If we’re going to rehash the Iraq decision, let’s at least get it right

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It has taken a long time, but with the 2016 presidential campaign, we are finally trying to come to grips with the disastrous decision to invade Iraq. Poll after poll now reports that an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize the war as a mistake, and our would-be leaders are scrambling to reconcile their own past positions on the war with that new political reality.

However, if this exercise is to be useful, it has to be honest and it has to be more than a wistful look back. We have to be willing to draw lessons from that painful mistake that will help guide us in avoiding such mistakes in the future. And that part of the debate, the only truly important part, is unfortunately not happening.

Let’s start with this:

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was based on three important assumptions. All three of those assumptions had to be correct for the war to have been justified, and in the end, none of the three proved valid. Those assumptions were:

1.) We assumed, based on intelligence, that Iraq had a major, ongoing WMD program. Today, we know that to be untrue, a fact that Jeb Bush and others now cite when claiming, begrudgingly, that they would not have invaded “knowing what we know now.” It has become a form of a “get out of jail blame-free card.”

The problem is, we knew that Iraq had no major, ongoing WMD program even back then, before we sent a single American soldier across the border. We don’t like to remember that fact, but it is true nonetheless. UN inspectors had been on the ground in Iraq for weeks just before the war, roaming freely, inspecting palaces and everywhere else, and they had found literally nothing. We knew at that point that Saddam had no nuclear program and no ongoing WMD program of any size or consequence, although it remained possible that he had small, secret caches of such weapons somewhere. Another couple of weeks of inspections would have resolved that matter as well.

However, the inspectors were pulled at American insistence before they could complete their work, because once that work was complete it would have removed the justification for an invasion that we had already decided would occur, WMD or no WMD.

2.) We also assumed that unless we intervened with an unprovoked, “preventative war,” Iraq would turn its WMD against American targets, either directly or indirectly by giving those weapons to al Qaeda. That claim was never true, it was never even plausible and was backed by no credible intelligence; Saddam Hussein had no means or reason to attack us directly, and he had no reason to cooperate with Islamic terrorists who were his regime’s sworn enemies, for reasons that subsequent history has made clear.

In short, the dire propaganda of “mushroom clouds over American cities,” of Iraqi “unmanned aerial vehicles” somehow delivering WMD to our shores, of secret meetings in Czechoslovakia between al Qaeda and Saddam’s regime — they were all inventions created out of whole cloth to terrify the American people into accepting war. It was a shameful, conscious deception; none of it had any basis in fact or logic.

3.) We assumed that after being greeted as liberators, our brief, painless and cost-free occupation of Iraq — it would pay for itself, remember? — would turn that deeply troubled and inherently violent country into a peaceful beacon of Western democracy and a permanent base from which to project American military power in the region. Really, we thought that would happen. Or at least those in control thought it would happen.

That’s how truly clueless we were. That’s how little we knew about the region and about the limitations of overwhelming military power. That’s how arrogant we were in assuming that we could march into that country and remake it to our liking.

It is now more than a decade later, enough time for passions to cool a bit and thoughtful appraisals to take place. But if we allow our leaders to pretend that the only thing wrong with our decision to invade Iraq was our failure to find WMD, we get it all wrong all over again and we raise the odds dramatically of repeating that tragic mistake.

Even if Iraq had possessed WMD, it posed no real threat to us. That threat had to be invented. And even if Iraq had possessed WMD, the subsequent occupation would still have been a disaster and we would still be facing the enormous repercussions of that disaster, including 4,000 dead Americans, tens of thousands of damaged soldiers, trillions of dollars wasted and a Middle East much less stable than before the invasion.

And this is the important part: Alleged Iraqi WMD was the excuse for the war, it was not the reason for the war. The war was fought as an opportunity to demonstrate to the world a newly muscular, Cheney-esque effort that would supposedly cow all of our enemies and fully engage the world-changing power of the American military. And we’ve seen how that all worked out.

Even now, many of those claiming to have learned the lessons of Iraq are proving that they have learned nothing at all, because they are still preaching the same cowboy foreign-policy that got us into that mess. Iraq is not an object lesson to them; it is an inconvenient little fact that has to be explained away with soothing words before they can go on to pursue the very same policies that led us into the single biggest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history.

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1153 comments
lvg
lvg

Now that Ramadi fell to the fleeing Iraq army; who is going to defend Baghdad? Iran? US?Time to get those body bags back out of storage .

