Marches of Folly
By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times
Published: March 17, 2013
Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.
Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake – that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right.
There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war – having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted – left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.
So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.
The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents – but they were out of the mainstream.
What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority. If you hear that “everyone” supports a policy, whether it’s a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether “everyone” has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion. And policy arguments should be evaluated on the merits, not by who expresses them; remember when Colin Powell assured us about those Iraqi W.M.D.’s?
Iraq War: An Eight-Year Massive Crime-But the US Political Class & Press Ask, ‘Was It Worth It?’
By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake
Monday March 18, 2013 12:29 pm
Let’s stay away from discussion of whether war was a “mistake” or not. It cannot be a “mistake” because the administration of President George W. Bush did not just happen to stumble into Iraq and bomb it with a campaign of “shock and awe.” The administration spent months constructing a case for war knowing there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein posed any imminent threat yet they fabricated arguments to convince government agencies, the political class, the press and the public that this was a war that had to be waged. All of which makes the war a crime, not a mistake.
There should be reflection on the crime that was the Iraq war. Throughout the week, government documents revealing the conspiracy and corruption should be highlighted. Stories from Iraqis who were subjected to bombings, torture, arbitrary detention, night raids, Iraqi security forces backed by the US that conducted themselves as death squads, abusive and exploitative private contractors, corruption that propped up Iraq’s ruling elites, etc, should all receive attention.
President Barack Obama’s administration, Congress and others in government do not want to see a real outpouring of empathy and remorse for what happened. That would undermine the idea of America, the myth of the country being a force for good in the world.
Is it worth it that the US invaded and left behind a country where torture is pervasive? Is it worth it that the US only worsened sectarian tensions and even played groups against each other to get results desired and now that is fueling violence? Is it worth it that all war crimes committed in Iraq have gone unpunished; that few responsible for murder and torture have been held accountable, particularly those who were serving as high-ranking government officials and authorized or looked the other way when such acts were committed?
Not only did Iraq war hawks push America into war, but the House and Senate, including Democrats, authorized war. The media notoriously signed on to the war. People in power who could have spoken up and sections of society that could have been more outspoken were silent.
No persons have ever been held accountable for the war. The organization of a truth commission, where Bush administration officials and others complicit or responsible for the criminal Iraq war are exposed and shamed, has not occurred.