Jonathan Chait

How The New Yorker Supported The Iraq War

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Current Biography's feature on Rick Hertzberg covers mostly familiar (to me) ground. But this recounting of the magazine's debate over the Iraq War seems pretty interesting:

A week before the start of the war with Iraq--which the administration claimed had so-called weapons of mass destruction--Hertzberg wrote for the New Yorker (March 17, 2003), "Both among those who, on balance, support the coming war and among those who, on balance, oppose it are a great many who hold their views in fear and trembling, haunted by the suspicion that the other side might be right after all. . . . The divisions are profound, and the most agonizing are not between people but within them." Later in the piece he observed that the Bush administration had "undermined the power of the convincing reasons for confronting Saddam (such as his consistent failure to disclose and dispose of his weapons of mass destruction) by mixing them with unconvincing ones (such as his alleged cooperation with Al Qaeda)." Hertzberg was ultimately opposed to the war--51 percent against it, as he said--while David Remnick was 51 percent in favor of it. "Our views were fairly close," Hertzberg recalled. "It just so happened that the line--yes or no--fell between our views." When it turned out that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq--and that the claims that such weapons existed were the result of either faulty U.S. intelligence, deliberate deceit on behalf of the Bush administration, or both--Remnick, Hertzberg said, was the angrier of the two, because he felt he had been misled. 

I find a lot of this a bit surprising, especially learning that Hertzberg -- who is known as a liberal's liberal -- was so close to the pro-war position.

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