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Echoes of the Run-Up to the Iraq War

Reported by Nancy - February 16, 2005 -

Today (2/16) on FNL, Brigitte Quinn did 2 interviews, almost back-to-back. The first guest was quiet, low-key, very diplomatic & uninformative. The second was a ranter, very un-diplomatic & equally uninformative. The only excuse for either of these interviews was to pound home recurrent FNL themes: Bush good, Iran/Syria bad. And it all sounded eerily familiar, because we've heard it all before: in the run-up to the Iraq War. To use a metaphor they love on FNL: the first interview was a carrot, the second a stick.

At 11:01am (all times ET) Quinn interviewed Robert Kimmitt (former US Ambassador to Germany & former undersecretary of state). The focus was on US efforts to mend fences with traditional European allies. Kimmitt said that Europeans "complained he [Bush] didn't reach out" in the past but said that Bush "is now taking a step in that direction." Quinn asked how "damaged" US-Euro relations have been by the war in Iraq, & Kimmitt said there was "some damage" but repeated that Bush is "making an exceptional & generous effort to reach out" to Europe. That wasn't enough for Quinn, who then asked if Europe could "do more to promote democracy in Iraq." Kimmitt beamed & called that a "perfect question" because "we're not asking them to support war, we're asking them to support democracy." Quinn commented that the "MidEast peace process" has re-started & "they [Europe] wanted that." Kimmitt said this is a "moment of opportunity" & added that it would be "fair for them [Europe] to say we support you on" the MidEast peace process, so "you support us on Iran."

Comment: Note that neither Quinn nor Kimmitt addressed the issue of why the US abandoned the "Road Map" -- remember that? -- or has been essentially silent on the Israeli-Palestinian issue for the past 3+ years, despite the fact that it is possibly the single most important issue for much of the rest of the world. Nope, they were too busy praising Bush for "mending fences." Who broke those fences in the first place?

Then at 11:23m Quinn interviewed Marc Ginsberg (former US Ambassador to Morocco & very frequent FNL guest). The topic was Iran & Syria "teaming up." Quinn's questions, as they often are, were a mix of opinion & statement (someone really should explain to her that merely ending a sentence on a high note does not turn it into a question, nor does quirking your eyebrows). Ginsberg used decidedly undiplomatic language to advance neo-con/Israeli points of view. He asserted that Iran & Syria have "been conniving together" against the US for years, that the Syrian government is "rotten to the core" & called it a "rogue regime" that is "desperately flailing now" & trying to "scare" the US. Ginsberg added that "it's about time we engage in less saber-rattling & got tough". When Quinn asked what he recommends the US do, Ginsberg echoed the run-up to the Iraq war, saying that we should send a "strong signal" that diplomacy has run its course. He said there are "certain selective actions inside" Syria we could take. Quinn asked if he meant military action, & Ginsberg said "paramilitary" adding that the Syrian govt is "a bunch of rogue thugs." Quinn asked if US action would be aimed at stopping Syrian support for "militant groups" & Ginsberg said "they'll never stop" so what the US wants is a "change in the government from within" & to stop the "terrorist organizations that operate against Israel." He dismissed the Syrian Alawites as "a minority within a minority." Quinn asked why it's "important that Syria leave Lebanon" & Ginsberg replied "because they support Hezbollah against Israel" then went on a rant about how the Beqaa Valley is a "hotbed of terrorists" & the "Iranians use it as staging ground" & the Syrians "give sanctuary to Iraqi Baathists" & the "Syrians connived over past 20 years to let Hamas" & the PFLP & the PLO operate out of Damascus, claiming that it's a "game they play to keep everything off balance."

Comment: If Ginsberg's rant sounds familiar, that's because you've heard it before, many times, from pro-Israeli neo-con hawks. Ginsberg never once mentioned the "spreading democracy" ploy, even when Quinn asked him directly about why Syria should leave Lebanon. And isn't it funny how no one in the US (on Fox or elsewhere) ever mentions that Israel has an active nuclear weapons program? Shouldn't we be concerned about that?

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