Today, March 4, Diane Rehm held discussion on her NPR program on the cost of the occupation of Iraq. She allowed Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution all the room he needed to spout Bush neo-con rhetoric, and did not challenge it a bit. What gives?
The program began with a call-in from Linda Bilmes, a Harvard prof at the Kennedy School of Government, who along with Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia prof and Nobel economist) authored the new book The Three Trillion Dollar War. The authors present a comprehensive accounting of the staggering cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
For whatever reason, Prof. Bilmes did not remain on the call-in to the program after she spoke for several minutes.
Here is my own transcript of part of Michael O'Hanlon's commentary:
It's hard to predict what will happen to the Middle East if we withdraw and the likelihood of an intensified Iraqi civil war results, with the possibility at least of regional war and who knows what implications for the global oil markets. I don't want to be a doomsayer and say the Middle East will blow up entirely if we are defeated in Iraq. But you have to expect some kind of instability. Linda and Joe Stiglitz are very good at talking about the cost of oil. Obviously this war has not helped contain the cost of oil, but I believe things could get worse were much of the Persian Gulf region to be destabilized. So there'd be monetary and budgetary costs of defeat as well as the monetary and budgetary costs of continuing the operation.
Whoa, there! "Costs of defeat", is it? What defeat? Defeat of whom? Defeat by whom? Michael O'Hanlon repeated this phrase "cost of defeat" several more times during the program, without any notation or question or challenge from Diane Rehm as to what is meant by this.
This use of the word "defeat" is subtle, yet significant wordcraft, on Mr. O'Hanlon's part. He's implying that if you want to end this misuse and abuse of our troops, then you're a champion of defeat. Of course, it's a very short step from this "defeat" rhetoric to the neologism "defeatocrat", which is bandied about by the Rush Limbaugh Society in an attempt to slander those who oppose the ongoing misuse and abuse of our troops in the occupation of Iraq, no? Yet Diane Rehm let this fly right by.
And, of course, redeployment of our troops from Iraq would constitute no military defeat whatsoever! Our troops were resoundingly successful in a mere two weeks in defeating the Iraqi Army and in toppling Saddam Hussein. Mr. O'Hanlon dishonors our troops and the job they've done by referring to redeployment of them from Iraq as "defeat", does he not?
Again, Diane Rehm let this fly right by without note or challenge.
And, towards the end of the program, Mr. O'Hanlon dredged up the Pottery Barn Theory, of all things:
And also let me finish with with the famous line that Colin Powell mentioned, "If you break it, you own it". You can't just go in to a place like this which had some limited if terrible and strongarmed type of stability under Saddam, depose him, and then say to heck with it, we're out of here. I think that's not a serious proposition.
Perhaps he considers a more serious proposition to be the P.T. Barnum Sucker Barn Every Minute Theory: After I pay for the pot I broke, a huge Wild West brawl breaks out between the Pottery Barn's customers, employees, and owners. Pots are smashed all over the place. Unitary George Bush thinks that American troops should pay the price for all the damage, and neo-con jingoists heartily agree.
And Diane Rehm lets it all fly right by, no question, no challenge. Neo-cons must love it when this shtick goes unchallenged on NPR, but I can't say the same for those who want our troops brought out of this Iraq hellhole.
This is why for the first time in years, I haven't contributed at my NPR affiliate's (KWMU in St. Louis) pledge drive.