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Time rewrites history?

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A while ago, George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft wrote a Time magazine piece that included these thoughts:

    While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the
    U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the
    Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power
    at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground
    war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about
    not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep,"
    and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending
    him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama,
    which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad
    and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed,
    the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well.
    Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously
    trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war
    world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the
    U.N.’s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international
    response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion
    route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly
    hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different–and perhaps
    barren–outcome.

As you can read about here, this obviously embarrassing bit of writing has DISAPPEARED from the Time database, as if this article, and only this article, were intentionally removed.

The apparent bit of history re-writing has caused a stir in the academic community, which naturally has a different sort of view on how one is supposed to maintain an archive.

From an email being furiously forwarded among librarians and academics:

    From: —-
    Sent: Monday, April 28, 2003 6:55 PM
    To: Friends
    Subject: Fwd: What happened to the Bush Scowcroft article?

    Friends,

    While superficially only a matter of academic interest, a troubling
    precedent seems to have been set by Time magazine’s deletion from its
    own archives of a 1998 article written by the first President Bush
    and General Brent Scowcroft entitled “Why we didn’t remove Saddam.”
    The text of that article includes the passage:

    “We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule
    Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs
    deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under
    those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying
    to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world.
    Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.’s
    mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response
    to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route,
    the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly
    hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different–and
    perhaps barren–outcome.”

    The article had, at least until sometime last year, been available
    from the Time magazine archives at

    link

    but now a search of the archives, which includes links to articles
    appearing over a decade before this one, reveals no trace of it.
    Furthermore the Table of Contents for that issue at

    link

    has now purged of any reference to the article.

    As you are no doubt aware, Time magazine is owned by one of the
    remaining few media conglomerates, AOL Time Warner, which is beholden
    to the current administration and the FCC under the direction of
    Michael Powell–son of Colin–for loosening the laws that govern
    media consolidation.

    I have contacted Time magazine twice over the last month asking for
    an explanation for the disappearance and pointing out that it wasn’t
    as if the article couldn’t be found in its entirety elsewhere on
    line. They have not replied to either message.

    Until a week or two ago, the article could be found at

    link

    but now that URL no returns “Not Found” as well.

    It still can be found in the Google cache at

    link

    but that will disappear when the Google bot discovers that the
    original has been removed.

    The original article itself can, at this writing, still be found at
    the Internet Archive

    http://www.archive.org/

    by pasting the original URL (the first one above) into the “Wayback
    Machine” search engine and press the “Take me Back” button.  At the
    request of Time magazine, however, the Internet Archive will remove
    its copies as well.

    More information can always be obtained by performing a google search

    link

    The story of this article’s disappearance has been getting some
    attention among the bloggers and I assume that I am not alone in
    having written messages to Time asking about the disappearance of
    this article and having failed to receive any response.

    I would urge you to help turn up the heat by writing a quick note of
    your own to

       daily@timeinc.net

    asking why the article

        Why We Didn’t Remove Saddam
        By GEORGE BUSH AND BRENT SCOWCROFT
        Time Magazine, 2 March 1998

    has been removed from its archives.  I would suggest *not* mentioning
    the places that the text of that article can still be found.

    Thanks,
    —–

So what’s the deal?

Anyone else have info on this?

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About Brian Flemming

  • Thomas

    O’Brien was looking down at him speculatively. More than ever he had the air of a teacher taking pains with a wayward but promising child.

    ‘There is a Party slogan dealing with the control of the past,’ he said. ‘Repeat it, if you please.’

    ‘”Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,”‘ repeated Winston obediently.

    ‘”Who controls the present controls the past,”‘ said O’Brien, nodding his head with slow approval.

    George Orwell
    1984

  • http://www.shortstrangetrip.org Joe

    I’ve got hard copy. One wrong move and I’ll use the white out. I swear to god, I will!

  • SlackMFer

    ok, brian. first thing’s first, i strongly doubt if george w asked time to remove this piece for many reasons. 1)why would he care? times change, you should know that. just because something was true in 1991 doesn’t make it true today.
    2)even if times haven’t changed, the most you’ve got with this is that george w and his father disagree.. WOW!!!!!! stop the fucking presses.

  • Wendy Dunst

    ok, brian. first thing’s first, i strongly doubt if george w asked time to remove this piece for many reasons.

    I must have missed the part where Brian said that Dubya asked Time to remove the article.

    2)even if times haven’t changed, the most you’ve got with this is that george w and his father disagree.. WOW!!!!!! stop the fucking presses.

    No, don’t stop the presses. As IS THE POINT of this article, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dubya and Daddy (may) disagree. The point is that Time is attempting to tamper with the past — the official record. Is that right? Or is it a dangerous precedent?

    Note that Time did not simply take the issue offline, it actually tampered with its table of contents. Is that right? Morally?

  • mark

    Brian,
    You seem very concerned about this article being deleted from the internet access, and frankly, I find it a bit wierd as well. But, you are saying it is some type of conspiracy by the Times and Bush and the “sky is falling”. So here’s a suggestion; get off your butt and go to your local library and ask to see a copy of the issue. Look into the libarian’s eyes, if she/he looks shifty, then you know it is a conspiracy!
    Seriously though, think about it, internet articles have a finite lifetime, only hard copies in the library last. So get away from your computer, and maybe go to a REAL library!
    With respect, I suggest you read a book for a while and get off the treadmill of Blogcritic, at least for a week or so. Smell the roses while they are in bloom.
    Have fun,
    Mark

  • Doctor Slack

    “you are saying it is some type of conspiracy by the Times and Bush and the “sky is falling”.”

    Mark, you have now said that it’s okay for Dubya to burn books, rewrite history and shoot scholars on sight, and that you support those actions.

    No, wait, you haven’t said that. Sorry, just wanted to join the little game of “build the strawman” you were playing with Brian’s post, which of course nowhere alleges a “conspiracy” or that “the sky is falling.”

    What Brian has said is that the TIMES has taken a troubling step by purging its online archive. Indeed, on some level, you appear to agree with him. So, why bob and weave and argue against strawmen? You’re damaging your credibility, not his.

    The online archive is, I would add, where the largest numbers of people are likeliest to access an article that has direct bearing on current events. It therefore seems vapid to dismiss its importance.

  • http://www.well.com/~srhodes Steve Rhodes

    You can read the piece in the Iraq War Reader.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thank Rand for The Memory Hole. Yahweh and Allah bless them.

    For whatever reason, it’s clearly proven that SOMEBODY made a conscious effort to alter the historic record. Yes, internet archives may be taken down, but they just took this one item, not the whole issue. Editing the table of contents is particularly damning.

    This is NONSENSE, and should be condemned by all honest intellectuals, whether you agree with Bush the senior, Bush the junior, or hate them both.

    The editors at the magazine are the ones who are responsible for their own website. They should have this little scandal blown up in their faces.