I hate looking back. Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began.
The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness. The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months. Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it. The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage. American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told.
First, the leaders of the Bush administration were intent on invading from the beginning of their time in the White House. When the 9-11 attacks occurred, Bush cabinet members immediately discussed how that tragedy could be used to justify an invasion.
Bush himself asked me to try to pin the blame for 9-11 on Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney propagated a myth that a hijacker had met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague, even though we knew at the time Cheney said it that the report was false and that the hijacker was in Virginia at the time of the alleged meeting.
Fourth, those who profited most were Iran and al Qaeda. For years, Iran’s aggression in the region was held in check by the Baghdad government. Since the U.S. invasion, Iran has gained greater influence throughout the area, undermining the U.S. and its allies.
Because we were busy in Iraq, U.S. military and intelligence assets were not available to end quickly the al Qaeda and Taliban presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, the people who actually attacked us on Sept. 11 were free for years to regain their strength.
The USA Today Editorial Board:
The administration’s primary justification — that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction — was at best a massive miscalculation. None was ever found. The secondary reason — that Saddam had connections to Osama bin Laden — was simply a lie, supported by neither evidence nor logic but believed by half the public.
Amplify these assertions with the White House sound blaster, and the message received by Americans still edgy after the 9/11 attacks was that the United States faced an imminent threat that only war could avert.
A docile Congress overwhelmingly authorized an invasion. And so the Bush administration’s campaign of “shock and awe” began, only to disintegrate swiftly into civil war, followed eventually by an unsteady peace and, ultimately, U.S. withdrawal.
The war in Iraq was a mistake that beggars the imagination. It was sold with lies and half truths and quarter truths by an immoral administration, pedalled by a pliant and lazy media and authorized by a fearful Congress.
I think it’s important to emphasize that while average Americans were horrified, shocked and grieving, I don’t think we were terrified or terrorized. Our leaders were terrified and terrorized. The collective bed-wetting fear of America’s elite class is a shameful commentary on their weak character. Members of Congress were paralyzed with fear, blinded with fear that left them incapable of thinking clearly or of making decisions. Bush and his administration were terrified too, that’s why they figured a war was the answer. They had to scare Americans into favoring the war, hence their “mushroom cloud” lies.
Our leaders behaved shamefully. They were fearful, jingoistic cowards.
Iraq wasn’t worth it. With all due sympathies to the Iraqi people, their supposed liberation wasn’t worth a single drop of American blood nor the loss of one American life. That sucks for them, but I have a hard time looking at their nation after a decade of chaos and death and believing they’re better off than they would have been otherwise.
Joseph Palermo, at Huffpo:
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) surveyed the nightly news during the first three weeks of the invasion in March and April 2003 and found that on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, and Fox, pro-war U.S. sources outnumbered antiwar sources by 25 to one. With a 25 to 1 ratio of warmongers versus critical voices on the nation’s dominant news shows it’s no surprise that people came to believe the Bush administration’s hype about WMDs. These news sources also assiduously avoided giving much coverage to the massive anti-war demonstrations that took place across the United States in the lead up to the war, including the 15 million strong global rally for peace on February 15, 2003.
We also hear the “argument” that Saddam Hussein was such a bad guy we had no choice but to invade and occupy Iraq, kill over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and send over 4,400 American soldiers to their deaths. But at the time the world had plenty of human rights violators, including many, like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, who were for decades considered faithful U.S. allies. The warmongers ten years ago brushed off the observation that the United States armed and aided Saddam Hussein’s government throughout the 1980s in his war of aggression against Iran, which was the period when he committed some his most heinous acts. (Remember the 1983 footage of Donald Rumsfeld warmly shaking the tyrant’s hand?) To this day, on occasion, we hear Condi Rice or Ari Fleischer or some other defender citing the litany of villainy that Saddam Hussein was responsible for as an ex post facto justification for Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq.
Ten years ago our “leaders” in the government, the corporate media, and the “national security” establishment assured us that invading Iraq was in our national interest. They promised us everything from “democracy” breaking out in the Middle East, to progress in ending the Israel-Palestine conflict, to the reduction of “terrorism” and having access to cheap oil. The American people, we were told, if they bore this burden would be rewarded in the long run with a safer world. Most of all they assured us that Iraq wouldn’t become another Vietnam. An all-volunteer military force could meet the challenge, they promised, for relatively little cost in human lives and U.S. treasure.
But the whole thing was a very Big Lie.
And after throwing away so many lives and so much money we’re now being told (by many of the same people who sold us the Iraq War) that we have no resources left to ensure that our children get a good education, or that our elderly can retire in dignity, or our poor people are given hope for a better future.
A mournful story.
In the lead up to the invasion, I was at a family event and I made some comment along the lines of, “A war with Iraq will be a disaster. I hope it doesn’t happen.” A family member turned to me in shock and said, “Oh no. We can beat their army and free their country. We have to. We have to go get those turkeys before they come over here and get us.” (I swear to god, that’s exactly what my relative said.) I shook my head and replied, “I’m not saying we can’t beat their army. I’m saying what comes after is going to be a fiasco we’ll all wish never happened.”
Myrelative was furious with me. “Why don’t want us to be safe? We have to keep America safe!” As America finally withdrew from Iraq, this same relative, far from chastened, said, “Well I hope those Eye-Rain-Eeeans have learned what will happen if they mess with us.” I nearly wept.
The constant drumbeat of terror in the news back then did the trick. It scared people into seeing dangers around every corner. Rather than shaking Americans out of our complacency and helping us see the world in new ways and engage the world differently, the events of the 2001 led to the disaster of 2003 because the so called very serious people were a bunch of pathetic crybabies who lacked any thing like morals, ethics, or strength of character. They magnified their own fears and wept for Big Daddy Bush and Big Daddy Cheney to take away all their fears and comfort them. And if the price wsa telling a few lies and going to war in Iraq, so be it.
I feel mournful this morning. I look back on ten wasted years and think what could have been.
Fuck you George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and all the Neo-Cons and Donald Rumsfeld and all the mindless cheerleaders in the media and the rightwing blowhards who called everyone opposed to the war traitors and the cowards in Congress who voted for it Fuck you and horse you road in on. And all the everyday Joes and Janes out there who lapped it up gladly and who were sure it was the right thing to do and have never once acknolwedged you were lied to. You were wrong. You were astonishingly, horrifying wrong. There’s a special circle in Hell for all of you.