April 13, 2003
By TED BYFIELD -- Edmonton Sun
It's surely a good idea from time to time to look at recent events and ask yourself, "What if?" For instance, what if the Americans had listened to the left, heeded all the protesters, all the enlightened university professors and all the people who told them how awful it would be if they were to actually go to war with Iraq?
In other words what if they had a Jean Chretien for president instead of a George W. Bush? Where would we all be now?
We would be taking "further diplomatic initiatives," of course. Saddam Hussein would be paying lip service to them while building his arsenal of chemical weapons preparatory for an attack on Israel and gradually assuming the leadership of the militant worldwide Islamic terrorist movement.
And every time the Americans failed to move against him, as they had ever since the Gulf War, he would have gained that much more technological strength, that much more credibility with whole Muslim world, so that in the end the West would have had to fight him anyway and probably a great many other countries besides.
But none of this has happened and for one elementary reason. The Americans did not listen to the left. They knew the left didn't have the faintest clue what was going on. President Bush - the "moron," remember? - turned out to be absolutely right and they turned out to be absolutely wrong. The real "moron" apparently lives in Ottawa, not Washington.
They were wrong about the tens of thousand of civilian casualties they predicted. They were wrong about the street-by-street, house-by-house battle that would demolish the city of Baghdad and send thousands of Americans home in body bags. They were wrong about Syria and Iran coming to the aid of Iraq. They were wrong, so it appears, about everything.
And where now, you have to wonder, are all those "informed people" who prophesied all these dire things? Last month, you couldn't turn on the CBC without hearing them talk. Now they don't seem to be saying anything. Surely they must have some explanation for what has occurred.
And does this not, in the interests of honest journalism, impose upon the CBC the clear obligation to go back to the scores of people it interviewed before, the people who turned out to be so ill-informed and to whom the CBC lent such unreserved and undeserved credibility, and interview them all again?
Ought it not ask them how do they account for this? Where did they go wrong? What did they not foresee and why did they not foresee it? Has the outcome to date changed their opinion of Dubya at all, and if not why not? Would these not be very good questions? Is not some kind of an explanation due?
At the same time the CBC management might ask their editors how they were so thoroughly duped by these people. The loss of their credibility is also the loss of the CBC's credibility.
But the same thing has been going on for years, of course. Remember all the old issues? The left said not to station cruise missiles in Germany and not to get into Star Wars because there could be no end to this military buildup. The CBC gave full vent at every opportunity to all these views. But the Americans ignored them, persisted in their "militarism" and the entire Soviet system came crashing down. But what if we had heeded the left? Obviously, we'd still be in the midst of the Cold War, or worse.
Could not this misperception of political reality and consequent misdirection of public opinion perhaps account for the audience loss the CBC has been steadily experiencing for decades?
I remember when you could actually believe what it said, when being Canadian meant being something more than merely anti-American. But those days are long gone.
Even so, surely there should be some accountability here. Why can't someone, somewhere in the CBC, get all of these Ottawa and Toronto editorial geniuses together in one room, go over their coverage of the war and the run-up to it, and then ask: "Listen, you guys. Why did you make us look so stupid?"
Maybe they could record their answers.
I guarantee it would make a great television show.