Rather than give serious thought to peace feelers that have come from members of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s inner circle, including his son Saif, the Times’ editors – like other key figures in the U.S. mainstream news media – see violent regime change as the only acceptable outcome for Libya.

Thus, the Friday editorial urging the use of the A-10s and AC-130s to attack Gaddafi’s urban strongholds and mow down his loyalist forces.

“Unlike the highflying supersonic French and British jets now carrying the main burden of the air war, these American planes can fly slow enough and low enough to let them see and target Colonel Qaddafi’s weapons without unduly endangering nearby populations,” the Times editors wrote.

“European jet fighters can certainly destroy military targets on desert roads and sparsely populated areas. But no other country has aircraft comparable to America’s A-10, which is known as the Warthog, designed to attack tanks and other armored vehicles, or to the AC-130 ground-attack gunship, which is ideally suited for carefully sorting out targets in populated areas.

“In a war where rebel ground forces are struggling to train and organize themselves, and foreign ground forces are out of the question, these specialized American planes provide a unique and needed asset. Mr. Obama should make them available to NATO commanders now.”

The Times’ belligerent rhetoric about Libya and its one-sided coverage of the conflict recall the behavior of the Times, the Washington Post and other leading U.S. news outlets during the run-up to war with Iraq in 2002-03, except then they were cheering on President George W. Bush whereas now they are hectoring President Obama to do more.

Last month, as the crisis in Libya was heating up, the Times and the Post criticized Obama for not intervening in the conflict sooner although he acted immediately after the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution permitting use of military force to protect Libyan civilians.

The tough-guy posture of the Times’ and Post’s editors was that Obama should have behaved more like Bush in ignoring the niceties of international law and just take out the “bad guy,” in this case Libya’s Gaddafi rather than Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Warriors of the Mainstream Media.”]

The neoconning of the New York Times may lag slightly behind the pace at the Post, but the phenomenon seems to gaining momentum under editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal and executive editor Bill Keller.

In typical neocon fashion, there was virtually no accountability for any of the pro-war editors when they fell for U.S. government war propaganda before the Iraq War, a gullibility that contributed to the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people and the expenditure of some $1 trillion.

Keller, for instance, openly sided with Bush’s plans to invade Iraq, swallowed all the pro-war lies, even boasted about the influential journalists on the war bandwagon with him, and – after the false WMD claims and other lies were exposed – still was appointed to the newspaper’s top editorial job.

Having experienced no adverse consequences for his behavior regarding Iraq – indeed having been richly rewarded for it – Keller has continued on as a neocon advocate for new U.S. confrontations with Iran and now Libya, letting his biases spill into the news columns. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Through the US Media's Lens Darkly."]

In such a macho U.S. media environment, it seems that trying to understand an adversary’s point of view, objectively evaluating facts or – god forbid – countenancing peace talks are for sissies.

Instead, it’s much easier – and safer, career-wise – to write bellicose editorials demanding that young Americans at the controls of a “Warthog” attack aircraft unleash the plane’s fearsome firepower and slaughter some young Libyans on a city street below.

[For more on these topics, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, now available in a two-book set for the discount price of only $19. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there.

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