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The Iraq War: Who Got It Wrong

Memo Pad Politics

The Iraq War: Who Got It Wrong



“In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

The shock of 9/11 and the rapid appearance of success in ousting the Taliban presented George W. Bush with political power few U.S. presidents have enjoyed. Bush’s approval rating shot up to an astounding 90 percent in the aftermath of the largest-ever terror attack on Americans. Less than a year later, the Republican Party picked up eight House seats and control of the Senate — one of the few times in history the president’s party posted gains in a midterm election.

Lie by lie, the Bush administration fed the public’s paranoia and built its case for war.

The week before the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, Bush’s approval rating was at 58 percent. A week later it was at 71. It hovered well above 50 percent until Saddam Hussein was captured on December 13, 2003. Bush was re-elected in November, 2004 with approval at just about 50 percent, then his popularity then began a slow decline — hitting a nadir of 25 percent during the last few months before he left office in 2008.

The recognition that Iraq was a horrendous failure came slowly to the majority of Americans — despite the courageous opposition of many on the left, including hundreds of thousands of peace protesters. As it became clear the insurgency was not in fact in its “last throes,” complaints focused on the lack of armor and supplies for the solidiers. Republicans such as John McCain fixated on the tactics and the need for more ground forces. Eventually hawkish Democrats who supported the war began to turn, led by Congressman John Murtha, who on November 17, 2005 introduced a resolution that called for U.S. troops to be “redeployed at the earliest practicable date.”

But by then the human costs and blowback of the war, along with the neglect of Afghanistan, were obvious to everyone except diehard neoconservatives. The public’s reaction to the Bush administration’s mishandling of a doomed war played a major role in the Democratic Party’s takeover of Congress in 2006, led by antiwar leaders Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean and congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

We’ve given credit to some of those who opposed the war when it was unpopular to do so. Though those of us who lived through this sad chapter in American history know many of the names of those who led us into the Iraq War, it’s worth calling them out again.

Photo: Jim Gordon via Flickr


  1. Dominick Vila March 12, 2013

    I believe that we, as a nation, got it wrong. President George W. Bush would not have been able to engage in crusades against little to no involvement in the 9/11 tragedy had it not been by the fears, prejudice and ignorance of a plurality of Americans. The hatred that so many Muslims feel towards the United States is influenced by our presence in that part of the world, by our insistence on influencing and changing their way of life and traditions, and by our role in creating and supporting the Jewish State of Israel.
    The Fatwah issued by Osama bin Laden against the United States was influenced by those factors, which deservedly or not, are seen as a threat by people throughout the Islamic world.
    Our international credibility suffered when, instead of focusing on the root causes for the problem at hand, we engaged in crusades that served as a catalyst for those convinced that our motives were influenced by cultural, ideological, and economic imperatives. The immorality and immaturity of our reaction was further affected by our decision to leave Saudi Arabia, the homeland of most 9/11 terrorists, planners and financiers, off the hook in exchange for lucrative contracts, and invade two countries that had little or nothing to do with 9/11.
    Ultimately, George W. Bush benefitted from our prejudice and fears of Islam, intolerance of anything that does not conform with our preconceived ideas and values, and from a society with little interest or knowledge of foreign affairs.

    1. frida March 12, 2013

      Dominick, we as the nation didn’t get it wrong, it was entirely the leaders. After 9/11 whatever lies we were told, we were ready to accept it. Just imagine if you were once hit by the snake, if anyone comes and say there it is again run, you won’t standstill and wait.

      The leaders used that opportunity to fulfil what was in their mind before 9/11 hit.

      1. CPAinNewYork March 12, 2013

        The only thing that we are getting wrong is listening to scumbags like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ryan, etc.

        1. BDC_57 March 12, 2013

          Dick Cheney is evil.

