by , MSNBC Opinion Columnist

…for MSNBC

U.S. troops in Iraq quietly thwarted two separate drone attacks on bases hosting American soldiers in the first week of 2022. The attacks, attributed to Iraqi Shiite militias, are no surprise: America’s presence in Iraq is increasingly unwelcome.

More attacks are bound to come as long as the Biden administration decides to keep forces there. With each passing day, the risk of a deadly attack increases.

American soldiers are likely to die in vain because, just as in Afghanistan, they have been given the impossible task of acting as an ephemeral thumb on the scale of a foreign country’s politics.

Adam Weinstein and I argue in an op-ed in the New York Times today that just as the United States withdrew from Afghanistan last year because its presence no longer served US interests, it should begin withdrawing fully from Iraq as well before an Iraqi militia kills an American soldier and drags the US back into war in Iraq. The op-ed is pasted below.

Also, I have a column at MSNBC today addressing the latest kerfuffle between Biden officials and the media. Journalists have rightly pushed back against government spokespeople questioning their patriotism simply for questioning information provided by the government.

But the very same policing of patriotism it accuses Biden officials of, the media does itself to those scrutinizing the foundational premises of U.S. national security thinking.

The media should be commended for questioning government narratives. But this is only one aspect of their responsibility. Another part is to scrutinize the deeper assumptions of U.S. foreign policy strategies. This, however, is rarely done by the media.

I argue that however commendable the viral exchanges between journalists and government officials this past week were, they still only scratched the surface of what needs to be questioned.


The media needs to push Biden harder on foreign policy

The discussion of media clashes with Jen Psaki and Ned Price over Syria and Russia show how limited our debate is.

Many in the media patted themselves on their backs last week after  viral exchanges between reporters and Biden administration officials showcased journalists’ crucial role in scrutinizing government assertions, rather than parroting them.

In both cases, officials deflected probing questions about events in Russia and Syria with demeaning trust-us-or-trust-America’s-enemies dismissals. But the self-congratulatory rhetoric of the media over these incidents risks obscuring the reality that it has, by and large, failed to question deeper assumptions about the government’s national security strategy.

NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe requested evidence last week that the children killed in a recent raid against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria had died as a result of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi detonating a suicide bomb, and not as a result of U.S. bombs.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded by asking whether skeptics think the U.S. military is “not providing accurate information and ISIS is providing accurate information.” Psaki was essentially suggesting that requesting evidence was tantamount to siding with the terrorist group’s account of the event.

Some introspection by the media is also warranted.

Later that day, Matt Lee of The Associated Press questioned State Department spokesman Ned Price about the Biden administration’s allegations of a planned Russian false flag operation aimed at setting the stage for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Once again, Price suggested that questioning the U.S. government narrative was akin to taking Moscow’s side in the conflict. “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government … and want to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that’s for you to do,” he told Lee. (Price later apologized to Lee).

Members of the media are justified in their criticism of the Biden administration’s treatment of journalists in the past week. The health of democracy will quickly deteriorate if power is not held to account, either by various branches balancing one another or the media questioning and investigating the government’s “official truth.”

From the Vietnam War to the lies to sell the Iraq War to drones striking civilians in Afghanistan, the U.S. national security apparatus has earned the public’s healthy distrust. Journalists such as Lee and Rascoe should be commended for not backing down in the face of unwarranted questioning of their patriotism, whether by Trump administration officials or those on the Biden team.

But alongside the defense of the media’s responsibility to challenge government officials, some introspection by the media is also warranted. The questioning of specific intelligence, circumstances around particular incidents, are at the end of the day, only one part of the media’s responsibility to critically examine, investigate and dig for the truth.

Another part is to scrutinize the foundational premises of U.S. national security thinking. But not only does the media by and large fail to do this — what’s worse is that it often engages in the very policing of patriotism that it accuses Biden officials of doing.

It is far too uncommon for the media to consistently investigate and scrutinize the deep assumptions underpinning American foreign policy. For instance, does the strategy of global military dominance — the United States has more than 750 military bases worldwide, China has two — make America safer, or does it bring it into unnecessary conflicts while depleting its coffers?

The answer to this question will have a profound impact on how the U.S. handles the rise of China, for instance. Why are military withdrawals, such as the withdrawal from Afghanistan or Trump’s earlier suggestion of getting out of Syria, always treated as demoralizing defeats, while America’s increasing diplomatic absence worldwide — from Biden’s inability to bring a diplomatic end to the war in Yemen to the ongoing diplomatic neglect of Latin America — not generate the same outrage?

  Read more..

SOURCETrita Parsi

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  1. It is very clear, that if we are to revert to a Democratic Republic, from the current Oligarchy, the military industrial complex will have to be dealt with.
    Are we protecting people from oppression and tyranny, or offering a better corporate environment, thereby sapping the talent of the countries we occupy, keeping them poor, and moving our labor markets in a profitable direction ? Talent harvesting.
    How are we operating our agriculture sector, like an occupation ? The monster tractors are the military, and the workers are the refugees and victims of oppression we cultivated ?

  2. There is absolutely nothing Biden can do about US foreign policy and stay alive. The last American president who tried was John Kennedy and look what happened to him. Biden, as the commander in chief, could end the current crisis in Ukraine in about 5 minutes if he gave the order to…

    1. Stop sending American warships into the Black Sea to provoke incidents.
    2. Stop free military aid to Ukraine and Georgia.
    3. Stop military exercises with non-NATO nations in Europe.
    4. Close the new American missile bases in Poland and Romania that can launch cruise missiles with nuclear warheads.

    • That would save the US taxpayer billions of dollars, but Biden would be assassinated by the usual suspects.

    • The war based economy that was established and imposed since a hundred fifty years ago and its marketing department now in Tel Aviv who owns every western politician is corporate power based, and will financially ruin anyone going against it especially a seasoned politician from Delaware a state where all tax dodgers are registered.
      At the end of the day they work for their own stock portfolios.

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