Thoughts on the course of the war

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I have neglected to make mention of the scandal of London-based news agency Reuters circulating retouched photos designed to discredit Israel.

The fakery was documented by blogger Charles Johnson, and Reuters fired the photographer involved and removed all his photos from its website. Johnson, you may recall, is the blogger who within 24 hours of Dan Rather's 60 Minutes II broadcast of Sept. 8, 2004, demonstrated that the documents Rather relied on (purporting to be typewritten memos showing that George W. Bush performed poorly during his military service) could be duplicated on Microsoft Word with default settings.

Two excellent pieces appeared over the weekend on this issue. One is by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times. Rutten often has defended MainStream Media when attacked by conservative bloggers. Here, he argues persuasively that MSM has not allowed itself to be manipulated by Hezbollah propaganda. The other column is by Dave Kopel in the Rocky Mountain News. He examines several other examples of dubious MSM judgment.

Gregory Rodriguez brilliantly points up the tension between liberals' desire for big government at home and their desire for weak government abroad. His basic theme is that you need a big war to galvanize support for a big state. The success of government in prosecuting World War II helped generate support for big government domestic programs. Rodriguez also references Michael Tomasky's call for his fellow liberals to come up with "big ideas," which I have also written on.

Former chief Bush speechwriter and top aide, and my former U.S. News colleague, Michael Gerson, has an essay in this week's Newsweek, which is very much worth reading. The subject is how September 11 changed George W. Bush and how he has responded in the nearly five years since then. Gerson is one of the four or five people who have conferred most closely and frequently with Bush during that time, and he gives us a good insight into Bush's thinking. He also in the following four sentences suggests that Bush really is determined to see that the Iranian regime does not get nuclear weapons and that he is prepared to take military action to prevent it:

There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iran--and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a line--someone who says, "This much and no further." At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American "cowboy diplomacy" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

A chilling thought. War is terrible, and military action against Iran might turn the Iranian people against us-the people who are probably, after Iraq's Kurds, the most pro-American people in the Middle East. Yet if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really means what he says, I think we have to regard him as another Hitler. And Hitler, as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt saw early on, and as Neville Chamberlain came to realize after bitter experience, was someone we simply could not live with. How do we live with Ahmadinejad and the mullahs if and when they have nuclear weapons?

Here is the link to my Wall Street Journal column of last Thursday on the implications of Joe Lieberman's defeat in the Connecticut Democratic primary.