Letter Sent To The Washington Post On March 12, 2003
After an unfair and tawdry diatribe by Richard Cohen against Dennis Kucinich's stand (and arguments) against the war, I fired off this missive to both the editor and omsbudsman at the Washington Post. For good measure, I copied it to a number of prominent bloggers, intellectuals and other media outlets. There's nothing new, but I'm going to make a point of repeating information once in awhile, so we don't get lost in the haze of time and amnesia. 500,000 people on the streets were up in arms about our justification for war in Iraq, along with a number of other individuals who did not fall for the slants, fabrications and fear-mongering.
If the media had reported honestly on the evidence and information underlying our war justification when it was timely, imagine the increased levels of outrage and backlash.
A large majority of the American people thought the evidence was good. If they thought it was bad, or from sloppy work, would they have felt the same about rushing to war and breaking with some of our longtime allies? Now, after the war, the Administration's defense against purposeful deception in the war argument is that the work was sloppy, and agencies incommunicado. Sounds to me like the same excuses I've heard for why 9/11 happened, and proceeded worse than seemingly possible, when we started asking about that...
March 12, 2003
RE: Richard Cohen's denunciation of Kucinich's war arguments and the lack of invitation for Kucinich to respond...
"Civilization is threatened not only by terrorists but also by the means we use to fight them." Richard Cohen, March 6, 2003
Knowledge is threatened not only by ideologists but also by the haste in which we believe them.
We are told the case for war is top secret, and that we are to accept that the information justifying war really exists. To have faith amidst uncertainty. The only problem is a powerful case has already been made for explaining our course of action, freeing our minds of the demands of faith and towards the exercise of reason.
This case is what's known as The Project For A New Century (sic), which very clearly supports military action in the Middle East, has aggressively done so for a number of years, and is grounded upon reasons very clearly different from those being forwarded by the current administration, the key planners of which for all intents and purposes are the same people.
Call me naive...I'll call you a fool.
Our dilemma is quite profound. No longer is the question "who do you believe", but an altogether more bewildering, since we already know the who we're dealing with, "what version of your truth do we believe"? The one that makes political sense, or the one that very clearly warns of its political dangers?
America is a free country, with discourse and argumentation being its lifeblood. Let's not throw this away defending an ideology and not an argument for war. An argument must be made with information, and the more accurate and less (widely known to be) fabricated the better. The current mix of secrecy, innuendo, fear-mongering, fabrication, forgery, plagiarism, reason recycling, and little substance interpreted with great hyperbole is less than convincing to any free thinking and non-jingoist individual.
Let's lay it on the line. The projection of American power in the world is, by definition, the projection of the "people" of America. We have a stake, a voice, a responsibility, and the vulnerability that accompanies them. The editorial page is one of the places for this gauntlet to be thrown down. Don't hijack the debate, bring disrepute to your name, and sell out the "people" in favor of "focus groups". Air the arguments, referee the dueling interpretations, and lay bare the ground upon which we stand as a freely willing moral people defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Am I being unreasonable? Naive? To believe that communication, information, debate, and shared understanding are essential in decision making and accountable collective moral action? No way. Accountability, and a clear sense of direction, are paramount. We don't have that today, and we need to declare it. In this regard, the UN is not serving as an "irrelevant debating society", but a very relevant one, being the testing ground internationally for asserting values, making a case for action in their regard, and defending the case against rival cases.
The Washington Post editorial page should do the same, or face the fate of becoming "irrelevant".
More on the substance of Cohen's diatribe coming up, but a prominent part of it is Richard Perle calling Dennis Kucinich a liar.