    2. TheSkalawag929 March 12, 2013

      Yes we as a nation did get it wrong. We were gulible and allowed ourselves to be led down the garden path. We didn’t believe that our country’s leaders would lie us into a war. Again. Viet Nam comes to mind here but that’s a whole other can of worms.

      Let’s hope that we won’t be fooled again. Twice is enough.

      1. Fern Woodfork March 12, 2013

        If You Let Another GOP/Tea Party Back In The White House Yes There Will Be More Wars Cause That’s How They Roll!!! 🙁

        1. TheSkalawag929 March 12, 2013

          Then I guess it’s up to us not to let another on back in. Cheer up we can continue to win if we keep pulling together.;-)

      2. Florence Powell March 13, 2013

        I never believed from day one about Iraq. I held my breath thinking that surely the American people would not be hood winked by these zealots. I sat in my car one Sunday when the last debate was going on and nearly cried for what was about to happen. The same with the Viet Nam War, I never thought for one moment that it was a just war. In fact many a fight was held in my house, yelling and hollering, pro and con. There are some wars that needed to be fought, but most are a waste of human life and suffering. WW2 was right, I was a kid but I have always paid attention. I got to quit this, I’m tired.

        1. TheSkalawag929 March 13, 2013

          After 911 and the fear mongering by the republicans, faux noise and El Limpone I’m surprised they didn’t turn Iraq into glass.

    3. Mikey7a March 12, 2013

      There are very few times I disagree with you Mr. Vila, but this is one. After 9/11, I was all for us going after the scum that dared attack us on our home soil. That being said, I was never for attacking Iraq. I knew who, and where, these heinous events were thought of, and then acted upon. As for Israel, there is nothing wrong with the U.S. supporting an ally, unless said ally tries to thrust their way of life upon another. Sadly, I feel Israel is guilty of doing just that.

      1. Dominick Vila March 12, 2013

        There is no question that we were mislead by people more interesting in pursuing their narrow goals than trying to find the root causes for 9/11, acting on their findings, and acting like the mature leaders they were supposed to be. None of that happened.
        It is very true that we were all traumatized by 9/11, and that many of us wanted revenge, but a true leader is supposed to rise above those human feelings and act the way a leader is expected to do.
        Afghanistan did not attack us, and neither did the Taliban. The only thing they were guilty of was either allowing or being impotent to expel Al Qaeda terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, from their soil. Our initial attacks destroyed the AQ training camps in a matter of days, and Osama fled to undisclosed locations. There is a good chance we would have accomplished more using intelligence agencies to find OBL and his top lieutenants. Our policy of guilty by association, when we decided to remove members of the Taliban from power and replace them with puppets, resulted in a robust insurgency by people determined to defend their sovereignty, values and traditions. As an American and a Westerner, I am appalled by the acts carried our by the Taliban, but it is not up to us to determine who should rule in other countries, what values others should embrace, and which traditions they should preserve.
        Deservedly or not, the invasion of a Third World country elicited the same reaction, from the Afghan people and throughout the Islamic World, as the Soviet invasion did. The entire world reacted in horror to 9/11, and we enjoyed the support and sympathy or every civilized nation immediately after that tragedy. That support evaporated the moment we reacted, not because retaliation and the elimination of a real threat was warranted, but because of the way we did it. A more measured – and effective – response would have been accepted and supported by everyone. Indiscriminate violence, often without a sense of direction or a clear goal, was not.
        There is nothing wrong with helping an ally, as long as that help is not perpetual, even when that ally is very capable of protecting itself and sustaining a high standard of living without our help and, especially, when objectivity and a sense of fairness prevails. Unconditional support, regardless of how provocative and unfair Israel’s policies may be is not a good idea if our goal is to settle the chaos that has existed in the Middle East since 1948.

