And I fell for it:
A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.
“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.
He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”
The chemical engineer claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory when he sought political asylum in Germany in 1999. His lies were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.
But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”
US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.
Although simply saying “I fell for it” isn’t exactly right, and lets me off the hook. I was caught up in the pathology of the time, and wanted to believe it. There was lots of evidence this was nonsense, and I just ignored it. And the sad thing is that if a Republican wins the Presidency, there’ll be another Curveball out there leading the charge for us to invade Iran.
I guess this is as good a time as any to re-post what I think is the greatest blog post in the history of blogging, RonK’s Operation Desert Snipe from 2003.
I am afraid that we wil not have to wait for a Republican president.
Thank God no American reporter would ever ask such a biased question. What’s so great about facts anyway?
Flim Flam Man II: Iraqi Boogaloo
Forum Transmitted Disease
There’s always another Curveball, Republican or no. The key is to elect a president smart enough – or not beholden to Halliburton Industries – who won’t fall for their bullshit.
That kind of smarts seems to be in short supply these days on the Republican side of the aisle.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the corpse of Christopher Hitchens still trying to fellate Curveball?
Ease up on your bad self, homes.
Nom de Plume
@Forum Transmitted Disease: There’s always another Curveball, Republican or no.
I was just going to say, Curveball really isn’t the point here. If it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else. Anyone willing to say what was required.
And OT, but just out of curi-fucking-osity, is it possible for Cole and his 34985709138 frontpagers to coordinate their activities to the point where we don’t have a new post every 10 seconds?
So he’s responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the displacement and misery of millions, the sectarian bloodbath that followed and he still smiles…
F***er should be tried at the Hague with Bush, Cheney, and the lot of them.
I bought what Colin Powell was selling; I thought that he was a decent guy who could be trusted. Says more about me than it does about him.
PLH in NYC
What is worse is that none of the people from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell to Blair and the rest of the lying plutocracy will ever get even a slap on the wrist for having started a war of convenience based on lies that they knew were lies. Sure Bush’s legacy is assured to be in the bottom 10% of all time worst Presidents, but Bush & Co. get to Aw Shucks off into the sunset without even having to trip over the over 100,000 corpses they are responsible for.
You were lied to by your government, Cole.
Ain’t the first time it’s happened, it ain’t gonna be the last.
But there’s no shame in wanting to believe them. Authoritigh, and all that. Especially for ex-mil.
And no, I didn’t buy it at the time.
But I’m a godless heathen socialist (<- yea!) Marxist Communist hippy misanthropic sociopathic skeptic who doesn't trust any of them further than I can throw them.
Scott Ritter was right about the whole thing and he got flayed alive.
@Nom de Plume:
No. Next question.
John – there is no great shame in falling for a lie (although a little investigation would have exposed these lies – if only the press had bothered to help). The shame is that when presented with the lie refusing to admit you got taken in. The world would be so much better off if everyone of any importance in the debate – politicians, pundits, reports, bloggers – would admit they were wrong & examine how they could be so wrong & how they might try to avoid being taken in again.
I think you have done that pretty well, that makes you a better man.
Naw, this can’t be true. Judith “I-was-proved-fvcking-right” Miller said the WMDs were there. And she should know, since V.P. Dick “Dick” Cheney told her, then she told the world (and Cheney) via her lofty perch at the NYT. Justification for invasion provided, in seamless fashion! A perfect circle jerky – tasty Jerky of Truth, that is!
QED, and Booyah!
The question RonK asked in 2003:
Not a damned thing.
Nobody was held accountable for any of that, in any way. Maybe Powell, he kind of got laughed out of town. Nobody else.
I can honestly say that I knew it was all a lie and I was screaming it at anyone who would listen. Everyone thought I was unamerican to not be behind it. I read George Bush like the bad book that he is, he reminds me of my dad in so many ways. Perhaps that’s why I could see through him. I cried when he was elected and reelected. I knew how bad it was going to be.
@Stooleo: So did
I should have known better, you, not so much.
Cheers to you John for writing what you do now.
