When the Berlin Wall fell and Eastern Europe escaped from the shackles of communism, I wrote that we must not forget the enablers, apologists and other "fellow travelers" who helped sustain communism's grip on a sizable portion of humanity for much of the 20th century. I suggested that a "cultural war crimes tribunal" be convened, at which people from academia, the media, government and the clergy who were wrong in their assessment of communism would be forced to confront their mistakes. While not wishing to deprive anyone of his or her right to be wrong, it wouldn't hurt for these people to be held accountable.
That advice was not taken - but today we are presented with another opportunity in the form of scores of false media prophets who predicted disaster should the U.S. military confront and seek to oust the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. The purpose of a cultural war crimes tribunal would be to remind the public of journalism's many mistakes, as well as the errors of certain politicians and retired generals, and allow it to properly judge their words the next time they feel the urge to prophesy.
National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com) and the Media Research Center (www.mediaresearch.org) have accumulated some of the predictions. In light of developments, they make for hilarious reading - better than a Chinese fortune cookie or the horoscopes.
In no particular order of hilarity or error factor, there was R.W. Apple of the New York Times - who mostly writes about food these days - opining on March 30, just days after the war had begun: "With every passing day, it is more evident that the allies made two gross military misjudgments in concluding that coalition forces could safely bypass Basra and Nasiriya and that Shiite Muslims in Southern Iraq would rise up against Saddam Hussein."
On the same day, Peter Arnett (former contributor to NBC but ousted after his anti-American homily on Iraqi state television) flatly stated, "The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance."