Friday, March 8, 2013

Remembering the Iraq War: 10 years

By Dale Bowling

Sunday, March 10 marks a full decade since the US invaded Iraq. President Bush, egged on by Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, decided that those WMDs that Saddam had squirreled away weren't going to find themselves and we shouldn't wait until "the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud." It was a line so good that both Bush and Condolezza Rice used it at varying times.

Hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, we know that there weren't any WMDs in Iraq to find. Later inquiries would turn up such gems that US intelligence on Iraq largely depended on dubious informants and that there was plenty of solid evidence that no WMDs existed at all.

But in March, 2003 we weren't hearing any of that. All we were hearing was "mushroom cloud", "slam dunk", "anthrax", "mobile weapons labs".

The people who got us into this mess argued at the time that Iraq's oil wealth could finance its own reconstruction and this would be very cheap for the US (a few billion dollars) and we would be greeted as liberators with "Sweets and Flowers".

Well it didn't happen that way, did it?

None of this business would fly now. For one thing, we're not in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, so the fear and paranoia that allowed the Iraq War to go through on the word of the Bush Administration doesn't exist anymore.

The atmosphere of Post 9/11 Cooperation is gone, too. Then, both parties were united against terrorism and a very substantial number of Democrats voted in favor of the resolution to invade Iraq- including Secretaries of State, Clinton and Kerry. These Democrats took the Bush Administration and the Intelligence community at its word that their evidence was sound. Can you imagine the Mitch McConnells or the John Boehners of the world following Obama into such a poorly sourced military adventure today? Not likely.

The Iraq War has been called a lot of things. Thomas Ricks, titled his book about the Iraq War, Fiasco. I have alternatively heard it called a debacle, a disaster, and most benignly, an intelligence failure. Usually it's Republicans who call it that.

We have heard about the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that simply went missing, how America's credibility as a World Leader was compromised, about the senseless violence that ended thousands of lives and about the trillions of dollars that were added to the deficit to pay for all this. We've heard how the Bush Administration didn't bother to create a plan for the post-Saddam Iraq until Saddam had already fallen. By then, the country had fallen into lawlessness, arms plants had been looted and Iraqis had lost faith in the American occupation.

Fiasco indeed.

Ultimately, the Iraq War stands as a monument to human hubris and Man's capacity for self-deception. The Neocons' idea that they could "create their own realities" seems so ludicrous today, precisely because it was ludicrous. But the people making the decisions had decided to ignore that.

When we examine such issues as Climate Change, Immigration, Reproductive Rights, Gun Control, etc., let's think about the lessons of the Iraq War and never, ever allow Ideology to trump Evidence again.

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