General Stuck (on self glorifiication)
I been took Snipe hunting, and have took others for same. But I never for a nanosecond believed a word of the canned bullshit the Bushies put out over invading Iraq. It started with the previous conclusive evidence the aluminum tubes could not be used as centrifuges, and went on down the rabbit hole of lies from there.
I remember being stuck in an epic traffic jam while listening to Colin Powell bullshit. When he began describing some satellite photos as strong evidence of “biological weapons facilities”, I nearly broke the steering wheel in exasperation that anyone could believe a whit of it. Then Bobo & Co. came on and described his presentation as “masterful”. That’s when I really lost it. I’m glad the cops clearing the accident were still a half mile down the road then.
Perhaps when talking about Iran the term WMD’s should be used. It might help remind some people about the first wild goose chase.
Let’s not forget that Ben Netanyau was telling the world that it was “1938” back in 2006.
Six years ago he was running the story that Iran was going to have a weapon any day.
I am convinced that an Israeli attack on Iran will spiral into WWIII.
I was in high school when Bush started beating the war drum. I went to a very liberal school and wanted to stand out. So I supported the war at first, along with my father, a man who turned against Vietnam in 1965. We both fell for all of the lies. I always had doubts, but I pushed them aside until it became clear that those WMDs were nowhere to be found.
My mother and my best friend saw right through Bush from the beginning. I wish I had listened to them. And I wish that I had listened to the nagging doubts in the back of my mind before we invaded a sovereign nation for no reason other than bullshit lies.
For the record, this is Maureen Dowd, in 2002:
Yeah, I know, bitch in fuck-me shoes. But she was right.
The Great Snipe Hunt was okay, but I’ve always thought that Dan Davies’ “One minute MBA: How to avoid projects pushed by morons” was more concise and general:
http://www.wordforge.net/showthread.php?t=66997 (the real one seems to have disappeared behind some sort of Blogger password wall)
No One of Consequence
I thought it was true because I am one of the rare species of American that maintains a little bit of memory from one year to the next.
Iraq and Iran had a little kerfuffle that killed lots of people. The DoD sold a few party favors to Iraq in the hopes that Our Dictator Saddam would use them against the Ayatollah and his followers.
Saddam did, but he also saved some for his own people and the Kurds.
I thought Iraq had WMD, but we didn’t need to send inspectors, as the Pentagon still had the receipts…
But, there you go. Murkah so fuggin’ brilliant we didn’t even bring along a throw-down. The evil did not surprise me — it was the incompetence and fucked-uped-ness…
It would be easier to be sympathetic to those that were taken in by the lie, but it’s not really so simple. You had Hans Blix and the rest of the UN weapons group – including Americans – refuting the lie. So not only were you taken in by the lie, but you actively discounted the evidence from the people who were in Iraq doing the inspecting. That goes well beyond falling for a tall tale.
I never bought into the whole Iraq mess, and recall watching many people justify it while I just felt it was going to go bad. Can’t feel arrogant though, because it’s a reminder of how smart people can do stupid things.
At least you admit your mistake.
What we need to do is learn and hold people responsible.
Ah, yes, Ashleigh Banfield. I used to link to this all the time in comments around the intertoobs, to show that there were at least a few media folks who just tried to do an honest job, and paid for it (Phil Donohue was another one). Then earlier this year, I saw that Ms. Banfield had lowered herself to do this sort of thing.
Now I’m just sad when her name comes up. But she still deserved props for doing right at a time when doing right was dealt with so harshly by the Media Powers-That-Be.
ETA: As a commenter at Atrios’ joint – a former college journalism instructor – used to say, In the Corporate State, the Corporate Media IS the State Media.
Do not forget that, nor your loyalty to the Fatherland, Comrades.
@Forum Transmitted Disease:
The lengths that ordinary people will go to in order to convince themselves that something is true in the face of contravening evidence are remarkable. As I recall, I thought that the UN inspectors were incompetent and that Saddam was hiding the weapons from them. No doubt, that was bad judgment. I suppose that being 17 may have had something to do with it; I was a lot more headstrong and stubborn then.
If a Republican wins the presidency, the new Curveball will be in the White House.
Eliminates the middle man.
