Fox News Radio 600 KCOL co-host Gail Fallen asserted on September 17 that Brookings Institution scholars Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack -- who have argued in favor of President Bush's "surge" strategy -- "for a long time had been on record as opposing our presence in Iraq." In fact, O'Hanlon and Pollack were influential proponents of the war before the 2003 invasion.
During the September 17 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!, co-host Gail Fallen claimed that Brookings Institution scholars Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack "for a long time had been on record as opposing our presence in Iraq." Fallen added that O'Hanlon and Pollack "actually spent some time over in Iraq and came back and were very surprised to report that, yes, the surge is working." In fact, while O'Hanlon and Pollack argued in favor of continuing the Bush administration's Iraq war escalation in a July 30 guest op-ed column in The New York Times, both men were influential proponents of the Iraq war before the 2003 invasion and O'Hanlon wrote a column in support of the so-called "surge," as Media Matters for America has noted.
As Colorado Media Matters pointed out, Fallen and co-host Keith Weinman on their August 24 show similarly allowed guest Jed Babbin, editor of the conservative newspaper Human Events, to describe O'Hanlon and Pollack as "outspoken opponents of the war" in Iraq who "sa[y] that things are going quite well over there right now."
From the September 17 broadcast of Fox News Radio 600 KCOL's Mornings with Keith and Gail!:
ERIC FRIED (Fort Collins for Iraq Withdrawal): Well, you know, in terms of progress, there was a poll that was done just last week by ABC, BBC, and Japanese TV, and 65 to 70 percent of Iraqis say the surge has in fact worsened, not improved, security. And I know the president and General [David] Petraeus say things have gotten better, but some more objective reports like the GAO [Government Accountability Office] and the most recent National Intelligence Estimate say that it really hasn't improved things, and some military benchmarks have been met, but most of the benchmarks, including the critical political ones, have simply not been met.
FALLEN: Well, the problem obviously now, and again we had talked with two reporters -- Kenneth Pollack and, I can't remember the other gentleman's name, from the Brookings Institution -- who for a long time had been on record as opposing our presence in Iraq and the way the war was unfolding, actually spent some time over in Iraq and came back and were very surprised to report that, yes, the surge is working. But we need to give it the time necessary in order to achieve its goals.
FRIED: Well, I'm not sure how you could say it's working. The main thing that has to happen, obviously, is a political reconciliation between the Shias and Sunnis.
As Media Matters has noted, while O'Hanlon has been critical of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war, he supported the invasion. He also wrote in a January 14 column appearing in The Washington Post that, while "[c]ritics rightly argue that it may well be too little, way too late" for a troop increase, "for a skeptical Congress and nation, it is still the right thing to try -- as long as we do not count on it succeeding and we start working on backup plans even as we grant Bush his request." O'Hanlon added: "However mediocre its prospects, each main element of the president's plan has some logic behind it." He further argued that "the president wants to move in the right direction on economic reconstruction" and that "President Bush is rightly telegraphing to Iraqi leaders that they must reach compromises with each other." O'Hanlon concluded that "for now, Congress should also give the president the money and support that he requests."
O'Hanlon also argued in support of the invasion in a February 5, 2003, Washington Times op-ed. He wrote: "Even those of us who have questioned the case for war over the last year, and who do not buy all of the Bush administration's arguments for invasion even today, need to face the fact that there soon will be no other plausible option."
Media Matters has further noted that Pollack authored a book advocating invading Iraq titled The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (Random House, 2002). Describing Pollack's book in a February 8, 2003, New York Times column (subscription required), Bill Keller -- now the Times' executive editor -- wrote: "Kenneth Pollack, the Clinton National Security Council expert whose argument for invading Iraq is surely the most influential book of this season, has provided intellectual cover for every liberal who finds himself inclining toward war but uneasy about Mr. Bush."