My Unfinished 9/11 Business
(The New York Times) -- By BILL KELLER --
Ten years after the attacks, we memorialize the loss and we mark the heroism, but there is no organized remembrance of the other feelings that day aroused: the bewilderment, the vulnerability, the impotence. It may be difficult to recall with our attention now turned inward upon a faltering economy, but the suddenly apparent menace of the world awakened a bellicose surge of mission and made hawks of many — including me — who had a lifelong wariness of the warrior reflex.
When the planes hit, I was beginning a new life in the opinion department, an elevator ride up from the newsroom that I had served as a Times reporter and editor for 17 years. My debut was not for a couple of weeks, and I was laboring on a nice, safe essay about Western water rights. As the ash cloud spread, I set off on foot through the dazed city, feeling more than a little pointless, until I was summoned by my new boss to write. Something. Now.
My first Op-Ed column, published Sept. 12, counted the ways our sense of the world would now be changed; we would be like Israelis, rearranging our lives around threat. The column was the opposite of warlike.
“Perhaps,” I counseled, “after the obligatory and symbolic reprisals, which will be as ineffectual as Israel’s, our president will spend more time talking about the real-world vigilance of intelligence and law enforcement — which depend on a world of carefully tended alliances — and less about the computer-game threat of a nuclear missile from a suicidal rogue state, which we can handle in the solitude of the Situation Room.”
But my prudent punditry soon felt inadequate. I remember a mounting protective instinct, heightened by the birth of my second daughter almost exactly nine months after the attacks. Something dreadful was loose in the world, and the urge to stop it, to do something — to prove something — was overriding a career-long schooling in the virtues of caution and skepticism. By the time of Alice’s birth I had already turned my attention to Iraq, a place that had, in the literal sense, almost nothing to do with 9/11, but which would be its most contentious consequence. And I was no longer preaching “the real-world vigilance of intelligence and law enforcement.”
During the months of public argument about how to deal with Saddam Hussein, I christened an imaginary association of pundits the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club, made up of liberals for whom 9/11 had stirred a fresh willingness to employ American might. It was a large and estimable group of writers and affiliations, including, among others, Thomas Friedman of The Times; Fareed Zakaria, of Newsweek; George Packer and Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker; Richard Cohen of The Washington Post; the blogger Andrew Sullivan; Paul Berman of Dissent; Christopher Hitchens of just about everywhere; and Kenneth Pollack, the former C.I.A. analyst whose book, “The Threatening Storm,” became the liberal manual on the Iraqi threat. (Yes, it is surely relevant that this is exclusively a boys’ club.)
In several columns I laid out justifications for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. There were caveats — most significantly, that there was no reason to rush, that we should hold off to see whether Iraq’s behavior could be sufficiently contained by sanctions and inspections. Like many liberal hawks, I was ambivalent; Pollack said he was 55 to 45 for war, which feels about right.
But when the troops went in, they went with my blessing. Of course I don’t think President Bush was awaiting permission from The New York Times’s Op-Ed page — or, for that matter, from my friends in the Times newsroom, who during the prewar debate published some notoriously credulous stories about Iraqi weapons. The administration, however, was clearly pleased to cite the liberal hawks as evidence that invading Iraq was not just the impetuous act of cowboy neocons. Thus did Tony Judt in 2006 coin another, unkinder name for our club: “Bush’s Useful Idiots.”
In 2004, a year after the invasion, and again in 2008, Jacob Weisberg, editor of the online magazine Slate and a charter member of my I-Can’t-Believe club, invited liberal hawks to second-guess their support for the war. The responses ranged from remorse to self-vindication, with lots of tortured doubt and defensiveness in between. But I held my tongue. By that time I had moved from the Op-Ed page into a job — executive editor — in which I was obliged to keep my opinions to myself lest they be mistaken for the newspaper’s agenda or influence our coverage. I’m pretty sure the reporters who have covered Iraq with such distinction in the ensuing years could not tell you whether I still believed the war was just or necessary. I’m not sure I knew myself at that point. It is the job of news to recount, clear-eyed, what is, and questions of what should be are an occupational distraction. In any case, I declined to participate in Slate’s collective examination of conscience...MORE...LINK
Chris Moore comments:
Who the hell does Bill Keller think he's fooling with this phony liberal soul-searching?
What an absolute farce, fraud and lying degenerate. Just like the liberal fascist Democratic Party leadership, the man is surrounded by Jewish Zionists, works for Jewish Zionists, collaborates with Jewish Zionists, pursues the liberal fascist and Zionist agenda day after day, week after week, year after year...now he's conveniently adopted a pose of tortured conscience and second guessing...but STILL refuses to name or even hint at the Judeofascist Zionist, liberal fascist and neocon agenda that's been pulling the strings on this epically evil, anti-Christian and anti-Western enterprise for decades.
These liberal fascist manipulators might even be more dishonest, evil and dangerous than the neocons given that the former will play "chastened" possum and adopt a "tortured, sensitive soul" pose when necessary to maintain the fraud, preserve their moral authority, and continue their soulless, murderous game-playing indefinitely, whereas the neocons are open, unapologetic assholes and Israel-firsters 24/7/365.
What's more dangerous, an open and unapologetic, murderous, neocon asshole, or a murderous, liberal fascist asshole who has mastered the art of feigning sensitivity and conscience in order disarm his victims and make them easier to stab in the back or slaughter at earliest convenience?
Bill Keller, you and your co-liberal fascist propagandists missed your calling. You would have been far more true to yourselves and authentic as serial killers cruising hipster liberal bars and plying your airhead victims with politically correct platitudes to gain their trust and get down their defenses prior to inserting the knife.
As it stands now, you simply come across as a bald-faced liar and murderer whose been caught in the act red handed, but is too sniveling, cowardly and calculating to fully confess to his evil deeds in the hope that someday he might find a craven Jewish lawyer clever enough to get him off on a technicality.