        1. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

          You are talking about Afghanistan here, though, not Iraq. Hussein didn’t have anything to do with the Taliban. In fact, he probably was trying to keep them out of his country as they would have been insurgents there as well. I personally think Bush found all this out in the end. After they found Hussein in his “hidey hole” I believe they got him to the U.S. and tried truth serum on him, and found out that he was not Taliban, that he had no WMDs, and that they also had no nuclear weapons in Iraq or that “yellow cake” stuff. After that, the whole Iraq war issue was hushed up and all of a sudden the press was (finally) reporting on the housing crisis.

          Sort of makes you think poorly of American news systems. It is too bad CNN is no longer doing much reporting, too.

    4. tobyspeeks March 12, 2013

      Maybe America as a whole, but as an individual I didn’t get anything wrong. Soon as the talk hit the airwaves my thoughts were GW was going to get even with Hussein for putting a hit out on his daddy. That may not be the real reason GW had in his tiny war mongering mind, but I surely knew the real reason wasn’t his public reason. I’ll also mention, when the talk first hit the airwaves for the first split second I thought the talking head made a gaffe, mistaking Iraq for Afghanistan.

      1. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

        My thought was that he was trying a personal vendetta on Hussein as soon as he found out the crazy son had his daughter’s picture up on his bedroom wall.
        I read that the CIA or spies from inside reported that. They also were reporting on Hussein and his other family members, although now they say those reports were not true. But we have never really investigated that issue either.

      2. Sand_Cat March 17, 2013

        I think it’s clear that – while the hit on daddie was a factor – the primary reasons were “cheap” political points and showing he was better than daddie.

    5. Mulligatonney March 12, 2013

      I wonder if your faithful followers have figured you out yet – it seems not.

      It should be at least fairly obvious to them that you never have anything good to say not only about Republicans or conservatives – but you never have anything good to say about the United States in general…

      So – what country or government in world history is your model? It is quite obviously not the United States.

      Of course you believe the United States is wrong – you have a different idea about what America should look like that doesn’t look much like the founding principles, the Declaration Of Independence, or the Constitution, yes?

      But you screwed up and actually got something right – we should have taken care of Saudia Arabia while we were geared up and ready. Like Patton should have been allowed to take care of the Russians.

      Why don’t you lecture your “society with little interest or knowledge of foreign affairs” about all the Democrat presidents that took the United States to war? And compare them with Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Mao, Marcos, Castro, etc. Maybe that will reveal a little more about yourself to them, if you have the temerity to be honest.

      That is not likely, either….

      Not unlike your buddy OBama, you sell snake-oil to those you deem to be a little inferior intellectually and weave the truth with the lie so that it sounds right to them. OBama sells debt as “progress”, taxes the people he promised not to tax only two months ago and tells them its not a tax – that it’s all Bush’s fault and that the tax is not really a tax and money is fiat, and so is debt, etc. etc. ad infinitum. But you don’t tell them that 16 out of the top 20 richest Americans are Democrats…

      And – I have to give you propagandists credit – you know your rabble. They lap it up and parrot it right back.

      But your argument is weak and is refuted by history – and even the stupidest of your faithful will eventually see that all you are about is bullshit. Who knows? Maybe even Woodfork will open her eyes when the War On Poverty is 100 years old and the poor are still in the same place.

      Maybe those people temporarily blinded by your endless babbling will see soon that our rights are God-given, not man-given, and that the Constitution protects and insures those rights. Maybe they will see opportunity for progress through individual effort and hard work instead of welfare checks and disability payments from the government in return for their votes. Maybe they will then be able to see government as our fathers did – a necessary evil that should never be allowed to wield too much power.

      Because ultimately, man is a sinner and corrupt, and falls prey to power. That is the beauty of America’s founding principles. They knew that and took steps to keep it in check. It’s not in check anymore. But then- they gave us a way to fix that, too.

      1. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

        You have some interesting points here, but you forget one important thing. HISTORY HAS HAPPENED. It is in no way partisan to any particular party or belief. It doesn’t matter if you are a Tpartier or a “libtard” or a “commie” or whatever. Things have happened and to deny them is to contribute to a false history, not the truth. The problem is getting to those truths, and as a person gets along in life they begin to understand that some things happen in this world that are not on the news channels and probably never will be either.

