WASHINGTON--Not since William Randolph Hearst famously cabled his correspondent in Cuba, ``You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war,'' has a newspaper so blatantly devoted its front pages to editorializing about a coming American war as has Howell Raines' New York Times. Hearst was for the Spanish-American War. Raines (for those who have been incommunicado for the last year) opposes war with Iraq.
The Raines campaign is ongoing. A story that should be on Page A22, the absence of one Iraqi opposition leader (out of a dozen-odd) at a meeting in Washington, is Page A1, above the fold. Message: Disarray in the war camp. A previous above-the-fold front-page story revealed--stop the presses!--that the war might be financially costly.
Then there are the constant references to growing opposition to war with Iraq--in fact, the polls are unchanged since January--culminating on Aug. 16 with the lead front-page headline: ``Top Republicans Break with Bush on Iraq Strategy.''
The amusing part was including among these Republican foreign policy luminaries Dick Armey, a man not often cited by the Times for his sagacity, a man who just a few weeks ago made a spectacle of himself by publicly advocating the removal of the Palestinians from the West Bank. Yesterday, he was a buffoon. Today, he is a statesman.
That was the comic relief. The egregious part of the story was the touting of Henry Kissinger as one of the top Republican leaders breaking with Bush over Iraq. This revelation was based on a Washington Post op-ed article that Kissinger had published four days earlier.
How can one possibly include Kissinger in this opposition group? He writes in the very article the Times cites: ``The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system and the demonstrated hostility of Hussein combine to produce an imperative for pre-emptive action.''
The remarkable thing about Kissinger's article is not that he breaks with Bush but that in supporting the Bush policy of pre-emptive war, he breaks with one of the central tenets of his own ``realist'' school of foreign policy.
Realism is the billiard ball school of foreign policy. It cares what states do to each other on the outside, not how they govern themselves on the inside. Realism is not into regime change. Indeed, as Kissinger himself explains, pre-emptive attack goes against the principle enshrined at the Treaty of Westphalia: the inviolability of states. Nonetheless, in the case of Iraq, Kissinger endorses the Bush doctrine because the advent of weapons of mass destruction no longer permit us to wait for the other guy to strike first.
None of this deters the Times from making Kissinger one of its two major Republican poster boys breaking with the president (the other being former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft). Indeed, the very next day's paper, again the lead front-page story, reiterated the fiction, citing Kissinger (with Scowcroft) as part of ``a group of leading Republicans who were warning (Bush) against going to war with Iraq.''
Against going to war? Kissinger makes the case not just for going to war but for going to war soon. ``Waiting will only magnify possibilities for blackmail,'' he warns. Moreover, he adds, the war on terrorism itself is at risk if it stops with Afghanistan and spares Saddam Hussein. If we flinch, we'll see ``radicals encouraged by the demonstration of American hesitation and moderates demoralized by the continuation of an unimpaired Iraq as an aggressive regional power.''
The Times trumpets the critics' warning about the risks of ``creating greater instability in the Middle East and harming long-term American interests.'' But Kissinger makes precisely the opposite argument: ``The overthrow of the Iraqi regime would have potentially (BEG ITAL)beneficent
political consequences''--serving to chasten ``the so-called Arab street,'' encourage moderates in Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iran, "demonstrate to the Palestinian Authority that America is serious about overcoming corrupt tyrannies and bring about a better balance in oil policy within OPEC." Quite a list.
The entire Times attempt to rope Kissinger into the opposition rests on his talking about the difficulties and the importance of the postwar settlement: "Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed." But everyone knows that we will have to stay and help rebuild Iraq as a peaceful, nondictatorial state. Who says otherwise? Where is the break with Bush?
It is one thing to give your front page to a crusade against war with Iraq. That's partisan journalism, and that's what Raines' Times does for a living. It's another thing to include Henry Kissinger in your crusade. That's just stupid. After all, it's checkable.