Two weeks ago you concluded that athiests should have no problem with a mass die-off of humanity, and now you ‘re saying that you think democrats want dead soldiers as political props? Nothing quite like demonizing opposing viewpoints, is there?

  14. DAvid,

    I was playing the devil’s advocate. I do not believe that a mass die off would be good. But, I believe in God. My point was that if you are an athiest, believe such, while not necessarily following from being an athiest, is a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

  15. I have a new fake email address!

  16. “I recall most of the MSM predicting a humanitarian disaster and U.S. defeat in Afghanistan in October of 2001.”

    And yet you can’t seem to recall that you aren’t in Iraq, and aren’t in the military, despite the fact that you repeatedly suggest otherwise, even going so far as to provide a fake email address to make people think you’ve serving in Iraq.

    What a repellent human being.

  17. Be honest, does Fox cheerlead for the war? Absolutely. That said, does the rest of the MSM cheerlead against the war and wake up every day hoping that they really are covering the next Vietnam and that they can help ensure a defeat that will be pinned on Bush? Absolutely. It goes both ways.

  18. Ah, Joe,

    I was in Iraq from March 2003 untul March 2004. I got the e-mail address while there and am just too lazy to change it, although I need to.

    I am sorry if the truth hurts that bad and I don’t think you are a repellent human being at all. I think are misguided.

  19. You’re a bit thick aren’t you John?

  20. I can send you some pictures from there if you like?

  21. I never really thought about my e-mail address to be honest. I am just lazy about such things. If it is one more thing that drives Joe over the edge, then I guess I should have changed it. For my part, I really couldn’t care less what mine or anyone else’s e-mail address is. I am just lazy and don’t want to use my work e-mail.

  22. “I got the e-mail address while there and am just too lazy to change it, although I need to.”

    Or even to stop typing into the field when you make a comment. Damn, that is lazy.

    Please, send us those picture you google. Try to make sure they’re not from Turkey.

    And I don’t think you’re misguided. I think Jason Ligon and crimethink are misguided.

    I think you’re a repellent human being.

  23. Joe,

    You are funny. I truely have driven over some kind of cliff and I am really sorry for it. It is just to easy to say over the top things on here and I have let you have it a few too many times.

    I don’t what to tell you. I know what I have done and where I have been and it’s nothing remarkable but it did include a year in Iraq. That doesn’t mean I have a monopoly on the truth, that is for sure, although it is fun to pretend that you do sometimes.

  24. “Wah, wah, wah” isn’t how I would have said it, but the issue of more APCs and more armor generally was being positioned as more pat by administration opponents than it really was.

    Until you have one Abrams per man, you can always make that argument. We weren’t losing men to small arms fire in large part, but IEDs. IEDs are easily scalable munitions such that, as we have unfortunately seen, extra armor won’t likely save you.

    The charge struck me as a cheap shot that was an easy sell to the bobble heads.

    I despise O’Reilly with every fiber of my being, but I don’t know about that particular charge.

  25. Bradley and Eisenhower were great Americans but they had their share of fuckups along the way. Fortuneately, we didn’t have the media there to talk about the “quagmire” of Normandy or the “tet offensive” at the Bulge, so they were still able to get the job done.

    No one said that they didn’t have FUBARs, but unlike our Chairborne Rangers on TV News (and this includes the Democratic-tinged ones like Clark, as well) Eisenhower and Bradley were man enough to admit mistakes. Eisenhower, of course went on to be a great president that ushered in the civil rights era, an expanding economy and the freeway system, among other things. The pundits on FOX accomplished …. eh?

    Having served in Al Anbar and seen six Seabees get blown to bits in an open formation IN A WAR ZONE because some shithead Admiral wanted a press op is enough to make me want choke the Hunt types everytime I see them …

  26. Hey, I’m all for pointing out craziness and bogus predictive analisys in the media, but it’s not the exclusive domain of Fox News. Remember how Gulf War I was going to be a WWI style trench warfare battle with military “experts” predicting 50,000 dead in the first couple of months of combat?

  27. joe:

    How’d I get to be misguided before my first post?

    Oh, you mean in general … 😉

  28. joe,
    You don’t think John is a repellent human being. You find it easy to type that John is a repellent human being.

  29. JaneFonda,

    I wish that kind of stuff would go away. Patton got a bunch of folks killed trying to get his brother in law out of a POW camp in Germany. The unfortuenate fact is that most people who tell it like it is and don’t care if they get to the top (the very people you want at the top) don’t get there and the ones who do often get there because they say the right things and step on the right people. That is unfortuneately true in just about every human endevor.

  30. Well of course O’Reilly isn’t fair and balanced and there’s plenty of spin on the “No Spin Zone” but then agains Media Matters are hardly bastions of neutral journalism themselves.

    That’s what really bugs me about both sides claiming neutrality and lobbing accusations of “bias” at each other. Of course the other side is biased, so are you, so am I and so is everybody else. We are human beings we view the world through the spectrum of our own beliefs, and no matter how hard we try to be objective, those beliefs will undoubtedly color every last one of our opinions on any subject.

    While it’s easy and accurate to lob bon mots at Fox News and Conservative talk radio, it’s worth remembering that many of the people doing so have also talked about trying to reintroduce the “fairness doctrine” as a solution.

    The real solution is to have an outlet for as many particular opinions (all biased) as possible and let the marketplace of ideas sort through it all. Shutting up O’Reilly or Limbaugh seems like a lousy solution to me.

  31. Sheesh. Pundits are always wrong more than they’re right. FOX tends to air those who support the network’s worldview in ways that are more simplistic and obvious (and maybe less nefarious?) than the other networks. But they all do it. I saw some reporting at CNN this weekend that nearly made me barf. So a similarly focused study of the other networks would yield similar results. They all cater to a target audience, and not a single one is without bias.

  32. Jason Ligdon,

    That is a good point. You also have to be able to move too. The body armor criticism is another cheap shot in a lot of ways. The intercepter body armor with the plate and all is hit as hell and weighs a ton. Pick your poison, do you want to be able to take a chest shot but not be able to move as fast? It is not so simple as just giving everyone body armor and M1A1s to drive around.

  33. Again,

    Not sure who has proposed “shutting up” O’Really?

    Calling them out when they’re flat-out wrong? Not really the same thing as “shutting them up”.

  34. The real solution is to have an outlet for as many particular opinions (all biased) as possible and let the marketplace of ideas sort through it all. Shutting up O’Reilly or Limbaugh seems like a lousy solution to me.

    Well geez, that’s awfully above-the-fray. But pointing out that O’Reilly and Limbaugh are complete idiots is the probably the least we can do (and isn’t that what’s going on here?) It would be nice if pundits could feel shame.

  35. I’m skeptical. A lot of the claims about the shortness of the war are probably correct. In context, they appear to refer to the war to displace the Saddam regime. The following peacekeeping actions are a distinct mission. There were a lot of rosy and completely wrong predictions about the ease of peacekeeping, but the predictions about the ease of displacing the regime were completely accurate. They’re entirely separate missions. It’s a mistake to think of them as a single, combined “War in Iraq.”

    Fox was undoubtedly sloppy with some of their statements, and some of them certainly turned out to be embarrassingly wrong. But Media Matters is seriously overstating their case. For one thing, all media reports from any source on any subject have a miserable track record of trying to predict the future (Media Matters lacks that excuse since their sloppiness is backward looking). For another, we have to remember that this was covered nearly 24 hours a day for months at a time. With that much footage, it can’t be surprising that they got some things wrong.

    I’m not saying this because I’m a supporter of the war or because I have a special interest in defending Fox. It’s just that when an organization holds itself out as an authoritative debunker of someone else’s errors, I think there’s a special obligation to be very careful that they’re entirely accurate.

  36. Barber,

    Fair enough, nothing wrong with pointing out when people are wrong or just buffoons entertaining people, (which is most of what Limbaugh does), but why can’t we hold both sides to the same standard? When does Robert Sheer get called out for his abominable predictions and reporting on Afghanistan? How many times does Paul Erlich get mentioned as an “expert” even though everything he has ever written or predicted has turned out to be completly wrong. I am all kicking around Fox when they are wrong, I just wish that people would hold the rest of the media to the same standard.

  37. We are a church made up of individuals who Welcome Everyone. Doesn?t matter what you wear, look like, the color of your hear, your orientation or identification. What matters to us is that want to share in our community!

  38. tom,

    I think you meant to post on Sex Cult topic.

