Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

You should’ve asked him about the oil, Jon

Jon Stewart had former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell on his show Wednesday night, and that had Stewart at his obsequious worst.

(You can see the interview at this ‘celebrity interviews‘ page on The Daily Show’s website.)

Stewart tried to engage Powell about the U.S. rationale for engaging in war in Iraq. Much blather about WMDs. Powell would only concede they got the stockpiles dead wrong.

But what about the very likely prospect the war was never about WMDs or democracy?

Take this letter from the Project for the New American Century to former U.S. President Bill Clinton dated Jan. 26, 1998:

It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. …

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

That letter was signed by some people who went on to become key players in the Bush administration, such as Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. secretary of defense, and Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defence who now heads the World Bank, along with other top neo-cons.

Powell said war could have been avoided. I don’t see how. The way the Bush administration handled the issue had me convinced war was inevitable (maybe I just don’t understand international politics being played at the highest, most hardcore level).

In a way, Stewart is trapped. He’s not going to get guests if he rips someone, and it’s not his style to be confrontational. Since I’ve defended him for giving guests an easy ride before, I shouldn’t be too huffy about the softballs he lobbed at Powell.

But he could have asked Powell something like: “Sir, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, among others, signed a letter to President Clinton back in 1998 calling for Saddam’s overthrowal, in part because if he ever had weapons of mass destruction, a significant part of the world’s oil supply would be put at risk.

“Why would we be wrong to think the Iraq war is at least as much about oil in the Middle East as it is about WMDs or bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people?”

Unfortunately, Jon didn’t. And that’s why he’s a comedian and not a journalist.

Thu, June 9 2005 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page