Neocon WSJ editor sits down with France’s Iran critic

Gerard Baker gets a byline

Gerard Baker is an Iraq War-cheerleading neocon, goofball Obama ridiculer, and author of some of the wrongest commentary of the financial crisis.

He’s also editor of The Wall Street Journal.

And earlier this week he had a byline in the paper. It’s always worth a second look when a paper’s editor gets a byline and so it is with Baker’s. Here’s the headline:

France Voices Doubt on Iran Nuclear Deal

Foreign Minister Fabius Concerned Tehran Won’t Drop Ability to Build a Bomb

Perhaps a sit-down with France’s foreign minister is inherently newsworthy—though I’m guessing Baker wouldn’t have thought so ten years ago—but “France Voices Doubt on Iran Nuclear Deal” is not exactly news. France voiced its doubt on the Iran deal nearly two months ago.

What it is seems instead to be a chance for Baker to reaffirm previously expressed editorial views.

It’s a bit odd that a French politician upending American foreign policy would get such a soft treatment—with zero context about possible ulterior French motives—particularly from someone like Baker, who was much snider about French intransigence in the run-up to the Iraq War. He wrote in the Financial Times about the “spectacle of France and Russia dutifully jumping through hoops Saddam Hussein has set for them” and tossed off digs like these:

If it had been left to the French in 1991, Kuwait would still be the 19th province of Iraq with, presumably, Saudi Arabia as the 20th. Since then, French policy has consistently undercut UN efforts to enforce its mandate. And we have other powerful examples of French leadership, which organisations such as Greenpeace could tell us about.

No freedom fries there, at least, though his kicker is worth revisiting:

Ask the Iraqis what they think of US imperialism. No, better, wait a few months when you will get a clearer, less constrained answer to that question.

Clearer, less constrained, indeed.

It’s also helpful to revisit Gerard Baker, Times of London columnist, writing on Iran and nukes in 2006:

The unimaginable but ultimately inescapable truth is that we are going to have to get ready for war with Iran…

If Iran gets safely and unmolested to nuclear status, it will be a threshold moment in the history of the world, up there with the Bolshevik Revolution and the coming of Hitler. What the country itself may do with those weapons, given its pledges, its recent history and its strategic objectives with regard to the US, Israel and their allies, is well known. We can reasonably assume that the refusal of the current Iranian leadership to accept the Holocaust as historical fact is simply a recognition of their own plans to redefine the notion as soon as they get a chance (“Now this is what we call a holocaust”).

“Up there with the Bolshevik Revolution and the coming of Hitler,” huh?

Now this page-nine interview with Laurent Fabius is hardly a huge deal. But it’s a reminder of the once (and likely still) feverish mindset of the editor of the powerful Wall Street Journal on a critical national-security issue.

Needless to say, keep a close watch on the Journal’s Iran coverage.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,