        1. Mulligatonney March 13, 2013

          Thank you, Helen.

          Battles always begin with an initial attack, many designed to probe the defenses of the enemy to reveal weakness. In my opinion, with what I know of American history, the attack on the Truth has been underway since the 50’s and the counterattack began in earnest only recently.

          The battle is far from decided – as more and more American citizens begin to understand that their tolerance and good will has been mistaken for weakness by those attempting to use it as a springboard to seizing political power for themselves, the battle will begin to swing in the other direction.

          One of the lessons of history is that liberty must be won by every generation. The tyrant, whether a single person, or collection of self-interested politicians, is always striving to control the masses. The mistake of the masses throughout history is to believe the promise of “Hope And Change”, whatever form that has taken throughout the generations, and fashion a new golden calf.

          OBama, liberalism, progressivism, socialism, communism – are all just different facets of the same fake diamond. Initially they glitter, in some people’ eyes, until the owner realizes they aren’t worth anything.

          The United States Constitution, along with the Declaration Of Independence – is unique in its insistence upon individual liberty and a government limited in its power.

          Nikita Khruschev once stated that the United States was far too strong to be taken by another world power. He stated that if we were to fall, we would have to fall from within…

          That is ultimately what the American socialist, communist, progressive, marxist, liberal strives to accomplish. That is what OBama is ultimately about, in my opinion. His anti-colonial, communist history screams at us to pay attention. He drags many optimists along with him, hoping against hope that what he promises is true. But his actions, his policies and the results that this country is experiencing also shout at us to the contrary.

          More and more Americans are beginning to discover the truth about undisciplined social, economic and foreign policies.

          They don’t work. And large, powerful government, whether one or many, begins to think it is God… Executive orders, gun control, lawsuits against states by the Federal Government, even banning large soft drinks ala the genius Bloomberg… Don’t you see where this is heading?

          So, yes – I agree with you. Things have happened. But the real battle is just getting started. There would have been no battle had OBama been telling the truth. Because the evidence would have shown it. Just as the evidence is showing that he never had any intention of living up to his campaign promises.

          While he punishes the American people by purposely targeting high profile places to administer the sequester that he himself authored, he plays golf and plans his next vacation.

          Now – that’s the Truth.

          1. Clintstantinople March 14, 2013

            God damn that’s a lot of explaining to just say you don’t like having a nigger in the White House. Be racist, that’s cool, just be honest about it. Nobody wants to read your convoluted manifesto.

          2. Mulligatonney March 16, 2013

            …and another one of the intellectual left rings in – but don’t let the three syllable words make you feel too insecure – I was only writing to some one whom I thought could actually read…

            So – you think its cool to be a racist? Interesting – next time I respond to your missives, I’ll have my responses translated into ebonics. Then possibly you will not feel compelled to sit with one thumb in your mouth and the other in your ass and switch them every few minutes while you attempt to comprehend a few simple thoughts.

            Interesting pen name you chose for yourself. That’s exactly the same thing your namesake did with a cigar and a fat chick. But at least, that particular stunt showed a little imagination against the backdrop of simply pulling his weiner out of his pants as a standard means of introducing himself to every hotel clerk he encountered.

            You must be a closet conservative, according to the liberal “manifesto”. You show no imagination at all.

          3. Sand_Cat March 17, 2013


    6. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

      There is a lot of truth in what you say. However, not all the nation agreed with what Bush was doing. It was just that the press was behind him and no disagreement was allowed as it was considered unpatriotic. Many many people were against going into Iraq such as those “grannies” who protested and others such as Bill Moyers. But there was a lot of pressure to “do something” and so Bush went ahead and sent in the troops.

  2. CPAinNewYork March 12, 2013

    Three cheers for Jason Sattler. He tells it like it is.

