Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The bombing begins when?

The cute thing about diplomacy, like law, is that you can make words say exactly what you want them to say without revealing your true intentions -- unless anyone asks. When you're talking about the American press, that's a gimme: No one addresses tough questions to any high official these days, which is why Secretary of Obfuscation Condoleezza Rice got a free pass Friday morning when asked if the U.S. would start a war on Iran, which Don Rumsfeld and George W. Bush have already broadly hinted is on the way.

Said Dr. Rice, in a number of wire-service stories distributed around the world: "It is quite simply not on the agenda at this time." She added: "There are plenty of diplomatic means at our disposal to get the Iranians to finally live up to their international obligations."

"Not on the agenda at this time." Does that it mean it might be some other time? No one asked. Does this conjure up images thoroughly reported by Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack that all the while Bush, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney et. al. were announcing that there were no plans to invade Iraq that plans were being developed to invade Iran? No one asked.

There is a lack of healthy skepticism by many reporters covering this mess. They tend to take the words of officials at face value. Well, here in the Heartland we are a bit more literal. When someone says something is not on the agenda "at this time," that certainly should not discount the possibility that it could be on the agenda at another time.

The wire-service dispatches did not add this comment, which appeared in The Scotsman under the byline of Jon Smith:
She added Iran was ?not immune? to changes in the region and said the spectacle of Iraqis and Afghans voting in Iran in their home country elections must have had an effect on the Iranian people.

Mr Straw said that following those elections there was ?a wind of change? blowing through the region.

Ms Rice added: ?We feel particularly in regard to the nuclear issue that, while no-one ever asks an American President to take any option off his table there are plenty of diplomatic means to get the Iranians to fulfill their international obligations.?

She went on: ?The European three have given the Iranians an opportunity to live up to their international obligations. They ought to take it.?
Obviously, Rice's words were meant as much for the Iranian mullahs as for the western press: See what we did to Iraq? Screw with us, and you're next.

The administration remains emboldened by what it sees as the massive success of the Iraq elections, as well as the press' willingness to go along with that interpretation. Frankly, those of us who prefer looking back from a vantage point longer than five whole days can't understand how anyone can jump to such a conclusion. But this will remain the key talking and let's-have- another-war operating point for the Bushies . . . as long as the press continues to wear the rose-colored glasses with the presidential seal on them.


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