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FOX News Uses Middle East War As Opportunity To Resurrect Neocon Agenda

Reported by Ellen - July 19, 2006 -

Five years after 9/11, Hezbollah has abruptly sprung up on FOX News as the United States’ greatest enemy. I’ve been following FOX News on a daily basis for almost two and a half years and I can’t remember a single discussion about any significant menace to the US from them. But now that Israel is engaged in a war against them, Hezbollah is suddenly being touted as a bigger threat than Al Qaeda. Didn’t we hear this once before about Iraq?

It was another non-stop parade of pro-Israel, pro-war guests on Hannity & Colmes last night (7/18/06) but this time the war talk was ratcheted up a few notches to make it sound as though the US is in grave danger from Hezbollah and Hamas. Nobody questioned why we might be under such a threat when we’re supposedly fighting our enemies over there instead of over here. Nor did anyone ask why, if Hezbollah's such a menace, Bush failed to focus on them in all this time instead of getting bogged down in Iraq.

Instead, FOX News' Hannity & Colmes showed the escalation of tensions as both a grave threat and a big opportunity. Shepard Smith, reporting from Israel called the war “an opportunity, an opportunity to make the misery go away.” James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, said, “We should not let this opportunity go by and to deprive Iran, essentially of its proxies and two of those are Hamas and Hezbollah and one is Syria.” Woolsey added, “We can’t expect (the Israelis) to do everything.”

Sean Hannity, who never served in the military, himself, has been salivating for a new war since before this conflict began. Naturally, he agreed wholeheartedly with Woolsey. But last night Hannity also saw an opportunity to make political hay out of the situation. He told Woolsey, “You point out the political battle and the undermining of the president in this war against Iraq, I think I would add to that, contributed to this.”

Alan Colmes asked, “We were told we go into Iraq, the Mid-East falls, stabilizes that region, we get cheaper oil. None of this has happened. Now you want to go into another country, destabilize another regime. How many American lives would it be worth to go into Syria?”

Oops, off message. Woolsey had barely finished answering before the music started and the segment was over. Colmes’ portion of the interview lasted less than 45 seconds. Hannity, on the other hand, got more than three minutes with Woolsey.

Terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson, who has been discredited by FAIR, drove home the fear factor. “There’s really no difference between the Al Qaeda agenda, ultimately, and that of Hezbollah… I would say to you that Hezbollah has a greater network, much more elaborate, much more developed around the world… So I would think potentially Hezbollah could wreak a lot more damage if they chose to attack the United States within the continental borders.”

While Emerson spoke, the screen read, “Iranian Hezbollah threatens to attack US & Israeli Interests.”

Emerson continued, “I know from intelligence sources to whom I’ve spoken to (sic) in the last year, Hezbollah has also been brought up into San Diego from Tijuana and the fact is that Hezbollah’s trying to develop this infrastructure so it can threaten the United States as it has carried out attacks over the past decade and a half.”

FOX News military analysts Bill Cowan and Bob Magnnis echoed those sentiments. Maginnis told the audience, “(Hezbollah has) the largest terrorist training facility in the Bekaa Valley… which is, of course, sponsored by Iran… They’re very well organized… Certainly the world’s largest terrorist organization, allied with Al Qaeda.”

As Think Progress noted,

In 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser (all later senior officials in the Bush administration) had a plan for how to destroy Hezbollah: Invade Iraq.They wrote a report to the newly elected Likud government in Israel calling for “a clean break” with the policies of negotiating with the Palestinians and trading land for peace.

The problem could be solved “if Israel seized the strategic initiative along it northern borders by engaging Hizballah (sic), Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon.” The key, they said, was to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” They called for “reestablishing the principle of preemption.” They promised that the successes of these wars could be used to launch campaigns against Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reshaping “the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly.”

Now, with the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, with Bush losing control of world events, and with the threats to national security growing worse, no one could possibly still believe this plan, could they? Think again.