  3. hotflashweave March 12, 2013

    I”m sure that US military weapons inscribed with Bibical verses didn’t heip with that perception.

  4. Kenneth Lane March 12, 2013

    I, an old man, knew that the Republicans lied us into war–it was totally obvious! I said so then and I say so now–Republicans are traitors to America! Self serving scum of the lowest order!

    1. BDC_57 March 12, 2013

      And they still lying.

    2. Kenneth Snyder March 12, 2013

      I am as old as you, probably. I remember 1964 and LBJ saying “I will never
      involve our American Boys in a foreign war”. Goldwater, according to LBJ
      supporters was a war monger and would start WW III. So, I voted for LBJ
      (my first time being able to vote) and 7 months later (June 15, 1965) found
      myself in VietNam. Last I remebered LBJ was a DEMOCRAT. The phony
      Gulf of Tonkin incident was drummed up bny LBJ and his cabinet. The
      Joint Chiefs of Staff begged nLBJ and McNamara (SECDEF) not to involve
      us in a land war in SE Asia (Because Ho Chi Minh would fight to the end
      even if he had 10 million dead). The JCS said we couldn’t win without
      horrendous casualties (58,000 dead). They were prophetic about the North’s
      dead – about 2 million.(a very conservative estimate). SO that Republicans
      start wars let’s see WW I – Wilson (Democrat), Germany never attaced us.
      WW II – FDR (Germany never attacked us as did Japan). Korea – Truman
      (Guess what? Another Democrat. JFK was the first to get us involved in
      VietNam-also a Democrat. Where the hell are the Repulblican’s I thought they
      were all war mongers who started wars. Wow, don’t let the facts bite you in
      the A$$.

      1. emadis41 March 12, 2013

        You’re wrong about WWII, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and when the US responded by declaring war on Japan, the German declared war on US.

        1. adriancrutch March 12, 2013

          The sad part is that the Jap Naval code was broke and FDR knew of the attack and let it happen. Read=Day of Deceit

        2. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

          We were gearing up for the war, though. It was just not popular in Congress to go ahead and declare war if we had not been attacked. That may have been why FDR let Pearl Harbor happen, if indeed that is what did take place. But I remember a lot of stuff like soldiers signing up and news articles and the OSS, etc, all before Dec. 7, 1941. Also tanks and airplanes were being manufactured and supported by government contracts.

      2. Hillbilly March 12, 2013

        Germany attacked ships including hospital ships that had Americans on board and the Germans knew there were American Citizens and citizens from other countries but attacked the ships anyway. So Germany did attack us when they attacked ships that were cruise ships and hospital ships with Americans on board. Germany didn’t attack us but they declared war on the US after the US declared war Japan ,Japan and Germany had signed a treaty that said if one has war declared against them the other would declare war on that nation.
        Kenneth Snyder, you need some history lessons, about WW1 and WW2 and who did what. because everything you posted are 1/2 lies or complete lies about why we fought WW1 and WW2. Learn your Country’s history.

        1. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

          This true and also many merchant marine ships transporting weapons and food to England.

      3. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

        I understand what you are saying, but I am older than you are. I remember WW II as a child. But I also knew the Germans did attack us, at least they torpedoed some eight of our steamships that were trying to take supplies to Great Britain.

        I also remember blackout curtains and sirens when the submarine was in Long Island Sound about to attack New York City. Those guys were caught and shot right then and there, too, I read. Also the Japanese attacked several times in California although little damage was done. There is often a misconception that WW II began with Pearl Harbor. It did NOT. It began in 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland. We just never declared war but were in the process of manufacturing the weapons and supplies that were going to be needed.

      4. Mulligatonney March 13, 2013

        You are right on the money, sir. Nice to see there’s a few people who still remember the truth – before it got re-packaged and sold as “Hope and Change”…

      5. Clintstantinople March 14, 2013

        Well, they did start the Iraq war. Which is what this article is about. And what everybody in the comment thread (presumably) is trying to talk about.