I never believed the lie, and I started to think I was crazy because I simply did not see what was being pushed at me. I read all the accounts and simply did not see what was being touted at the time. I kept my mouth shut for the most part because the drumming for war was so loud.
Now, I am crazy, but not for that reason. Fuck this guy two hundred ways of Sunday.
Rereading Operation Desert Snipe as you recommended (excellent post, both CPs and yours, and kudos on coming around), it dawned on me what a subtly savvy move creating the DHS has proven:
Intelligence impacts are unavoidable. We won’t trust our own stuff … and that uncertainty will cost us dearly somewhere down the road. Foreign agencies won’t trust our stuff. Our several agencies won’t trust each other. Buckpassing antics, and the leakage that goes with them, will intensify. Local law enforcement won’t trust national intelligence. And we’ll think twice before paying retail for Israeli intel “product”.
How better to keep the intelligence agencies from investigating each other and uncovering how despicably wrong the intel on Iraq (and especially WMDs) proved to be, than to contain them all under a single umbrella department with a Cabinet-level official to
keep them in line and subservientmanage them?
I never believed the lies and never thought for a minute that I was going crazy either. It was clear as day that many of my fellow citizens were the ones going crazy. I remember thinking “well Fuck Me, this must be a small taste of what it was like back in the day to be living in a seemingly normal central European country and then to wake up one fine morning to find oneself surrounded by Good Germans”.
The Other Chuck
This guy masterminded the deaths of more Americans than Osama — to say nothing about the Iraqis killed (why start now?) Why isn’t he eating a drone missile?
A good friend of mine is a hardcore neoconservative (yes, they do still exist). He thinks that we won in Iraq. He also thinks that we should still beef up our military and act like an empire, invading Iran and whoever else we please. He told me once that in order to understand this way of thinking, you must realize that neocons view the Peloponnesian War as the great tragedy of western history. That they are constantly trying to save Athens, and they see America as the new Athens.
I thought this line of reasoning was weird and wrong, but I didn’t press him at the time. I should have, though. Because Athens might well have won that war or at least fought Sparta to a draw if they hadn’t attacked Syracuse, which is exactly the same kind of hubristic imperial overreach that neocons want the US to be doing right now.
@sharl: I was going to say turn off the corporate media, but you say it so much better.
BTW everyone, C Powell didn’t know he lied to the UN til later. He refers to it as a stain on his record.
the fugitive uterus
and i will never ever forget watching Paul Wolfowitz sitting there saying the Iraqi oil reserves will pay for all of it, with my jaw on the floor. and i knew we were done for.
I never fell for it and I don’t know why. Maybe because I was firmly convinced George Bush was a moron from day one. I was convinced that we would not go to war because the reasoning was so frivolous. The inspectors who had been in Iraq for years were saying there were no weapons there because they had been dismantled. The whole thing was BS from start to finish. The only thing which surprises me is that if I knew this, and I am definitely not rocket science material, how come so many sane people got taken in.
the fugitive uterus
@asiangrrlMN: i felt exactly the same. i actually, at one point, did begin to question my sanity because i was the only one running around with my hair on fire, everybody else shaking their heads in dismay
the fugitive uterus
i didn’t even look at Colin Powell’s bomb-trailer cartoons. i mean, srsly?
Will Repubs come out now and apologize for the mess called “Iraqi Freedom”? And the spineless Dems who supported that war?
its a real cope-out to make a big deal out of this guy’s lies. He could never have succeeded if bushco wasn’t looking for someone to spew the nonsense needed to do what they were going to do anyway.
Everyone’s failure isn’t falling for “Curveball’s” lies, its falling for bushco’s manipulation of this and all the dialogue of the times.
Eight years in the wilderness will do things to people. No excuses. But she, and Donohue, did the right thing at the right time.
And paid the price.
What a surprise! it was a lie!
Watching Rumsfeld and Powell in action told me that it was 90 percent lies in real time. How could a grown up watch Rumsfeld presenting his pre-invasion press briefings believe a word of those sub Kindergarten performances?
I do not see why Curveball needs to defend himself, particularly. He wanted to get rid of a ruthless dictator that ran his country. He used the means made available to him. He had taken no oath to perform lawful duties to govern a country, and was operating in a state of nature, from his point of view.
