Ralph Peters keeps his eye on the big picture in his New York Post column this morning: “The ultimate technology in this war hasn’t been a smart bomb, but the American soldier. Again. Critics at home and abroad have complained that it’s taking us weeks to conquer Iraq. Wait until the truth sinks in that we conquered Iraq in just weeks.” His column is “On to Baghdad!”
We’re not waiting for the truth to sink in at the New York Times, but the Post editors run their own hopeful column on the subject: “A pause in the spin?”
Bernard Lewis is of course the learned scholar of Islam whose books have become required reading for those trying to understand the war we we are in. He doesn’t write many opinion columns, but the folks at RealClearPolitics have found his column for Canada’s National Post: “Saddam’s regime is a European import.”
Professor Lewis begins his column: “In the Western world, knowledge of history is poor — and the awareness of history is frequently poorer. For example, people often argue today as if the kind of political order that prevails in Iraq is part of the immemorial Arab and Islamic tradition. This is totally untrue.”
You might think that since 9/11 the paper of record would have been begging Professor Lewis for columns to give its readers appropriate historical perspective on the war. But as Rocket Man’s post below suggests, these matters are apparently not handled in this kind of straightforward inquiring spirit at the Times. You start with the conclusion and work back from there to make the news and opinion fit.
Last night former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger stated on Fox News that he had been invited to submit a column critical of the administration’s handling of the war to the Times. So that’s how it works! I guess that’s why the Times news and editorial pages haven’t bothered with Professor Lewis. Fortunately, it is possible to find an audio version of an interview with him on his book What Went Wrong? in the Times’ book review section.
I can’t find a reference to Eagleburger’s statement on the Fox News Web site, but the site has provided me my daily dose of news on Columbia’s “Mogadishu” professor: “Stir continues over Columbia professor’s comments.”
The Fox piece quotes Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia, on the professor’s infamous comments. Bollinger is the former head of the University of Michigan who came to prominence as the defender of the university’s various racially discriminatory admissions programs once they could no longer be concealed.
Reading the transcripts of the oral argument made by the attorneys for the university in the two Michigan cases in the Supreme Court I was struck by how much headway the university’s lawyers seemed to make muttering mumbo jumbo about “diversity” and “critical mass.” It reminded me of the film “Cool Hand Luke.” In one of the movie’s many unforgettable scenes, Luke bluffs his way to cleaning up from his fellow inmates in a prison poker game. When the leader of the inmates admiringly observes that Luke won with nothing in his hand, Luke responds: “Yeah, well, sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.”
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