Permalink | Date posted: May 30, 2011
Many commentators have noticed a decidedly hawkish bent among the columnists of the Washington Post in recent years. Although the Post continues to publish a number of progressive writers—like the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and the American Prospect's Harold Meyerson—the newspaper's hiring in 2010 of neoconservative ideologue Jennifer Rubin and torture-apologist Marc Thiessen appeared to mark a decisive turn toward an aggressively hawkish outlook for one of the country's premier sources of opinion and political commentary, leading some to question the editorial direction of editorial page chief Fred Hiatt.
It is important that a newspaper provide space to a broad spectrum of opinions in order to be "fair and balanced." The trouble is, even before Rubin and Thiessen were brought on board, the Post had a stable of reliable—and generally more thoughtful—neocons like Charles Krauthammer and Robert Kagan. The rationale provided for the recent hires also raised questions. For instance, in announcing Rubin's hire, the Post said that she would serve as a counterpart to liberal Greg Sargent’s “Plum Line." But as one writer observed, that explanation revealed a great deal "about the way that 'balance' is understood in the mainstream media. Sargent certainly leans liberal, but he is also a very good reporter who breaks stories and is willing to criticize the Democrats; Rubin, by contrast, has no real experience as a reporter ... and has never met a Republican or Likud talking point she didn’t like."
In this, the inaugural edition of Right Web's "Militarist Monitor" project—which aims to put a spotlight on important trends in militarist discourse in the United States—we feature profiles of WaPo's key hawks and neoconservatives, as well as an assortment of additional resources for investigating the newspaper’s long march to the militarist right since the attacks of 9/11 and the campaign to push the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Will Iran be next? As one well known conservative blogger wrote nearly two years ago, “The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing.”
Since Jackson Diehl took over as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor in 2001, the newspaper’s editorial slant has become increasingly hawkish and conservative.
Jennifer Rubin is a blogger at the Washington Post who is notorious for her anti-liberal invective and “pro-Israel” advocacy.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is a trailblazing neoconservative ideologue and an unapologetic advocate for U.S. overseas militarism.
Robert Kagan is a leading neoconservative policy pundit, a cofounder of numerous militarist pressure groups, and an important backer of U.S. overseas military interventions like the Iraq War.
Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, is a Washington Post columnist and American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow known for his defense of hawkish U.S. security policies, including “enhanced interrogation techniques."
Applebaum, a program director at the London-based Legatum Institute and a former American Enterprise Institute fellow, writes a column for the Washington Post in which she has revealed an on-again-off-again affinity for U.S. military interventions, including pushing the idea that President Obama must be prepared to go to war with Iran.
A conservative syndicated columnist who writes regularly for the Washington Post, Gerson’s track record includes coining the phrase “axis of evil” and developing the Bush administration’s messaging on the Iraq War.
Hiatt, the Washington Post’s “liberal hawk” editorial page editor, says that he is opposed to the efforts of some of his contributors—like neoconservative pundit Jennifer Rubin—to demonize opponents by referring to their “mental health,” but he apparently sees no reason to “censor” them.
With the United States bogged down in an increasingly ugly war in Iraq, tensions rising between Tehran and Washington, and…
Robert Perry, “Giving War a Chance,” Consortium News, April 21, 2011.
On the Washington Post’s and New York Times’ promotion of expanding U.S. military intervention in Libya.
Eli Clifton, “Washington Post ‘Conservative’ Blogger Aligned With the Pro-Israel Far Right,” ThinkProgress, February 5, 2011.
On the Post’s embrace of a hawkish “pro-Israel” ideologue.
Ali Gharib, “Conservative Pundit Jennifer Rubin Joins the Mainstream Media,” Columbia Journalism Review, December 7, 2010.
Hiatt and Rubin comment on the Post’s decision to hire Rubin.
Daniel Luban, “Will Pamela Geller Be Next?” Lobelog, November 24, 2010.
When the Post hired former Bush speechwriter and torture enthusiast Marc Thiessen as an opinion columnist, I encountered widespread disgust and some outrage among the people I talked to about the hire. Reaction to the Jennifer Rubin hire, by contrast, has largely consisted of amusement and incredulous smirks. “What was Fred Hiatt thinking?”