      6. Sand_Cat March 17, 2013

        Actually, the French involvement ended in 1954: we’d been paying practically the entire cost of their effort to regain their colony. It was also during Eisenhower’s term that the U.S. convinced the South Vietnamese to reject the Geneva Accords. Eisenhower and the Dulles lunatics also started the trouble in Iraq by overthrowing a secular elected government and putting the Shah in power. JFK and LBJ certainly deserve plenty of blame, but most of the casulties occurred during Nixon’s term.

        1. angelsinca March 19, 2013

          Nixon ended the conflict in Spring ’73

    3. Helen Cawyer March 13, 2013

      I am not sure if “traitor” is the correct word, but they certainly were influenced by a lot of propaganda put out by their party and by their news channels. Just look back at all that fiasco about Obama and his birth certificate. It is hard to believe that ever happened in an intelligent, educated, and knowledgeable country as the U.S. has always considered itself to be.

    4. Mulligatonney March 16, 2013

      Have you lived your entire life being that stupid or is your mental blank spot due to some war injury?

      Roosevelt was a Democrat
      Truman was a Democrat
      Kennedy was a Democrat
      Johnson was a Democrat
      Carter was a Democrat
      Clinton was a Democrat
      OBama is a Democrat

      You liberals have such a capacity for stupidity and blind loyalty that
      is almost admirable in its tenacity – if it were not so dangerous for
      the country to accommodate that kind of relentless determination to
      follow blind guides… You and the media give a free pass to all things that call themselves Democrat and pile all the blame on the Republicans.

      So – again, you ignorant bastard. Explain how Republicans are more traitorous than all the Democrats who got America involved in war.

      1. Sand_Cat March 17, 2013

        Yes, I think we all know who the Democrats and Republicans were and are, as surely as we can tell you’re a Republican, and one of the lunatic fringe at that.

        1. Mulligatonney March 17, 2013

          Speaking of ignorant bastards…

          …who should ring in but an individual identifying themselves as “sand cat”

          …is that because your playmates were always attempting to cover you up when you played in the sandbox, mistaking you for a steaming pile of OBama?

          The subject was about the blame that the socialists/communists on this site cast at Republicans for warmongering…

          The truth is that more Democrat administrations were involved in wars than Republicans.

          And, “sand-turd” or whatever you choose to call yourself – you are wrong also in idenfitying me as Republican. I don’t think Republicans are doing a very good job of upholding the Constitution, either.

          I am far worse of a nightmare to you socialists than a Republican, I assure you…

  5. midway54 March 12, 2013

    Indeed, the Cheney-Bush White House got us into the mideastern mess, The scoundrel Cheney and his scumbag neocon pals never saw a war they didn’t love. Cheney with his five deferrals cheered the military on while in his arm chair, and busily keeping track of the profits he was raking in. Our plutocracy still is looking around the World to continue the perpetual wars for perpetual profits including those earned through nation building. Meanwhile, the plutocrats cannot be concerned about conditions at home in terms of infrastructure and our disappearing middle class suffering with inadequate or non-existent health care that they cannot afford and the poor who are barely able to survive on little more than subsistence wages.

    1. Elfriede Wegener March 12, 2013

      You are so right about Cheney and Bush, but they are still playing lilly-white. It is inconceivable that there are still people who don’t get it what Bush and Cheney did to our nation. They should be in jail.

  6. syed.khader@att.net March 13, 2013

    These criminals who are responsible should be tried by our government itself, we do not need world tribunal to try these criminals, show the world USA is a just country do not tolerate any of its leaders commiting crime against humanity. Now MEDIA is promoting JEB BUSH, as thought two BUSH’S were not enough to destroy USA’s economy moral respect in the world, now we want another BUSH to completely destroy this country. Thanks NO MORE BUSH please.


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