Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Friday, October 28, 2016

Ten Years On, Iraq War Skeptics Have A Right To Say ‘I Told You So’

Ten Years On, Iraq War Skeptics Have A Right To Say ‘I Told You So’

Possibly you remember “Shock and Awe.” No, that’s not the title of a Rolling Stones concert tour, but of the United States’ bombs-over-Baghdad campaign that began exactly 10 years ago. American soldiers went pounding into Iraq accompanied by scores of “embedded” journalists seemingly eager to prove their patriotism and courage.

A skeptic couldn’t help but be reminded of spectators who rode from Washington in horse-drawn carriages to witness the battle of Bull Run in July of 1861. They too expected a short, decisive conflict. Even on NPR, invading Iraq was treated like the world’s largest Boy Scout Jamboree, instead of what it turned into: arguably the worst military and foreign policy blunder in U.S. history.

Skepticism, however, was in short supply. Spooked by 9/11 and intimidated by the intellectual bullies of the Bush administration, American journalists largely abandoned that professional virtue in favor of propaganda and groupthink.

Among scores of examples, the one that’s stuck in my craw was allegedly liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. Reacting to Gen. Colin Powell’s anti-Saddam speech to the United Nations General Assembly—since repudiated by its author—Cohen wrote that “Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool—or possibly a Frenchman—could conclude otherwise.”

“War fever, catch it,” this fool wrote.

I added that to anybody capable of remembering past intelligence hoaxes, it wasn’t clear that Powell’s presentation answered any of the objections put forward by doubters like George H.W. Bush’s national security advisor, Gen. Brent Scowcroft.

“To any skeptic with a computer modem, moreover, it became quite clear why Powell’s speech failed to convert many at the UN,” my Feb. 5, 2003 column continued.

“Key parts of [his] presentation were dubious on their face. That alleged al Qaeda base in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq? If it’s what Powell says, why hasn’t it been bombed to smithereens? British and U.S. jets have been conducting sorties in the no-fly zone for months. Because it’s a dusty outpost not worth bombing, reporters for The Observer who visited the place quickly saw.

“The mobile bio-war death labs? Please. Even if [UN inspector] Hans Blix hadn’t told The Guardian that U.S. tips had guided inspectors to mobile food inspection facilities, anybody who’s dodged herds of camels, goats and sheep and maniacal drivers on bumpy Middle Eastern highways had to laugh. Bio-war experts told Newsweek the idea was preposterous. ‘U.S. intelligence,’ it reported ‘after years of looking for them, has never found even one.’

“Then there was the embarrassing fact that key elements of a British intelligence document cited by Powell turned out to have been plagiarized from magazine articles and a California grad student’s M.A. thesis based upon 12-year-old evidence.”

I could go on. In fact, I did.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • nobsartist

    I have been against the INVASION since it started.

    We have war criminals in our government.

    mccain is one of them.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Hindsight still has 20-20 vision. I was in favor of the invasion because I believed Colin Powell and the “intelligence” reports. That’s one reason why I detest Bush, Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, Feith, AIPAC, Israeli intelligence, et al so strongly: they misled us and I allowed myself to be taken in.

      I should have known better than to trust any politician.

      • HistoRet

        In 2000 you may recall that Dick Cheney, asked to chair a committee to search for a VP nominee for GW Bush, nominated himself. To encourage and facilitate his willingness to run, Halliburton Inc gave him a ‘golden parachute’ variously reported at $20,000,000 – $50.000,000. It looks like Halliburton was the only clear winner in the Iraq War. Does anyone REALLY wonder why?

      • you and me both. Powell convinced me too, because i respected him. believed he had integrity. no more.

      • charleo1

        I’ll sign the same mea-culpa. But at least, we’re men enough to admit
        we were taken in, and proven wrong by the facts revealed in hindsight.
        That’s more than Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfield, Wolfiwitz, and most
        of the political Right, has the integrity to own up to. As far as trusting
        politicians. There is by the nature of granting power by our vote, the
        unavoidable element of trust. If the person chosen by the processes
        of our Constitution, to occupy the office of President, tells us, for our
        safety, and the security of the Country, he must act. In the absence of
        any credible evidence, or information to the contrary, we must
        trust. It will be my opinion to my last breath, George W. Bush, broke
        that faith with the American people. By intentionally constructing an
        imperative for war, he knew to be false. He also betrayed our allies,
        our troops, his political Party, his Country’s standing in the eyes of
        the world. And hurt our capacity as a Country, to credibly place the
        military option on the table, as we attempt to deal with a true WMD
        threat, with respect to Iran. Ironic, that the Party who’s foreign policy
        motto is peace through strength, have weakened us, and strengthened our adversaries in one disastrous act.