Too bad the US and UK Very Serious People (Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair, etc.) cannot do the same. I watched the shameful Rumsfeld interview with al Jazeera (I think that as the organization) where the arrogant racist war criminal could not go a tenth as far as this Curveball guy.
the fugitive uterus
after 911, the nation went into a deep hypnosis of illogical fear and obsession that we alone were the only people in the world who had ever experienced terrorism, on any level, in the history of mankind.
so you just keep twirling the little Twin Towers amulet . . .
@sharl: Maybe Banfield could make a few morning ‘prank calls’ to Rumsfeld, Bush Jr., Powell, Blair, Rice, her ex boss, and etc.
I’m not so concerned that Banfield’s return is low grade TV, since not sure it is any lower than what is usually on, and right now, no war at stake.
It was a lie, most people knew it, and this Iraqi con artist is not the culprit here. The culprit is the elite of the western nationsm, especially the USA and its tame upper-class toads in England. And the American people, who had a duty to fucking know better and scorned it for USA Fuck Ya!, pass the coke and dorritos.
What would be a reasonable attitude to adopt towards the nations who committed these horrific crimes? Any volunteers here?
The Soviets were on the right side of history after all.
IMHO, the crimes of the US and UK officials are far greater than those of Curveball, so that explains why they cannot admit anything, besides the fact that admitting that they ever did a single thing wrong or made a single mistake is not in their natures.
If 9/11 never happened, would we have even gone to war in Iraq?
Now, I am not a Truther and I’m not saying that the GOP and Bush and Cheney knew it would happen and ignored it to sell the war. But I think the timing was what basically shut journalism down and made everyone more pro-war than they would have been otherwise.
I remember the day Powell spoke to the UN very well. I listened to the speech driving to work in the rain in Seattle. I was against the war talk from the get-go, as I was against the VIet Nam war decades before.
I bought Powell’s speech hook, line, and sinker. It was Powell, for Christ’s sake….the man was infallible and level headed. THe rest of the gang in the administration were crazy…..but Powell? He HAD to be right.
From that point on until about a year later when it was clear that we weren’t going to find WMD I supported the war.
I was wrong also. THere are a lot of us out here….
Don’t you mean ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) rather than DHS? That was the new position they created, the description for which is basically “super-czar of the intelligence community.”
That’s odd, because I always thought the neocons identified more with Sparta than with Athens. Warrior-society, etc. Maybe it’s different for neocons, who fancy themselves “intellectuals” while the rest of the conservative movement spits at the label.
The first people that Curveball approached, if I recall correctly, were the Germans, and they saw through his bullshit pretty much right away.
I saw Colin Powell’s presentation to the UN Security Council all those years ago, on the telly. Again and again, he’d put up some weak-sauce argument, based on pitifully thin evidence — nothing that came within a mile of challenging the UN inspectors’ findings. Then he would keep repeating, “What else can it be?”. I came away convinced that the entire W Bush Administration had not made its case for war, and that it (Powell included) was caught up in a collective delusion.
The Bushies believed what they wanted to believe, despite the evidence on the ground; or they peddled a transparent pack of lies. They got their war, they got to depose Saddam. But aside from that, all they did was damage the US’ good name for sensible leadership in world affairs and its influence in the Middle East.
MoDo is too prudish to wear F-me heals.
“I never believed the lies and never thought for a minute that I was going crazy either. It was clear as day that many of my fellow citizens were the ones going crazy. I remember thinking “well Fuck Me, this must be a small taste of what it was like back in the day to be living in a seemingly normal central European country and then to wake up one fine morning to find oneself surrounded by Good Germans”.”
Pretty much. That’s one of the main reasons I started blogging.
That said: it was easy for me, because I had been following the Kurds, in a desultory fashion, for a while, and you can’t follow the Kurds without following Iraq, and as a result I had enough background knowledge to know that a lot of what people were saying about Iraq was just laughable. (“Enough”, in this case, wasn’t a whole lot.) That made it a lot easier to doubt the rest of what they said.