Jamison Foser, “The myth of the 'liberal' Washington Post opinion pages,” Media Matters, February 19, 2010.
There may be no better example of the absurdity of the "liberal media" myth than the widespread notion that the Post's opinion pages lean to the left.
Glenn Greenwald, “Persecution of the Right and the Washington Post Op-Ed,” Salon.com, June 19, 2009.
A single-day sampling of militarism on the Post’s editorial page, including several writers pushing President Obama about “freedom” in Iran.
Glenn Greenwald, “The Washington Post fires its best columnist. Why?” Salon.com, June 18, 2009.
On the firing of Dan Froomkin.
Jason Linkins, “Washington Post Promotes Editor Who Dismissed Concerns Of Pre-War Coverage,” Huffington Post, February 21, 2009.
It is not just the Post’s editorial pages that have taken a hawkish turn in recent years.
Eric Boehlert, “The Washington Post's crush on right-wing bloggers,” Media Matters, February 26, 2007.
The Post has a love-hate relationship with right-wing bloggers. The Post loves the bloggers, but the bloggers hate the Post.
James Pinkerton, “The Washington Post's creeping hawkishness,” Salon.com, August 4, 2004.
Once it challenged Nixon. Now the supposedly liberal Post is attacking Senator Kerry for not fully embracing the Iraq War.
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Eric Edelman, undersecretary for defense in the George W. Bush administration and a board member of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative, has long been associated with hawkish factions in U.S. politics, advising the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Mitt Romney. Edelman has advocated a militaristic response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, calling on NATO to become directly involved in Ukraine and to reconsider its policy of not placing nuclear weapons in member states that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Many international relations experts argue that such a move would likely provoke Russia into additional aggressive actions.
Otto Reich is a former U.S. diplomat who is best known for his participation in a domestic propaganda operation during the Iran-Contra affair. Since leaving government in 2004, Reich has continued to promote rightwing U.S. policies in Latin American while working as a beltway lobbyist representing Latin American governments and business interests. The Guatemalan government recently awarded a contract to Reich’s firm to “improve the perception, reputation, and the understanding of the reality of Guatemala.” Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina appears to have been motivated to hire a lobbyist to counter criticism that was spurred after the arrival in the U.S. of tens of thousands of undocumented migrant children from Central America. Molina attempted to deflect the criticism by blaming the drug war and U.S. Cold War-era policies. “Given Pérez Molina's sharp criticism of the United States' history in the region,” commented one writer, “his choice—former Reagan official and noted Cold War propagandist Otto Reich—was a shocker.”
Unlike his more ideological peers, former CNN political analyst Bill Schneider seldom engages in straightforward issue advocacy, preferring instead to discuss policy issues in terms of their implications for electoral politics or Beltway political discourse. However, Schneider—a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution—occasionally betrays interventionist leanings on foreign policy, declaring in a recent op-ed that “if the U.S. doesn't do anything, nothing happens. … As in Kuwait, Kosovo and Libya, if the U.S. doesn't do something [in Syria], nothing will happen. The murderous bloodletting will go on.”
The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a leading neoconservative think tank, claims to have a solution to the ongoing fallout from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq: send more troops, bomb more targets, and get involved in Syria as well. Along with peddling an aggressive expansion of NATO along Russia’s borders and expounding on the virtues of nuclear weapons, FPI’s recent publications have urged the U.S. to send troops to Iraq and potentially Syria, launch an aggressive campaign of airstrikes against ISIS, and funnel arms to the Iraqi army (which previously handed over its weapons to ISIS), Sunni rebels in Syria (who could do the same), and Kurdish fighters in Iraq.
Retired Gen. Jack Keane is a frequent guest on Fox News and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, where he is a reliable advocate for hawkish, aggressive U.S. foreign policies. Keane has been a vocal supporter of U.S. strikes in both Iraq and Syria on ISIS. However, left unmentioned in Keane's media appearances are his extensive ties to military contractors that might benefit from a protracted conflict in the Middle East—including Academi, the latest incarnation of the notorious Blackwater, which in 2012 hired Keane as a “strategic adviser.”