Goldberg vs. Greenwald

Corporal Jeffery Goldberg is pissed.

See, on his Salon blog, Glenn Greenwald wrote a scathing critique of Goldberg through the lens of the Dave Weigel-Washington Post affair. The post, on how Goldberg’s rush to judge Weigel is emblematic of flaws throughout his writing, got a lot of coverage (as catalogued by Mondoweiss).

So Goldberg took to his Atlantic blog defending his reporting by citing his most notorious achievement: the Iraq War.

While Greenwald makes many excellent points about peculiar brand of journalism practiced by Goldberg (the Mideast reporter who, despite being an IDF veteran, decries everyone else as “partisans”), he does return to the Iraq War. Curiously, Goldberg, recounting a recent e-mail exchange with an Iraqi pol, runs through justifications for the 2003 invasion — though he insistently refers to it as his “early support for the Iraq war” [my emphasis]. He extends an invite from his e-mail buddy, Iraqi Kurdistan PM Barham Salih, to visit and talk to everyone in Iraq who supported the U.S. invasion:

If [Greenwald] were to meet with representatives of the Kurds — who make up 20 percent of the population of Iraq and who were the most oppressed group in Iraq during the period of Saddam’s rule (experiencing not only a genocide but widespread chemical gassing) — I think it might be possible for him to understand why some people — even some Iraqis — supported the overthrow of Saddam. […] I could also arrange a visit to Najaf or the equivalent, where Greenwald could meet with representatives of the Shi’a, who also took it on the chin from Saddam.

Yes, Corporal Goldberg, Glenn Greenwald could very well travel to Iraq with you and meet all types of people there who supported the war. But there are at least 600,000 Iraqis who, I imagine, are not too thrilled about the way it all turned out and with whom Greenwald will never get a meeting.

One could also dredge up some Iranians — from within and without Iran and, yes, of all political stripes, classes, ethnic groups, and religious affiliations — who might support a U.S. invasion of the Islamic Republic. Does that mean that Goldberg is also ready to lend “early support” to that war?

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. I felt for the Kurds and the Shia when Bush I abandoned them in 1990, but that’s not the issue here. Goldberg is telling us that 4,000-plus American deaths, several thousand maimings, and over $1 trillion wasted were acceptable costs for the removal of Saddam. That’s crazy. Saddam was a monster, true. But he was no threat to the American people, or at least not a threat of such magnitude as to require our going to war. We should fight wars for our interests, not those of foreigners, among whom I include Mr. Goldberg, despite his American birth.

  2. I don’t agree with Jon Harrison. It was the US in the first place who brought Saddam to power in Iraq, so it is their responsibility to oust him from power.

  3. Abe, that always was the most cogent argument for the war in my opinion. Yet, they never, EVER lit upon that one!

    It was (to me) such an obviously sophistic case for war they were making; what shocks me still was the way the media marched lock-step behind the war mongers. Earnest voices were marginalized–the Weapons inspectors, Blix and Baradei, Scott Ritter.

    There were enough questions that an earnest person would have addressed them. The way the admin. dodged them showed their deceit. It was also uncanny the way Bush himself never lied; though he mislead mightily.

    I don’t know if anyone else heard it, but I heard the weapons inspectors’ rebuttal to Powell’s testimony, which eviscerated his every claim.

  4. Goldberg is proud of the Iraq War! But what is its legacy besides a few $Trillion of debt?

    Goldberg can cry his little crocodile tears about the plight of the Kurds, which was genuinely bad, while ignoring the plight of the Palestinians, which is worse. Applying Goldberg’s logic, the US should have a policy of regime change in Israel.

    In the end, Goldberg’s championing the Kurds mattered not one iota, because saving the Kurds was never one of the administration’s major, stated reasons for invading. WMDs were one pretense. Freedom, democracy and human rights were another. But the Kurds were used only for PR purposes, to garner popular support using the evocative, “Saddam gassed his own people.” And Goldberg was instrumental in demonizing Saddam for whatever unknown purpose the Bushies had in mind when they invaded.

  5. To say that the U.S. “brought Saddam to power” . . . well, it’s a little more complicated than that. But in any case, I don’t know of any law of God or man that says we have to pay for our mistakes to the extent we have paid in Iraq. Or does karma explain the whole business?

    By the way, is Mr. Gharib stating in this piece that 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the 2003 invasion? The 600,000 figure is totally unsupported by facts. Documented Iraqi civilian deaths amount to about 100,000. Granted, many civilian deaths in Iraq go unreported. One perhaps would be justified in doubling the figure to 200,000. A horrible, sickening total to be sure. But throwing around figures like 600,000 is straying very far from the known facts.

Comments are closed.