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Goldberg’s Case for War

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James Fallows argues that Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic about the prospect of Israel attacking Iran is not actually an endorsement for such an attack, but that “the article hews to a strictly reportorial perspective: this is what the Israeli officials seem to think, this is how American officials might react, this is how Israeli officials might anticipate how the Americans might react, these are the Israeli voices of caution, here are the potential readings and mis-readings on each side.”

Fallows adds that those who believe Goldberg is advocating for war are mainly responding to his byline rather than his argument. “If this new article had appeared under the byline of someone known to have opposed the previous war [against Iraq] and to be skeptical about the next one, I think the same material could be read in the opposite way — as a cautionary revelation of what the Netanyahu government might be preparing to do.”

To which I’d reply, if the article had been written by anyone else I might agree. But Goldberg’s past work as a dishonest advocate for the Iraq War and his long service in support of the Israeli military (literally for a time, when he served in the Israeli Defense Force) makes Fallows’s argument harder to accept. Goldberg has never seen an Israeli military action that he didn’t approve of. Can anyone honestly believe that Goldberg wouldn’t support an Israeli attack on Iran in the event that it came to pass?

Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic is more balanced than his Iraq war “reporting,” which ranked with British propaganda from World War I about German soldiers bayoneting babies, but it’s awfully sympathetic to the Israeli point of view. If Israel does attack Iran, its supporters will surely point to Goldberg’s piece as evidence for why such a strike was necessary, just as President Bush cited Goldberg’s work in making the case for war in Iraq.

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