  • juju4

    I understood why we went into the armpit of the planet, Afghanistan, although I figured that would end as it did. I could see absolutely no reason to invade Iraq, and still feel that it was an opportunity for Bush to avenge his Daddy and for Cheney to profit. Hussein was a typical despot, full of bluster and machismo, and our “intelligence” idiots took every bit of puffery he spoke as Gospel truth. Idiots. Either go to war and just kill every damn thing, or don’t. These “police” actions we have engaged in in the last 60 years just get thousands of Americans killed and accomplish little other than draining our coffers and increasing world disdain for us. You cannot surgically find just the bad guys and blow them up. First rule of warfare is that innocent people die. Let’s stop letting it be our young men and women.

  • The only wars I support are those fought in self-defense or when heinous crimes against humanity are being carried out. The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or overt threats against the United States, Israel or Europe. The secular government of Saddam Hussein was, in fact, a target of Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization composed and financed, mostly, of Saudi Arabian Wahhabists.
    The invasion of Afghanistan was an overreaction to 9/11, and part of a geopolitical puzzle. We should have destroyed the Al Qaeda training camps and used spies and informants to determine the whereabouts of AQ terrorists – and Osama bin Laden – hiding in that country. We did not have to emulate the Soviet Union to achieve those goals.
    The invasion of Iraq was, by all measures, a crime against humanity. It was justified using false claims, for the express purpose of removing a former ally who had gotten to big for his britches from office and then execute him based on questionable charges by a kangaroo court. The most important reason for the invasion was the need to transform the pathetic president whose ambivalence contributed to 9/11/01 – and the subsequent death of 3,000 people on U.S. soil – into a war hero to preclude impeachment calls and ensure his re-election. It was also used to cancel contracts that Saddam had signed with Russian and French companies and give them to U.S. and British companies. Moreover, it was used as an opportunity to bring to fruition one of the largest redistributions of wealth from the public to the private sector by giving bogus sole source contracts to Friends of Bush. The invasion of Iraq, and its aftermath, is one of the most embarrassing blemishes in the history of the United States. And yet, those responsible for it remain free and continue to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities our country has to offer. Shame on all of us for allowing it.

  • Mark Forsyth

    Ten years on and still not one person who is responsible behind bars.No statute of limitations regarding crimes against humanity are there?

    • CPAinNewYork

      Only those on the losing side get prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

      • Mark Forsyth

        Pity,I think there are a lot of Americans having trouble seeing themselves as victors and worse yet specific individuals who have no trouble at all.

  • TZToronto

    Anyone not having a pre-determined course of action vis-a-vis Iraq would have been able to predict what would happen. All one has to do is look at the former Yugoslavia. When Tito, the man who held the country together by force, died, all of the various ethnic factions came out of the woodwork to try to exterminate their age-old enemies and to avenge injustices of the distant and not-so-distant past. Even a cursory look at Iraq would have produced a similar analysis. The country was run by Sunnis, about 10% of the population, the remainder being mostly Kurds and Shiites. The oppressive hand of Saddam Hussein kept the country under control. Of course, Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant, but there was dependable electricity as well as running water, sanitation facilities, museums, shops, and a fairly prosperous population. Once Saddam and his Sunni underlings were gone, it was inevitable that sectarian strife would emerge. The result, which any thinking person without an Invade-Iraq agenda could have predicted, is a country that has been destroyed by the hand of the USA. Really, does anyone think that the Bush administration could not foresee the outcome of their actions? They may have been greedy schemers, but I don’t think they were stupid. Any intelligence analyst would have been able to write up a report on what the likely outcome of removing Saddam Hussein would have been, and I’m sure some did. So the only reasonable conclusion is that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, et al., knew exactly what would happen and didn’t care–as long as they got their hands on the oil and, in the process, re-distribute the U.S. Treasury into the hands of Bush’s friends.

    • plc97477

      I firmly believe they were stupid but you could be right

  • tobyspeeks

    And there are still many people who believe Saddam masterminded 9/11. My dumber than a box of rocks co-worker for example.

  • sleeprn01

    I think that even today we must be wary of Ashcroft and Cheney as they try to re-write history. Repeating the same lies over and over again; the we went to war to save the Iraqi’s from the horrible dictator Saddam Hussein who we befriended during the ’80s. My fear is that Americans will soon forget the horrible mistake that was the Iraq war and the way the Bush administration lied to everyone, maybe even themselves. It already seems that the GOP wants to deny the events that occurred from 2003 to 2011, eager to blame President Obama for the current debt, and not the 3 trillion dollars spent on making Halliburton and the arms manufacturers wealthier.. All the while killing 4,500 young Americans, severely wounding over 35,000 Americans, and killing over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. To forget this horrible period in our history and to allow those who perpetrated these misdeeds to re-write history would mean that all of these people truly did pay the ultimate sacrifice for absolutely nothing.

  • Belligerent Bush& Blair lied and led the war into Iraq hoping to leave their mark on history.
    Their fiasco there has left a sinister stigma on both for the next century.