the bitter lapse into everyday life, the hideous dropping off of the veil
Of Chipmunks, Smoke, and Mirrors

Wall Street Journal Editor Helps Instigate Iraq War

David so desired the full text of the Financial Times piece quoted yesterday by Paul Krugman in the NYT that we now have an online subscription to The Financial Times. Here's another gem from the same editorial from which Krugman quoted:

. . . watching the world's economic superpower slowly destroy perhaps the world's most enviable fiscal position is something to behold.

Yesterday, the Financial Times had another juicy subscribers-only analysis piece, The plot that split old and new Europe asunder by Quentin Peel, James Harding, Judy Dempsey, Gerard Baker and Robert Graham. The authors make the case that the split in Europe was a policy goal of the United States, and further, that an editor at the Wall Street Journal had a direct hand in it. It's a long, detailed piece. Here's a sample:

Mr Havel's signature was being sought for a sensitive document. For several days previously, as transatlantic tension over the looming war in Iraq intensified, Britain and Spain had been secretly promoting the idea of making a declaration of solidarity with the US. It was to be published on January 30 as an open letter in The Wall Street Journal and a handful of national newspapers across Europe. It would make clear that the anti-war stance espoused by France and Germany did not represent the views of all Europe. . . .

The Czechs were more difficult. The office of Vladimir Spidla, the prime minister, in Prague said it would be impossible to secure parliamentary approval for such a declaration. It looked as if they would be left out. In Washington, however, someone thought otherwise. That was Bruce Jackson.

Mr Jackson is not an official. Nor is he exactly an anonymous private citizen. Instead, the one-time military intelligence officer and ex-Wall Street banker is a sort of freelance US envoy to the former Soviet bloc. For much of the past 10 years, he has acted as a go-between for Washington and the would-be members of Nato in central Europe, becoming a tireless campaigner for the cause of Nato enlargement. . . .

It is hard to exaggerate the effect on internal European politics of the two declarations - the Letter of Eight and and the statement by the Vilnius 10. The first showed that the existing members of the EU were profoundly divided. The second demonstrated that there was indeed a different view between "old" Europe, led by France and Germany, and the "new" entrants emerging from the Warsaw pact.

Their impact had nothing to do with the contents but with the manner of their preparation. In many quarters, they were taken as evidence of a US-led conspiracy to divide Europe. It was not simply that the French and Germans had been kept in the dark. None of the procedures of the EU had been followed: neither Greece, holding the rotating EU presidency, nor Javier Solana, the "high representative" for foreign policy, had been informed. . . .

American involvement was suspected behind the conception of both letters: in the first, because it was first proposed by The Wall Street Journal; and in the second because of the involvement of Mr Jackson.

The document was originally proposed by Mike Gonzalez, deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. He had contacted Tony Blair's office in London and Silvio Berlusconi's office in Rome and had received a tepid response. But response from Mr Aznar's staff in Madrid was far more enthusiastic. After Alberto Carnero, the prime minister's diplomatic adviser, had drafted the first text and Mr Aznar sent it to Downing Street, the Spanish prime minister's enthusiasm infected Mr Blair. . .

The Bush administration insist it did not have a hand in the Letter. Officials even give the impression that it came as a surprise, albeit a welcome one. But the White House had been kept well informed along the way. Officials such as Dan Bartlett, the communications director, and Dan Fried at the NSC were told of the plan to write such a letter. The day before it was published, Alastair Campbell, the British prime minister's official spokesman, sent a copy to the White House.

For those of us concerned that the media helped instigate the Iraq war, here is a rather high caliber smoking gun. What the hell is the Wall Street Journal doing involved in this capacity? You tell me. I call it yellow journalism. While this is all very entertaining when people like Bruce Sterling make this kind of stuff up for their novels, to have it happening for real is deeply upsetting.

The Financial Times has an indepth set of articles concerning this new divide in Europe which is well worth diving into and swimming around in. (You can get a free 15-day trial online subscription. Take their offer and read it all.)

UPDATE: I see now that the WSJ's role in this was public knowledge last February: from the Sydney Morning Herald, How the Journal recruited cheerleaders for war.

I also found the WSJ's reply to their critics (I don't know if this link will work for the general reader):

The fact that a newspaper would practice such journalism has caused some wonderful exasperation, and even conspiracy theories. The normally serious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ended its report on Friday with this probing question: "Did The Wall Street Journal really come up with the idea to suggest a declaration by the eight leaders, or did someone lend a helping hand?" The French newspaper Liberation, also scooped on its own turf, wrote that, "The very strong links between The Wall Street Journal and the `hawks' of the Bush Administration also raise the question of the role Washington played in the initiative."

We admit to having sources in the Bush Administration, among other places, but they had nothing to do with our soliciting European leaders. We've been in favor of ousting Saddam Hussein for years, going back to the Gulf War and long before President Bush made it his policy. If the op-ed by Europe's leaders somehow helped Mr. Bush's diplomacy in addition to selling newspapers, that's fine with us.

Hearst would be proud of them. What is war for, after all, if not to sell papers?

MEANWHILE, the Wall Street Journal (also by paid sub) estimates that the war has cost the US nearly 80 billion.