Sunday, February 04, 2007

How the press can prevent another Iraq

You MUST check out this Dan Froomkin article. Here are some tidbits....

Lessons we thought had been learned from Vietnam were forgotten in the rush to invade Iraq. And now, as we cover President Bush’s ratcheting up of the rhetoric against Iran, it’s looking like the lessons we should have learned from Iraq may not have been learned at all. So at the risk of stating the obvious, here are some thoughts about what those lessons were.

You Can’t Be Too Skeptical of Authority
• Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.

Provocation Alone Does Not Justify War
• War is so serious that even proving the existence of a casus belli isn’t enough. Make officials prove to the public that going to war will make things better.

Be Particularly Skeptical of Secrecy
• Don’t assume that these officials, with their access to secret intelligence, know more than you do.

Watch for Rhetorical Traps
• Keep an eye on how advocates of war frame the arguments. Don’t buy into those frames unless you think they’re fair.

Don’t Just Give Voice to the Administration Officials
• Give voice to the skeptics; don’t marginalize and mock them.

Understand the Enemy
• Demand to know why the administration won’t open a dialogue with the enemy. Refusing to talk to someone you are threatening to attack should be considered inherently suspect behavior.

Encourage Public Debate
• The nation is not well served when issues of war and peace are not fully debated in public. It’s reasonable for the press to demand that Congress engage in a full, substantial debate.

Write about Motives
• Don’t assume that the administration is being forthright about its motives.

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