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

Good grief.  Can the cons not bring themselves to acknowledge what an unmitigated disaster the Bush (the younger) Administration was?


Corey
Corey

Ladies and Germs, may I stray off topic? Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wall St. reviewed percentage of each state's labor force working for state and local governments, excluding federal employment. Here is a list of the top states with the highest percentage of local and state government employees: 1. Wyoming 22.4% of workforce work for local and state government. 2. Alaska 20%; 3. New Mexico more than 20%; 4. Mississippi one in five workers are employed by state and local governments; 5. Oklahoma 18%;  6.  Montana 17%;  7.  Kansas 17%; 8. South Carolina 17%;  9. Alabama 17%; 10. West Virginia 17%.


All of these are red states who rail against big government yet local and state governments employ a chunk of the workforce. Without government  unemployment in these states would be much higher. 

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

@Corey Um, it kinda coincides with the state's population rank, don't it? You have to provide trash collection no matter how many people there are, and anybody with any business experience knows you are more proficient with a larger customer base. See how well your city trash business does when there's a 5 mile run between houses.

Starik
Starik

@IReportYouWhine#1 @Corey Actually, there's no government trash collection in lots of localities- Gwinnett? North Fulton? Lots of rural areas have bring your trash to the dump systems.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Trying to kill this beast from the top down ain't gonna work, any idiot knows that. What qualifications do you think there are for turning a mob of maniacs loose on large gathering of innocent civilians? Especially with the US Armed Forces standing idly by.  I'm not thinking we have the second passing of George Patton here. 


Sorry, but you're gonna have to kill all of um.

Wena Mow Masipa How
Wena Mow Masipa How

Under the expert leadership of the current Commander in Chief, the US military racks up another victory.  That's got to drive our cons even crazier. LOL

lvg
lvg

Saudis are not happy with Obama because:


1. US keeps killing their guys who are top leaders in ISIL:
2. US producing too much oil and consuming too little;
3. US won't join Saudis and Al Queda in fighting Shiites in Yemen;  
4. US letting Shiites kill Sunnis in Iraq;and 

5. Obama continuing St. Ronald's policy of negotiating with Iranians

Never thought I would see the day an American President would stand up to the Israelis and the Saudis.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@gotalife 

U.S. RAID IN SYRIA
TOP ISIS LEADER KILLED
 

***

There appears to be some back and forth between governments over responsibility, whether this was a Syrian, a US, or a combined operation.

Syrian army kills Islamic State's "oil minister"-state TV

May 16 The Syrian army has killed an Islamic State leader responsible for oil-related affairs along with 40 other militants in an attack in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, Syrian state media reported.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/16/mideast-crisis-syria-islamicstate-idUSL5N0Y70A620150516

2-Monitor says Syria state TV carried incorrect report on raid

BEIRUT May 16 (Reuters) - A group tracking the Syrian civil war said a report on Syrian state TV claiming the army had killed an Islamic State official had incorrectly taken credit for a raid carried out by U.S. forces.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the reported raid on an oil field in the eastern Deir al-Zor province was the same one which U.S. officials said was carried out by the American special operations forces. 

Syrian state TV had carried news of the raid before it was announced in the United States, quoting its Deir al-Zor correspondent. 

http://af.reuters.com/article/idAFL5N0Y70BC20150516


breckenridge
breckenridge

Them libs aint got no Jesus is my co-pilot bumper stickers.  Thats why they always reck their cars, cause they hate God and Christuns just like ISIS does.  They needs to move to the rurel south and git dunked in the river so they can be reel republcans.

fedup52
fedup52

A good article by Joe Norcera in NYT.  It is my belief capitalism is taking the fun out of science and scientists.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Now, now, let us not offend any of our muslim readers with all this gay talk.

Normd
Normd

@IReportYouWhine#1 


A little early to bring up gay porn, isn't it Andy?  Come on out of the closet, you'll feel better about yourself...honest you will...

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

You have to be a damn good shot to hit a train travelling at 107 mph, so it couldn't have been al qaeda.


Or enviro-fascists either, for that matter. 


Probably not a terror attack.





Orange15
Orange15

@gotalife  Oh Good Lordy! Lets get a big old tax increase so we can make all these trains bullet proof. Okay?

fedup52
fedup52

@Orange15 @gotalife I like the tax hike idea but to pay down the debt and deficit.  How much can you contribute?

