Jewish World Review May 1, 2003 / 29 Nissan 5763

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

A few of my favorite things | Some of my favorite things these days are the clips I've saved of various politicians and pundits predicting that the war in Iraq would be an unmitigated disaster for America, the world, the universe.

Just to open the folder and watch the black prophecies spill out is a comfort. The Italians say there is nothing sadder in misery than recalling happy times. Just so, there's nothing cheerier than recalling dire forebodings when they have proven unfounded.

I would especially recommend Al Gore's last pre-war speech, the one in which he predicted the war would have "disastrous consequences for the United States and the world," to quote the Associated Press' summary.

Remember all the things that were going to go wrong?

  • We were going to get bogged down in an endless, yes, Quagmire. (How long did this late unpleasantness last -- 26 days?)

  • Terrorist attacks would mount, undermining Americans' security at home. (Instead, the outcome has demoralized terrorists everywhere.)

  • The home front would come apart as massive protests divided the American people a la the 1960s.

  • Iraq's oilfields would go up in flames -- just as Kuwait's did during the first Gulf War.

  • Baghdad was going to be another Stalingrad. Tikrit was going to be Saddam's last and greatest stand. The Kurds and Turks would go to war against each other.

  • All of Iraq's cities would have to be conquered street by street, house by house.

  • Israel would be inundated with Scuds, and war would engulf the Middle East.

  • The fabled Arab Street would revolt, overthrowing regimes left and right and setting the entire region ablaze. (Which proved another fable.)

  • North Korea's always dangerous dictatorship would take advantage of our preoccupation with Iraq to proceed with its nuclear armament, maybe even start a war. (Instead, Pyongyang began making conciliatory sounds as soon as the Allied victory in Iraq became unmistakable.)

By now a succession of wars in the Middle East should have taught readers interested in maintaining some psychic balance this much:

Put aside your daily copies of The New York Times at the beginning of any conflict. Let 'em stack up unopened, like Pandora's Box, lest all the Furies inside be unleashed.

Then, once it's safe to read again, go through America's paper of dubious record, savoring each and every gloomy prediction that never materialized, lingering over every sad assessment that was never borne out. It's immensely cheering. From first to last:

"Hussein Rallies Iraqi Defenders To Hold Baghdad/Leader Says Allies Will Be Dragged Into a 'Quagmire' by Guerrilla Warfare" -- Page 1, March 25, 2003.

"Bush Peril: Shifting Sand and Fickle Opinion" -- Page 1, March 30, 2003. This headline is over a story by The Times' redoubtable R.W. (Johnny) Apple. There hasn't been a cheerier prophet since Cassandra. Here's a sample of his applesauce: "Street-by-street fighting in the rubble of Baghdad and other cities -- an eventuality that American strategists have long sought to avoid -- now looks more likely. Mr. Hussein's aides have promised savage resistance."

"Rumsfeld's Design for War Criticized on the Battlefield" -- Page 1, April 1, 2003. "The skeptics, who include some of the leading former Army commanders from the last war with Iraq, say the force the United States has deployed is not large enough to begin a decisive battle in Baghdad while simultaneously guarding ever-lengthening supply lines." -- Page 1, April 1, 2003.

"Iraq Is Planning Protracted War/Threat of Guerrilla Fighting in Cities and in Summer Heat" -- Page 1, April 2, 2003.

"Defiant Iraqis Say U.S. Advance Has Been Broken" -- Page 1, April 6, 2003.

The Times' coverage didn't quite measure up to the ceaseless flow of victory proclamations from the Iraqi information minister, but there were days when it came close.

Reviewing these old clips sheds light on the current stream of warnings that the American occupation, like the war, will prove disastrous: "True Cost of Hegemony: Huge Debt" -- cover story, the Times' Week in Review April 20. "All in all, Mr. Bush faces a daunting task." -- R.W. Apple in the same edition.

But here and there, even at The Times, the light is breaking through: "Yet in the 26 days of American warfare it took to bring (Saddam Hussein's) era down, the hallmark of Mr. Hussein's rule was revealed not as one of grandeur, but of gangsterism and thuggery." -- John F. Burns, Page 1, April 20, 2003.

There's hope for the Times. As for CNN, I have my doubts.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives


© 2002, TMS