  39. “Well of course O’Reilly isn’t fair and balanced and there’s plenty of spin on the “No Spin Zone” but then agains Media Matters are hardly bastions of neutral journalism themselves.”

    They don’t claim to be. Their stated mission is to track examples of right-wing bias in the media. If there weren’t already a right-wing cottage industry exposing left-wing bias in the media (often accurately, I think), it might be a problem.

    O’Reilly, on the other hand, claims to be “independent”.

    The thing I like about Media Matters is that they more or less back up all their points. Sometimes their claims are bogus, but since they provide the relevant links it’s usually easy to spot.

    As for John’s assertions about predictions of failure in the “MSM”, I recall various parties offering predictions on what might go wrong, based on historical awareness or available knowledge about the situation on the ground. I don’t recall any confident predictions of failure. It also seems to me a useful thing to be prepared for what might go wrong, rather than concentrating on what might go right, as the pro-war side has done.

  40. Why can’t we hold both sides to the same standard?

    Why can’t we indeed? Why are you asking me this?

  41. Jason Ligon writes: “IEDs are easily scalable munitions such that, as we have unfortunately seen, extra armor won’t likely save you.”

    That’s true about a vehicle close to the IED. But what about the vehicles farther out in the blast radius? The vehicle ahead and the one behind? Or the case where the IED’s remote bomber is a little slow with the trigger and the Hummer gets a bit along before the boom.

  42. Mark,

    If the media didn’t sight moonbats like Scheer, Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky and thier predictions of 100s of thousands Afghan deaths if the U.S. bombing didn’t stop in December 2001, perhaps you might have a point. The MSM hardly takes an unbiased look at what reasonably might go wrong. Instead it finds the most sensational thing anyone is saying and reports it as “fact” and the moonbat who is saying it as an unbiased “expert”.

    Barber,

    It was a rethorical question. My point is that the people over at media matters are about as likely to hold the anti-war folks accountable for thier erroneous predictions as they are to vote Republican.

  43. My point is that the people over at media matters are about as likely to hold the anti-war folks accountable for thier erroneous predictions as they are to vote Republican.

    Yeah, bad Media Matters. Who needs them anyway? If they didn’t exist then nonpartisan people like you would just pick up the slack, right?

  44. Jon H:

    I won’t argue that more armor is completely ineffectual. All I’m suggesting is that the balance point is non obvious and that troop safety negligence is a serious charge that is very easy to sell.

  45. Pity the Fox News analysts. They had it easy under Clinton, lambasting the President, taking a stance as fearless rebels, contesting the status quo, and giving voice to those who are sick and tired of the folks in charge.

    Now they spend their time kissing Bush’s ass….

  46. Barbar,

    I media matters didn’t claim to be a “nonpartisian” watchdog group, you might have a point.

  47. From the “About Us” section of their website:

    Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

    So are you lying or just misinformed?

  48. Oh I am lying Barbar. Lying in hopes ensnaring you and Joe in the vast right wing conspiracy. Media Matters is perhaps the first watch dog group to admit its purpose. They certainly don’t mention that when they are cited anywhere else in the media. But, they do claim to be liberals.

    I am sure a non-partisian source such as yourself will do more than enough to point out the lies and distortions of the anti-war types.

  49. John,

    “If the media didn’t sight moonbats like Scheer, Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky and thier predictions of 100s of thousands Afghan deaths if the U.S. bombing didn’t stop in December 2001, perhaps you might have a point. The MSM hardly takes an unbiased look at what reasonably might go wrong. Instead it finds the most sensational thing anyone is saying and reports it as “fact” and the moonbat who is saying it as an unbiased “expert”.”

    Please cite examples. I have not seen any of what you mention in what you might call the mainstream media, but then again I am not that tuned-in. Certainly no articles by Chomsky in the New Yorker, or editorials by him in the NYT. Don’t know who Scheer is and the only thing I know about Fisk is that he has so often been proven wrong that his name has become a verb.

  50. Let’s summarize:

    1) Media Matters smacks O’Reilly and other pro-war pundits around.
    2) You say Media Matters won’t point out anti-war lies and distortions.
    3) I say that that’s irrelevant, someone needs to point out pro-war lies and distortions, and Media Matters does that.
    4) You say that might be a good point, except that Media Matters pretends to be non-partisan.
    5) I point out that Media Matters does not actually pretend to be non-partisan.
    6) Somehow this reflects badly on me.

