Jacoby vs. Rich on Iraq: Civil War In The Pundit Class

While they don't address each other explicitly, you might say that Jeff Jacoby's and Frank Rich's dueling columns on Iraq this morning reflect a civil war among American pundits. On the one hand, Rich of the New York Times, who in Has He Started Talking to the Walls?:

  • Claims Pres. Bush is "completely untethered from reality."
  • Accuses him of "flouting democracy at home."
  • Suggests that "a timely slug" administered to the commander-in-Chief by Jim Webb might have been a good thing; and
  • Casts as an "illusion" the notion "that America can control events on the ground."

And in this corner, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. In Fighting To Win in Iraq, Jacoby catalogues Jim Baker's history of foreign policy flops, including:

  • His "stubborn refusal to support independence for the long-subjugated republics of the Soviet Union,"
  • "The appeasement of Syrian dictator Hafez Assad during the run up to the 1991 Gulf War;" and
  • Counseling Bush 41 to shrug off the Tianamen Square massacre.
  • "Betraying the Iraqi Shi'ites and Kurds who heeded Bush's call to 'take matters into their own hands' and overthrow Saddam Hussein -- only to be slaughtered by Saddam's helicopter gunships and napalm while the Bush administration stood by. Baker blithely announced that the administration was 'not in the process now of assisting . . . these groups that are in uprising against the current government.'"

Jacoby urges President Bush to reject Baker's call for slo-mo surrender:

"Far from drawing down the number of troops in Iraq, Bush should increase them. . . . Sending in significant reinforcements would not only make it possible to kill more of the terrorists, thugs, and assassins who are responsible for Iraq's chaos. It would help reassure Iraqis that the Washington is not planning to leave them in the lurch, as it did so ignominiously in 1991. The violence in Iraq is surging precisely because Iraqis fear that the Americans are getting ready to throw in the towel. . . I would wager that countless Americans are upset with Bush, not because he isn't skedaddling from Iraq quickly enough, but because he seems to have no serious strategy for winning."

So who will win this civil war? The MSM militias of the New York Times, or the brave Beantown Jacobytes? Stay tuned.

Aside: Over at National Review online, Jonah Goldberg yesterday sounded a theme similar to Jacoby's. See We're Not Losers: It's not the war we hate.

Finkelstein recently returned from Iraq. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.