The column is entitled, " Ten Years Ago An Honorable War Started with Wide Support." It's author, Fouad Adjami, is one of many supporters of the Iraq war who are using its tenth anniversary as an occasion to re-write or lie about history in the hope they can convince Americans this was a war worth fighting and that they don't have innocent blood on their hands. Adjami, along with Richard Pearl, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other architects of this policy, is obfuscating, fudging, stretching and cherry-picking facts in the hopes the worst foreign policy decision since Vietnam (or maybe the Mexican War) won't sully their reputations. It cannot be allowed to stand. History is too important.
In 1998, most of the future members of Bush's national security team signed on to a position paper created by the Project for a New American Century. The paper called for an American invasion of Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein and using Iraq as a "strategic pivot" to pressure and influence other nations in the region. The paper admitted this would be a tough policy to sell to the American people and would require its own "Pearl Harbor" moment to convince them to support it. This was the start of the Iraq war. (I leave open the question of whether September 11 was that moment)
We know from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil's memoir, at the first Bush cabinet meeting in January of 2001, attacking Iraq and deposing Saddam was on the agenda months before September 11th. The day after September 11th, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld demanded quick details on military targets to bomb in Iraq and had to be reminded Iraq did not attack us.
Adjami refers to an honorable war with wide support. What he doesn't say is the wide support for the war was based on a campaign of lies perpetrated by the White House Iraq Study Group with the complicity of the corporate media. The White House consistently conflated September 11th and Saddam. By the time of our invasion, over 50% of the American people thought Saddam either planned or facilitated the attack on this nation. A key architect of the war, Paul Wolfowitz, admitted to Vanity Fair in order to sell this war they needed a strategy and the only one everyone could agree upon was to stress the danger of weapons of mass destruction posed by Iraq and the possibility Hussein would give a nuclear, or biological, weapon to a terrorist group to be used in the U.S. They new this was a lie, but also knew scaring the American people is an easy proposition.
Scott Ritter, a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, and others publically challenged the administration's facts. Ritter stated all the weapons had been destroyed by the mid-nineties. He was ignored and the corporate media refused to interview him as we got closer to war. Some journalists tried to get the truth out, but were thwarted. The Washington Post now admits it buried stories critical of the administration or which called the President's facts into question. Former Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote an op-ed in which he accused the President of lying in his state of the union message about Iraq trying to acquire yellow cake uranium in order to make a bomb. To shut him up, and intimidate anyone else who might try to commit truth, his wife, a C.I.A. covert agent, was exposed to the public by Cheney and Scooter Libby. Scientists at the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee concluded that metal tubes, which Judith Miller of the New York Times, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, claimed were designed for centrifuges which refined uranium into fissionable material, could not possibly fulfill that function. They were never consulted even as Rice coined the most famous sales pitch of the war crying America could not wait to attack Iraq or the next smoke over New York would be a mushroom cloud.
Pete Wilson used to always bristle when he heard me say this, but the popular support Adjami sights was the result of lies, and damn lies left unchallenged by a craven media more concerned with profit than truth. I know I will face a barrage of disparaging names when I come home, but nothing compared to how I, and anyone who raised warnings about all this information, were treated. I was called a traitor, terrorist lover, Jew hater, Muslim lover, apologist for extremism and someone who should shut up because I could not possibly know more than the President.
The high point of this campaign of lies came when then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. Powell made numerous claims about Iraq including the claim it had mobile chemical weapon laboratories constantly producing more supply...chemical weapon warheads could be placed on Iraqi missiles within 45 minutes of the order being given and photographic evidence of a chemical weapons lab being abandoned before inspectors could arrive on the scene. Not one of Powell's statements was true. Yet, the media trumpeted his presentation and said it slammed the door on any doubters about the justification for war.
While Bush et.al. were selling a war, they were also getting ready to execute it. Despite telling the world he was working with the United Nations and wanted to give Saddam every chance to cooperate, we now know Bush already had decided to go to war long before March of 2003. The Downing Street Memos show Britain's head of M.I.6 reporting to Tony Blair on a trip to Washington in which he learned Bush was committed to going to war with Iraq and just had to "cook the books" to get the American people to go along. This was in July of 2002, almost a year before the invasion. Assets were transferred out of Afghanistan in preparation for war and we missed the chance to kill Osama Bin Laden and Dr. Zwahiri in the mountains of Tora Bora. ( a tragedy which allowed them to escape and decentralize Al Qaida making it more difficult to crush and enable it to still be alive 10 years later)
Bush has help in his war effort. Not only did the corporate media shill for his case, Congress also refused to confront him. Bush scheduled the vote on the use of force in Iraq right before the midterm elections knowing Democrats would be too scared of being accused of being soft on terrorism to vote against him. He was right. The craven Democrats made a political choice to sacrifice the lives of our youth to protect their jobs. Hillary Clinton might well be president today if not for her lack of political courage in voting for this war. In Congressional hearings, Paul Wolfowitz said the war would pay for itself with Iraqi oil revenues. Congress never held him to his word and allowed the president to get away with borrowing to pay for the war instead of imposing a war tax. (Bush knew a tax would kill support for this honorable war) As Wolfowitz was shinning Congress on, Cheney was predicting we would be greeted as liberators and Bush kept saying we had no choice. One voice in the wilderness was General John Shalikashvili, who told Congress it would take at least 300,000 troops to win the war and the occupancy. While Bush kept his job and Cheney his, the general was fired. He was also right.
President Obama was also right when he said this was a war of choice. He was correct when he said it was the wrong war. To this day, neither Adjami, Pearl, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld or Bush can answer Cindy Sheehan's question, "...for what purpose did my son die in Iraq?" Almost 5,000 other families and as many as 1,000,000 Iraqis could ask the same question.
The Iraq war destroyed any moral high ground this nation enjoyed after September 11th. The over $1 Trillion butcher's bill, borrowed on the nation's credit card to make the war go down easier, drowned the nation in red ink from which we have yet to recover. It was an Al Qaida recruiter's dream. In one fell swoop we eliminated Iran's worst enemy without them having to spend a dime or fire a shot and left them the most influential player in the region. (just look at their role in Syria if you have doubts) The American military is broken. The cost to repair it is astronomical. (and we haven't begun to add up the costs for all the Veteran's services we will have to provide)
An honorable war? We invaded a nation which had done nothing to us. We showed Iran, North Korea and any other rogue nation the way to check American aggression is to possess nuclear weapons, thus destabilizing most of the world. An honorable war is not built on lies and cover-ups. Bush wanted a war to show up daddy. Cheney, Wolfowitz et.al wanted Saddam gone at the suggestion of the Likkud party and Netanyahu and to prove you could impose democracy at the point of a gun.
Today the Shiite leader of Iraq is trying to build a dictatorship...the Sunni's are in opposition and wreaking havoc on the civilian population...Al Qaida is alive and well in Al Anbar province and crossing over into Syria to further exacerbate the civil war and Iran remains the dominant player in the region. No amount of revisionist history can change the truth. The question is will we learn from it?