Dennis Kucinich / Reader Supported News & Steve Weissman / RSN – 2014-06-17 19:23:16
Stop Calling the Iraq War a ‘Mistake’
Dennis Kucinich / Reader Supported News
(June 17, 2014) — As Iraq descends into chaos again, more than a decade after “Mission Accomplished,” media commentators and politicians have mostly agreed upon calling the war a “mistake.” But the “mistake” rhetoric is the language of denial, not contrition: it minimizes the Iraq War’s disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation’s foreign policy disaster. The Iraq War was not a “mistake” — it resulted from calculated deception. The painful, unvarnished fact is that we were lied to. Now is the time to have the willingness to say that.
In fact, the truth about Iraq was widely available, but it was ignored. There were no WMD. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The war wasn’t about liberating the Iraqi people. I said this in Congress in 2002. Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war — and even leveled with the spurious charge of “not supporting the troops.”
I’ve written and spoken widely about this topic, so today I offer two ways we can begin to address our role:
1) President Obama must tell us the truth about Iraq and the false scenario that caused us to go to war.
When Obama took office in 2008, he announced that his administration would not investigate or prosecute the architects of the Iraq War. Essentially, he suspended public debate about the war. That may have felt good in the short term for those who wanted to move on, but when you’re talking about a war initiated through lies, bygones can’t be bygones.
The unwillingness to confront the truth about the Iraq War has induced a form of amnesia which is hazardous to our nation’s health. Willful forgetting doesn’t heal, it opens the door to more lying. As today’s debate ensues about new potential military “solutions” to stem violence in Iraq, let’s remember how and why we intervened in Iraq in 2003.
2) Journalists and media commentators should stop giving inordinate air and print time to people who were either utterly wrong in their support of the war or willful in their calculations to make war.
By and large, our Fourth Estate accepted uncritically the imperative for war described by top administration officials and congressional leaders. The media fanned the flames of war by not giving adequate coverage to the arguments against military intervention.
President Obama didn’t start the Iraq War, but he has the opportunity now to tell the truth. That we were wrong to go in. That the cause of war was unjust. That more problems were created by military intervention than solved. That the present violence and chaos in Iraq derives from the decision which took America to war in 2003. More than a decade later, it should not take courage to point out the Iraq war was based on lies.
Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iraq?
Steve Weissman / Reader Supported News
(June 16, 2014) — From the sage of NSA surveillance Glenn Greenwald to the prophet of a new American populism Peter Beinart to my old friend from London the political reprobate Christopher Hitchens, a lot of extremely brainy people with liberal or left-wing pedigrees initially backed George W. Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq. What a marvelous thing, they thought, to overthrow a terrible tyrant like Saddam Hussein.
Truth be told, I shared their hatred of Saddam. I had been one of the first to warn back in 1981 of Iraqi and Pakistani efforts to build what Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto called “The Islamic Bomb.” These were serious nuclear programs, as opposed to the bogus Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that the Bushies and their British toady Tony Blair conjured up.
But the war never made any sense to me. Having spent too many years as an anti-war organizer learning the anti-colonial lessons of Vietnam, I could never answer the big question that these intellectual heavy-weights generally failed to ask. How could US armed forces once again step into a foreign country they would never understand and do anything but make a bad situation worse?
How much worse? We are only beginning to see. When Bush unleashed his “Shock and Awe” over Baghdad in March 2003, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda meant nothing in Iraq, no matter how loudly Vice President Dick Cheney insisted that they did. This week, the far more bloodthirsty and extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) controls the country’s second largest city, Mosul, threatens to attack Baghdad, and hold sway across the border into Northeast Syria. They appear to have the support of the so-called “Sunni moderates” with whom General David Petraeus scored his highly touted “victories,” while the Iranians — the only real winners of Bush’s war on Iraq — are now moving in to help the desperate Shia government of Nouri al Maliki fight back.
The Iranians are even seeking Western support, while British foreign secretary William Hague has publicly suggested that he will send in “anti-terrorist units” from the SAS and other special forces. My guess is that some of them are already there, along with some of ours as well. Somehow, Special Forces don’t seem to count when Western leaders promise not to send in combat troops.
Hold in mind that the Shia make up two-thirds of the Iraqi population, while the Sunnis represent only 17%. This does not say much for al Maliki’s government or his Western-trained armed forces. Hold in mind as well that the Kurdish minority in the north now holds the city of Kirkuk, and we could be seeing the split up of Iraq, which the British and French colonialists only agreed to put together at the end of World War I.
What better setting for more wisdom from Washington, which can barely keep its own house in order. Only now, the foghorn of American nationalism John McCain is no longer singing his old ditty “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran!” Now he, his neocon camp-followers, and other apostles of Baby Bush’s unwinnable colonial war are trying to pin the blame on President Obama and his national security advisers for failing to leave forces behind in Iraq.
“The fact is we had the conflict won, and we had a stable government,” McCain proclaims, rewriting history with a broad brush. “But the president wanted out and now we are paying a very heavy price.” It’s the same old stab-in-the-back nonsense. As in Vietnam or the conflicts of Europe, the military always wins the war, but the civilians and politicians sell them out.
“This is one of the gravest threats to our nation’s national security since the end of the cold war,” McCain told The Guardian. “We are facing a disaster here, not only in Iraq but Syria. Extremist groups now control more territory than at any time in history.”
McCain’s solution is to go back and win the war again, which we never did in the first place, and then to leave behind a never-ending imperial presence, which the American people have repeatedly said they do not wish to support.
But let’s be clear. Obama will deserve enormous blame if he swallows the bait and follows through on his threat to send in US bombers. What better way to foul up Iraq and the entire region even more! Renewed US intervention will only rally Islamist jihadis from all over, establishing ISIS as the only force willing to stand up against Western imperialism.
If there were ever a war for Americans not to fight, this Islamic civil war certainly tops the list, especially with the offer from Iran to join them in fighting the Sunnis. But trust Obama to go in half-pregnant as always, doing just enough to screw things up and nowhere near enough to do any good.
If there were ever a time for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Bill de Blasio and other would-be populists to take the lead against another military intervention that will make domestic reform even more difficult, now is that time.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.