On September 12, 2007, Philippe Karsenty of Paris will present his appeal of a judgment for defamation rendered in favor of Charles Enderlin, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for France 2, the television station responsible for airing the Mohamed Al Durah hoax which was adopted, at birth, as official informatiom in nearly every corner of the world. Karsenty, editor of Media-Ratings, www.m-r.fr, an internet service that monitors the French media, questioned Enderlinâ€™s veracity and challenged him to explain obvious defects and inconsistencies in the Al Durah story. Initially, the Israeli government had taken responsibility for the boyâ€™s death, but later concluded that it had reliable evidence that the case was a fraud. Daniel Seaman, Director of Israelâ€™s Government Press Office, openly calls the alleged â€œmurderâ€ of Al Durah a hoax. France 2 is holding 27 minutes of raw footage of the incident, which could resolve the controversy once and for all. But it refuses to release the tapes. The trial court, finding in favor of Enderlin, disregarded the evidence Karsenty presented. Instead, the judge relied on a two-year old letter from former French President, Jacques Chirac, that did not refer to the Al Durah incident at all, but simply complimented Enderlin as a journalist. Politics aside, the evidence stands on its own. Reminiscent of the Dreyfus Affair that occurred more than 100 years earlier, few have stepped forward to assist Karsenty in rebutting this lieâ€”a lie with sufficient currency to defame every Jew alive in the world today. It is not really Karsenty, the individual, who is on trial, but the State of Israel and the Jewish peopleâ€”for a staged â€œmurderâ€ that the world chose to accept as true. Seven years after the supposed â€œcrime,â€ the lie persists as if it had a life of its own. But, the real crime, the crime that did, in fact, occur and for which no one has been charged, nor punished, is the crime of defaming Israel and the Jewsâ€”a crime that has unleashed murder and terrorism in its wake and that has compromised the integrity of every journalist and public servant who has ever chosen to report the hoax as true. Some did so, deliberately, and without shame. Some disobeyed their conscience and chose convenience over honor. Still others went along with the hoax out of slothfulness, simply failing to exercise the diligence required of their profession. None can be excused for acting in good faith because the evidence was, and is, clear and unambiguousâ€”impossible to ignore. Moreover, the evidence is substantive and overwhelming. The fact that the Al Dura story is a hoax is apparent to anyone who cares to cast a critical eye on the unedited, raw footage of the incident that has so far become available.
There really is no particularly informative historical precedent for Gen. David Petraeus’ upcoming public assessment of Iraq.
Perhaps we are entering new historical terrain, where the commanding general’s pivotal strategic gambit is a media event.
And media event it is. With its certain long-term global import and short-term political impact, Petraeus’ report meets a hustling television exec’s primal requirement: drama.
When the spotlight strikes his face and he begins to speak, we will witness drama in large letters.
No one, however, should confuse the general’s appearance with entertainment.
When people say that they want to end the war in Iraq, I always want to ask them which war they mean. There are currently at least three wars, along with several subconflicts, being fought on Iraqi soil. The first, tragically, is the battle for mastery between Sunni and Shiite. The second is the campaign to isolate and defeat al-Qaida in Mesopotamia. The third is the struggle of Iraq’s Kurdish minority to defend and consolidate its regional government in the north.
I confess: Denial never solves anything. But neither does sensational and deceptive journalism.
Newsweek illustrates this point by its choice of cover art–a picture of the sun, where the surface temperature hovers around 6,000 degrees Celsius. Given that the consensus scientific estimate for average temperature increases over the next century is a comparatively modest 2.6 degrees, this would seem a rather Murdochian way of convincing readers about the gravity of the climate threat. On the inside pages is a photograph of a polar bear stranded on melting ice. But the caption that the bears are “at risk” belies clear evidence that the bear population has risen five-fold since the 1960s. Another series of photographs, of a huge Antarctic ice shelf that quickly disintegrated in 2002, suggests the imminence of doom. But why not also mention that temperatures at the South Pole have been going down for 50 years?
Not in the Vietnam war of 1963-68, the disastrous years where policy was shaped by the best and brightest of American liberalism. Not in the Vietnam war of 1969-73, when Richard Nixon and General Creighton Abrams managed to adjust our strategy, defeat the enemy, and draw down American troops all at once–an achievement affirmed and rewarded by the American electorate in November 1972. Not in the Vietnam of early 1975, when the Democratic Congress insisted on cutting off assistance to our allies in South Vietnam and Cambodia, thereby inviting the armies of the North and the Khmer Rouge to attack. And not in the defeats of April 1975. As the American left celebrated from New York to Hollywood, in Phnom Penh former Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak wrote to John Gunther Dean, the American ambassador, turning down his offer of evacuation:
Dear Excellency and Friend:
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter, because we all are born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you [the Americans].
Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.
The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh a few days later. Sirik Matak was executed: shot in the stomach, he was left without medical help and took three days to die. Between 1 and 2 million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge in the next three years. Next door, tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed, and many more imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands braved the South China Sea to reach freedom.
George W. Bush gave a speech about Iraq last week, and in the middle of it he did something long overdue: He attempted to appropriate the left’s most treasured all-purpose historical analogy. Indeed, Vietnam is so ubiquitous in the fulminations of politicians, academics and pundits that we could really use anti-trust legislation to protect us from shopworn historical precedents. But, in the absence thereof, the president has determined that we might at least learn the real “lessons of Vietnam.”
“Then as now, people argued the real problem was America’s presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end,” Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Aug. 22. “Many argued that if we pulled out there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people â€¦ . A columnist for the New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists: ‘It’s difficult to imagine,’ he said, ‘how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone.’ A headline on that story, dateline Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: ‘Indochina Without Americans: For Most a Better Life.’ The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be.”
The New York Times recently declared “the disturbing truth … that … the United States is a laggard not a leader in providing good medical care.”
As usual, the Times editors get it wrong.
After months of surreality, the Iraq debate has quite abruptly acquired a relationship to reality. Following the Democratic victory last November, panicked Republican senators began rifling the thesaurus to find exactly the right phrase to express exactly the right nuance to establish exactly the right distance from the president’s Iraq policy, while Murtha Democrats searched for exactly the right legislative ruse to force a retreat from Iraq without appearing to do so.
In the last month, however, as a consensus has emerged about realities on the ground in Iraq, a reasoned debate has begun. A number of fair-minded observers, both critics and supporters of the war, agree that the surge has yielded considerable military progress, while at the national political level the Maliki government remains a disaster.
August 21, 2007 — ONE key promise that Nicolas Sarkozy had made during his presidential election campaign last spring was to “correct foreign-policy mistakes” made by his predecessor Jacques Chirac.
Chief among these was Chirac’s desperate efforts to prevent Iraq’s liberation from Saddam Hussein’s regime of terror. Chirac failed to save his friend’s regime but managed to sour relations with the United States, Great Britain and more than 40 other democracies that joined the Coalition of the Willing to liberate Iraq in 2003.
Sarkozy’s moves to correct the mistake started before his election, when he met President Bush at the White House in 2006 and described Chirac’s policy as “arrogant.”