The U.S. war in Iraq began in March 2003. There have been a couple of retrospectives that I want to point out as worth taking a look at. The first is MSNBC’s excellent documentary by Rachel Maddow – Hubris. Selling the Iraq War. It was just rebroadcast on March 22nd. The program was available briefly on YouTube prior to what I assume was a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown. I don’t know when or if the video will again be available (other than through sources such as BitTorrent or its ilk) but the documentary was based on a book – Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War – that is available at Amazon and other retailers. The book is by Michael Isikoff long-time investigative journalist for NBC and now with Newsweek and David Corn, then Washington Editor of the Nation and now Washington Bureau Chief of Mother Jones. It tells the sorry tale of lies and deception that got us into Iraq. For people who are interested in listening to the book, an audio version is available on Audible.com as well as on Amazon.com.
You’ll get another perspective on the run-up to the war in Iraq by reading the recent article by John Judis in the March 18 New Republic. Entitled: “Eve of Destruction What it was like to oppose the Iraq War in 2003.” The really interesting thing about this article is that, according to the author, most of the experts in the area were working hard to tell people that fighting a war in Iraq was a really bad idea. However, these people – from the military, the state department and academia – were systematically ignored or downplayed by the members of the Bush Administration who had already decided they knew the right way to solve the problems of the region and that the experts were to be paid no mind.
For myself, I can remember all too well the drumbeat for war that had started in August 2002 before we invaded Iraq in March 2003. It seemed so odd to me that almost overnight Iraq became the Great Satan – displacing the un-captured Osama bin Laden and the suddenly not all that important enemy Al Qaeda. What was going on I thought? Why was Saddam Hussein the new focus of the war on terrorism? I have to admit I was suspicious of the motives the Bush administration when it started pushing for authorization to go to war in Iraq just weeks before the Congressional midterm elections were to be held in the fall of 2002. The stench of political gamesmanship weighed heavily on the administration’s actions as the White House leveraged shrill voices to gin up overwrought fears. Suddenly the nation’s airwaves were filled with talk about mushroom clouds appearing in the desert. (That alone should have given us some pause, mushrooms? in the desert?)
That fall it often seemed as though questionable if not discounted facts were being treated as sacred truth when it came to Saddam Hussein’s WMD’s in Iraq. Why? I thought it was principally a political ploy designed to force Democratic lawmakers to take hasty and ill-considered votes in support of the administration’s policies rather than to appear weak on defense. I do not have any inside information. But what seemed apparent to me sitting here in the Midwest was that the administration was manufacturing a foreign policy “crisis” that was timed to pressure Congressional Democrats to take votes that would either be uncomfortable for them or even better yet cause them political problems down the road (something that ultimately happened to Hillary Clinton). What I believed then and now was that the Bush administration was cynically manipulating the information flowing from the national security agencies of our government to give a false picture of the actual state of affairs in Iraq and that they were doing that in significant part to serve their political interests rather than the interests of the American people or the interests of the people of Iraq.