  51. Comment by: ForgiveMeJaneFonda Luckily, America will suffer such ignoble defeats under Bush

    Luckily? Oh. My. God.

  52. As pundits go, PBS had a guy who provided some sober analysis. Some of his predictions are downright eerie. You can read them here.

  53. Fox News: More laughs per hour than Comedy Central.

  54. Certainly no articles by Chomsky in the New Yorker

    Hmph, turn on NPR some time. Oh, my bad, NPR isn’t ‘mainstream’. Shyeah.

  55. Certainly no articles by Chomsky in the New Yorker, or editorials by him in the NYT.

    Except for this.

  56. Luckily? Oh. My. God.

    Before you go calling Bill O’Reilly claiming you’ve found the new Ward Churchill, let me re-phrase my clumsy parse. (Insert “I Support The Troops, Mainly ‘Cause I Was One of ‘Em” disclosure language here)

    “Luckily, Bush is such a Miserable Failure as CinC, it’ll eventually create a backlash against testosterone laden brain-dead pundits such as Hunt. Subsequently, these Chairborne Rangers will find the availability of ‘Expert Opinion’ gigs drying up on Cable News.”

    Not as pithy, but more clear I hope.

    More laughs per hour than Comedy Central.

    Yes, and my man Colbert will never go hungry again, as long as Bill O’Reilly is gainfully employed.

    The look … the feel … the smell … of FALAFEL!

  57. Paul,

    But that’s not written before either war… or did I miss the 2004 invasion? :p

  58. Yes, and my man Colbert will never go hungry again, as long as Bill O’Reilly is gainfully employed.

    Not only will Colbert never go unemployed, neither will his namesake eagle Stephen Jr. As long as Comedy Central is paying him, Colbert will be able to continue regurgitating food into FedEx envelopes so that Stephen Jr. can eat.

  59. Paul,

    But that’s not written before either war… or did I miss the 2004 invasion? :p

    Hmm, I was just being facetious. I was merely responding to the simple statement that there haven’t been any editorials in the NYT by said ‘most important intellectual of our time’ – New York Review of Books– Noam Chomsky. But I do understand that the O.P. (that’s original poster, son) was probably speaking about editorials referring to a specific event- that being the Afghan war. I’m not trying to rock Hit and Run today. Just posts, just posts.

  60. I guess the thing that bothers me about Media Matters’ “studies” is that they insist on treating O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and other commentators as if they were straight newsmen.

    They’re not; they are opinionated, biased pundits. It’d be fair to compare their accuracy to that of Randi Rhodes, Janine (sp?) Garafolo and the like, instead of implying that they are the right-wing equivalent of, say, Dan Rather or Matt Lauer.

    Rather, Lauer and their colleagues purport to report straight news, but wind up listing rather seriously to port most of the time. O’Reilly, Limbaugh and so on purport to be offering opinion and analysis — and holy cow, that’s what they deliver.

    Setting them up as examples of “right-leaning media” is an exercise in strawman-building, with a chaser of red herring, where these “studies” are cited in response to accounts of bias in the MSM.

  61. Yeah, the leftards were certainly spot on in their predictions as well.

    Anyone remember Gulf War 2?

  62. …a list of wrong-headed predictions by Fox News military analysts.

    And on the other hand, the predictions of Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com have come to fruition at a remarkable rate. Antiwar.com is both the most frequented libertarian and anti-war site extant.

    http://antiwar.com/justin/

  63. General Paul Van Riper today criticized Rumsfeld (making him the 8th general to have done so). If only Rumsfeld had listened to him during the Millenium Challenge 2002.

    Robert Oakley, a retired US ambassador who played Saddam Hussein, said that Van Riper (Red Force coordinator) was consistently “out-thinking” the Blue Force. Speaking of the exercise, Van Riper said “It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue ‘win.'”

    Eventually Van Riper quit the game in protest, insisting that he did not want to be associated with “misleading results”. “You don’t come to a conclusion beforehand and then work your way to that conclusion. You see how the thing plays out.”

