My pal ParisLawyerPundit emailed today and said the French media are abuzz with the purported demagoguery of the Murdoch-controlled press, which is supposedly responsible for whipping Americans into a bloody frenzy. Weird. First I’d heard of it. I responded:
Essentially no buzz here about the “Murdoch-controlled press”, and I am a news addict. The “paper of record”, the New York Times, has been incoherent but basically anti-war, or at least anti-Bush. The Wall Street Journal has been hammer-and-tongs for ousting Saddam. The TV networks have been generally anti-war/anti-Bush. The Sun Times, which we get at home, is a Murdoch paper, and its columnists tend to be Chicago Democrats who are, again, anti-war primarily and vociferously anti-Bush. Murdoch also has George Will and John O’Sullivan and a few others who are for the war. It may not be clear in Europe, but the Left here hates Bush at least as much as the Right hated Clinton. Bottom line, there is no demagoguery. The major media in the United States have been hesitant to hostile about a war.
PLP went on to express good wishes and concern for the fate of Tony Blair. I responded:
As to Blair, I think he is secure. The Labor Party cannot oust him, probably. He survived that recent vote with half his party and all of the tories. If they tried to bring him down, he might lead a “Blairite” faction out of New Labor and provoke a new election — or form a National government with the Tories. Blair is a brilliant politician, and somewhat like Lloyd George, in but not of his party. And as LG was willing to destroy the Liberal Party out of a combination of principle and egotism, Blair may well be willing to do the same to Labor. And they know it. He led them out of the wilderness, and he could lead them back in again. (See Iain Murray on this topic).
What may happen is that the British army will sit out the initial attack, but then participate in the occupation and reconstruction phase. This would actually be a decent division of labor. Their ability to operate with our people in combat is limited, and they would suffer more casualties due to their relatively backward equipment. So, if they sit out the initial blitzkreig, that’s OK. However, they are very good at peace-keeping, counter-insurgency and all of that traditional imperial constabulary-type work. They would be a very valued addition to an occupation force. Their General Jackson hinted at this in the interview excerpt I posted on Chicago Boyz.
I also offered these thoughts on the country’s mood – as if I’m qualified to do so! But, hey, everybody’s got an opinion:
The American public is ambivalent, though willing to support the President, and they do not like Saddam. This has largely broken on partisan lines, with the uncommitted middle grudgingly willing to support the President. Recent polls show support for the President rising in the last two weeks. I attribute this to the antiwar protests, which always alienate middle class opinion, and the active opposition of the French and Germans, which has angered many people who would not ordinarily pay much attention to these types of issues. Also, I think the President’s patient attempt to go the diplomatic route has been noticed by the public. He is not a cowboy, anything but, and everybody on this side of the Atlantic knows that. Also, Bush’s patient reiteration of the criminality and evil of the Iraqi regime has been paying off. The public agrees that Saddam is evil, even if they don’t think we should attack him. And a certain amount of “liberal hawk” opinion has come around to supporting the war on humanitarian grounds, similar to what drove this group to support going into Bosnia and Kosovo. The thing Europeans seem not to get is that the United States did not perceive 9/11 as a “one off” but as a symptom of a deeper and bigger problem, of an ongoing danger. Everybody who is paying attention expects more of the same. Everybody I know in New York and DC tell me that they expect that there will be a nuclear detonation there at some point. And these are not people who are hawks or even Republicans. And many people are willing to see the government take violent action to prevent something like that from happening even once.
Anyway, that’s how it looks from my kitchen table.