BTW some CEO made $350 Mills last year.  How much tax should he pay to help the tracks put modern equipments?

td1234
td1234

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton reported Friday they earned more than $25 million combined in speaking fees since January 2014.

Clinton’s presidential campaign reported the income in a personal financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission. The report, required of every candidate for the White House, also shows Hillary Clinton earned more than $5 million from her 2014 memoirs, “Hard Choices.”

The details of the report were described by a Clinton campaign official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a report not yet publicly available from the FEC. The report was expected to be released publicly later Friday.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

@td1234 She better get back out there.  Bill has bills to pay!

Normd
Normd

@td1234 


Sounds like a good hard working American couple to me...so what's your beef?

LeninTime
LeninTime

TD

As for the sluggish GDP growth under Obama, no other US president is going to do any better. This is the confluence of long-range trends of sluggishness in capitalism that have been building for at least 3 decades now but which since the 2008 crash have become critical. It's very likely we will never see growth again from capitalism like the 1950s and 60s.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@td1234 

Like I said, don't think you're going to see those again.

TBS
TBS

@LeninTime


Lenin not sure if the economy will continue to stay this sluggish but certainly the overall trend is not going to get back to the 50s and 60s anytime soon.

Lot of other major players now involved when it comes to finance, manufacturing and the like as opposed to that time frame. 

I don't think it is all doom and gloom but you have a point when it comes to the 50s and 60s and current overall trend over the last 30 years or so.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@TBS @td1234 @LeninTime 

He's picking the GDP growth in 1984 and ignoring all of the other years.

He also probably forgot that Reagan raised various taxes in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

Maggot_Man
Maggot_Man

@LeninTime Lenin's correct. Productivity was a key factor in economic growth during the past several decades; the rate of technological advances that drove this train is unsustainable.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@td1234 

Yes, Obama is trying his dead level best to bring more and more socialism to the nation, hence his 1.7% GDP growth. 

**

That's got to be one of the more risible things I've seen you claim.

If you think Barack Obama, a right wing Republican by everything but name and a ruthless defender of Wall St. and US corporate monopoly power, is a socialist then you'll apparently believe just about anything. How could a socialist be pursuing the TransPacific Partnership? 


 The US economy is the closet thing the world has to free market Capitalism.
***

As I said, no it's not, it's pure monopoly capitalism.

td1234
td1234

@LeninTime Obama is in NO WAY a right wing Republican. He could be considered a Wall street and Banking crony just like many Republicans but he is neither a social Conservative, fiscal Conservative nor a Neo Con. 

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith, Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas

End of Watch: Friday, May 15, 2015

td1234
td1234

"Some kids could really use a lesson on the Constitution. Take for instance an unidentified high school student who filed a suit last year against the Matawan-Aberdeen school district in New Jersey on the basis that hearing the Pledge of Allegiance in class violated his rights as an atheist.

Judge David F. Bauman, who dismissed the case in February but whose ruling was just published Monday, disagreed with this faulty assertion."

“Protecting students from viewpoints and ideas that may offend or upset them is not and has never been the role of public schools in America,” he wrote.

But he did not stop there. He also pointed out how the phrase “under God,” which is what the student had a problem with, appears everywhere in America.

“As a matter of historical tradition, the words ‘under God’ can no more be expunged from the national consciousness than the words ‘In God We Trust’ from every coin in the land, than the words ‘so help me God’ from every presidential oath since 1789, or than the prayer that has opened every congressional session of legislative business since 1787,” the judge noted."

Furthermore, even the New Jersey State Constitution references God, meaning that “the very constitution under which” the student sought “redress for perceived atheistic marginalization could itself be deemed unconstitutional,” a notion the judge described as “absurd.”

According to BizPac Review, The American Humanist Association, which had teamed up with the unidentified teen, was not too happy with the ruling.

One of their spokespeople claimed that having children recite the Pledge of Allegiance is “discriminatory” and makes atheists feel like “second-class citizens.”

However, Judge Bauman explained that students have “every right to skip the Pledge” if they so desire. What they do not have the right to do is stop other students from reciting it."

JamVet
JamVet

@td1234 

I wonder if kids know that the phrase ...provide for the General Welfare... is in our Constitution?

As for the pledge?

Change it back to the way it was before the religious nuts in the 1950s perverted it...