  64. I don’t know if Phil O’Reilly’s predictions are typically accurate–I just know he’s a blubbering idiot.

    I was flippin’ through the channels the other day and stopped on a commercial to get somethin’ outta the fridge. …I didn’t realize it was on his show, but he comes back to, and, while I was comin’ back to sit down, he starts goin’ on about how the price of gasoline has nothing to do with supply and demand. …he seemed to be suggesting that it was all some kind of corporate conspiracy or somethin’. I forget how it went, exactly, but like Biff O’Rly said something like, “It has nothing to do with supply and demand!” or “Supply and demand has nothing to do with it!” I think it had a bullet point.

    What an idiot.

    The Wall Street Journal used to publish analysts’ picks against picks chosen via a dart board and then track the results over time. Historically, that dart board has a pretty good average.

    …That would be an interesting experiment with journalist predictions. Can reasonable, intelligent people predict the outcome of random events? …more accurately than the random predictions of a ridiculous idiot?

  65. Nice link Happy Jack

  66. I’d rather watch reruns of The Morton Downey Jr. Show. …I’d rather watch reruns of Wally George. I don’t know why a person would want to watch O’RLY’s show, unless maybe that person was really, really stoned and couldn’t find the remote.

  67. MSM – I’d have to knock Cordesman down a peg. I see that he didn’t predict human trafficking.

    BTW, isn’t human trafficking just a fancy name for slavery?

  68. Yeah, the leftards were certainly spot on in their predictions as well.
    Anyone remember Gulf War 2?

    I didn’t, vo, so I clicked the link to see what you were talking about. Oddly, it seems that he had predicted your criticism fairly well: “Occasionally a pro-war loony will email me to sneer that things didn’t turn out like this. … This game starts with a simple premise: that Bush/Blair were telling the truth. Saddam had WMD and was willing to use them.”

    So, in other words, he turned out to be completely wrong – and the thing that he was wrongest about was the idea that the Bush and Blair administrations were on the level with regard to their WMD claims. And we all know how that turned out.

    Did you hope that the lesson “leftards” should take from this was, “not to trust this administration in any capacity?”

  69. You guys seem to take some perverse delight in ganging up on John.

    Frankly, he makes a hell of a lot more sense them most of you. This web site is a perfect example of why the libertarian party is never going to be in power. Bunch of freaking pot heads…

  70. Paul –

    Re: Chomsky in the NYT. Thanks for pointing it out. Like I said, I haven’t personally seen any of his editorials there, but then again I don’t read every single issue, which is why I was asking to begin with.

    I do have to point out, though, that the NYT regularly prints op-ed pieces from across the political spectrum, including ones by administration officials. I’m surprised they would include someone as controversial as Chomsky.

    Overall, I’m sticking with my original position, which is that the pessimistic predictions about the war were made based on reasonable interpretations of available information. Optimistic predictions seemed to be based either on irrelevancies (we’re building new schools!), misplaced faith in Iraqis who told us what we wanted to hear (Bush telling everyone to believe Allawi because Allawi was the president of Iraq) and misrepresentation of opposing views (when critics pointed out that Iraqis were unready for democracy due to sectarian and ethnic tensions, Bush tried to spin it as a racist position ? “There’s a lot of people in the world who don’t believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern.”)

    In counterpoint, I recall a military expert warning that our troops in Afghanistan did not have the battlefield experience to prevail. He turned out to be wrong, but his prediction was reasonable and based on facts.

  71. John is half-right. There were a lot of wild predictions about Afghanistan during the lead-up to that war, and they’re very comparable to the predictions the pro-war people have made about Iraq. So much so that I frequently think, while reading some (not all) of the pro-war bloggers, that they’re cherry-picking the evidence and avoiding the obvious in the exact same way the people they love to mock did in late 2001. (How many sites that looked like open-minded truth-seekers back then look like echo chambers for the perpetually deluded these days?)

    But you’re wrong to say the mainstream media embraced the leftists’ critique of the Afghan war. Robert Scheer is one single columnist well to the left of the political mainstream — and in the years since he wrote that stuff he’s been fired. You can probably find examples of people with his views turning up on cable debate shows or newspaper op-ed pages in late 2001, but occasionally giving someone a platform doesn’t constitute endorsement. (You’ll recall the cable news shows also gave a platform to to the idea that we should nuke the middle east. Surely you don’t think that was “the MSM’s” view.) Elite opinion on the Iraq war has been divided, but elite opinion about the Afhgan war, like popular opinion about the Afghan war, was overwhelmingly in its favor. If anything, the press might have given short shrift to the genuine problems the U.S. has encountered there.

    And what do you mean by this: “I doubt Reason will ever fess up to or point out how erroneous those predictions were”? Maybe I’m forgetting something, but the only one of those predictions I ever recall a Reason writer making was an Iraqi civil war, and it’s a bit early to declare that the country has avoided that.

  72. When applying hindsight to see what has been proven false, it is important to have some idea what the current state of affairs is. Here is how I see it:

    WMDs or significant programs: Proven false.

    We needed more troops: Unknown. I’ve noted before that I see this as a trade of risks

    The end of the UN: proven false, but you could argue relevance (you could have always argued relevance I guess).

    Democracy flowers: eh, unknown. Certainly not immediately as North suggested, but we haven’t convincingly lost that fight yet.

    That bit about jubiliation improving America’s middle eastern standing: laughably (as in, I laugh to hide my pain) false

    As I go through these, I don’t think that many of the broad scope strategic assumptions have been proven false. A mistake I think many analysts make is this idea that we thought we’d be better received and democracy would be easier to establish (which is a true premise), therefore our military operations were inadequate and our strategy was all wrong (which doesn’t follow). These are separate issues, and I think that time will tell on a lot of the big stuff. We still have a shot at this, and I’m not convinced that 10X the men would have made this part any easier.

  73. Has America’s standing in the Middle East (meaning, the Arab world) really even plummetted? People like to state that as a given, but I don’t know if it’s true at all. You may recall, in the month after 9/11, there were a number of fiery pro-Bin Laden, anti-America demonstrations in some Arab countries. After the invasion of Afghanistan, those trickled away, and now one would be hard-pressed to find an example of the “Arab Street” having anything negative to say about the U.S. I’d say they’re neutral about America at the moment. Sure, there are insurgents in Iraq, but it doesn’t take a lot of people to set off an IED.

    A bunch of cartoons in Denmark seemed to have inflamed the Arab world more than the U.S. restructuring two Muslim countries.

  74. Yaron,

    Perhaps it would be worth comparing the state of anti-regime activity and pro-American sentiment in Iran in 1998-2000 to their state today.

    Once upon a time, there were many, many thousands of people marching in the streets in Iran, demanding the government change. When government security forces killed a couple, the resulting popular outrage shook the government so much that it actually arrested, tried, convicted, and jailed some of its own security personnel.

    Needless to say, those days aren’t today.

  75. Jason,
    Democracy is on the march, and has been for decades. Eventually, a worthy democracy will emerge in Iraq, and it lwould have emerged eventually with no US intervention (As joe mentions above, Iran was probably on this path, but our meddlings have probably slowed or reversed its progress).

    In the world of counterfactuals, it is plausible that an intense round of weapons inspections certifying Iraq wmd free would have embolden internal dissent, hastening that change entirely from within. Certainly, Sadaam Hussein thought the illusion of WMDs provided some important protections for his regime.

  76. Joe – this logic seems awkward. Anti-U.S. sentiment manifests itself mostly in… Iranians hating their own government less?

    In any case, I don’t know if it’s true. A web search turned up a large number of links about current anti-government protests, including this seemingly comprehensive one, which says that, yes, thousands are protesting even now.

  77. In the world of counterfactuals, it is plausible that an intense round of weapons inspections certifying Iraq wmd free would have embolden internal dissent,…

    It might also given us a chance to find out who the good guys and not so bad guys were. I, for one, have no qualms about using UN missions for espionage and I doubt that the French do either. Of course the Bush wouldn’t have gotten his flight suit moment.

  78. Evan

    “Not sure who has proposed “shutting up” O’Really?”

    From:

    http://www.altpressonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=278

    “Washington, DC – Leading media experts Tom Athans of Democracy Radio, [b]David Brock of Media Matters for America[/b] and Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the Democracy Access Project have unveiled http://www.fairnessdoctrine.com to promote U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter’s (D-NY28) legislation to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.”

    The Media Matters folks are leading proponents of reinstating the “Fairness Doctrine”, a measure I assumed ranked as repellent to libertarian ideals.

    My point was simply that the folks at Media Matters and others like them do not simply point out the inaccuracies in right wing talk shows, but do in fact support measures to try and silence or at least regulate what it is they can say on those shows.

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