The whole experience of being in this country from, oh, 2002-2004 really made me think: there’s *a lot* to be said for having a basic knowledge of different parts of the world *before* what people say about those parts gets politicized. If there’s anything that counts as the reason I didn’t believe that stuff, I think that knowing the basics about Iraq, rather than any particular acuity or good judgment of mine, is it.
I love you John Cole, but I simply can’t understand how anyone with an ounce of brains fell fir any of that bullshit. The minute BushCo. started beating the drum against Iraq instead of al Qaida, I knew what was coming and knew immediately that it would be a disaster. All that “evidence” was the most ludicrous garbage that I almost laughed at Powell’s shameful display until I remembered what a disaster it was going to be. I couldn’t believe everyone falling for it. I reasoned, talked, wept, and screamed to get people to listen to me. I got a little hysterical there in the days just before the launch. I lost friends forever over it. I cried all day the day they started bombing. And all I got for my trouble was being called a DFH and a Fifth Columnist. And the satisfaction of knowing I was right as right can be. As if I wouldn’t trade that for none of it ever happening in the first place. Being right isn’t enough next to all the dead and maimed
and all the treasure wasted. Truly the most horrible days of my life. I’ve never despaired like I did then, not even during my parents’ death throes. I still can’t believe it.
the fugitive uterus
well, i was older, and i’m just a southern gal, but i was raised to question political authority and insipient propaganda. and i became better informed because i had to turn away from traditional media and start getting my news on the internets
There’s a reason why world opinion outside of the U.S. (and possibly Israel, I didn’t check) was so unanimously against the war, regardless of whether the country they came from was left wing or right wing, allied with the U.S. or hostile, democratic or not, etc. To believe that shit, you had to either want the war or be hooked into a media system that’s been feeding you alternate reality for so long you can’t tell the difference.
I was still hooked into the alternate reality at the time, so I’m not being smug about this. But yeah, Iraq was one egregious demonstration of how much a huge part of America lives in its own little bubble and can’t recognize reality when it bites them on the ass.
I like the way you think! Of course, you do know how the rightie bloggers would respond to that, don’t you? It would be much like their response to the freedom-hating NYT feature writer who authored a story in the weekend Travel Section, about the Maryland (Eastern Shore) second homes of Rumsfeld and Cheney. Apparently the reporter contacted these two Prime Neocons in advance, did everything above board, didn’t slink around, etc. Didn’t matter. At the risk of being the target of rotten fruit and bricks, I’ll link to a pre-Salon post by Glenn Greenwald on what happened (look at Update-III to see wingnut “charm” in full flower).
Let’s be clear about something; there was no justification for invading Iraq whether or not this individual was telling the truth. The country was crippled by decades of war and sanctions and there was an inspection regime in place. The bar for making war is very high, at least for decent people, and the pathetic little bit of theater acted out by Powell at the UN, even if all true, didn’t come within a thousand feet of clearing it. Bush and co. are murderers regardless of the reliability of the intelligence they used to justify their criminal enterprise. Just so we’re clear.
@Nom de Plume: Or hours without one. That’s my problem with Charles Pierce, who I now consider the greatest friggin’ blogger on the planet. Nothing for hours or even days, and then six posts out of nowhere.
Neocons like to think of themselves as more intellectual and high-minded than Sparta. Warrior poets or something. Sparta was, after all, an oligarchy, while Athens invented democracy. Part of the neoconservative philosophy is that America can do what Athens did not: spread democracy across the world through military force. Being a neocon means accepting the idea that democracy is the best possible form of government and can work anywhere.
You know what? Athens failed because of the Athenians, not because of the Spartans. And neither city should be considered anything close to a model for modern society.
the fugitive uterus
I did trust the team that said there was no evidence of wmd, and i never believed the lies. I recall endless conversations with a friend on Sundays over a mid-day meal, where we tried to discern whether colon Powell was being duped, and actually believed what he was selling, or whether he knew those were lies that he was telling.
I was horror stricken, with an overwhelming sense of dread, the day the troops marched toward Baghdad.
Bush, Gore, no difference. Right.
Somebody bitched at Cole in his “it’s Saturday and I am a hot mess” post, saying not knowing what you want for dinner doesn’t make you a hot mess. Well, this country is a hot mess, and when I read about lies told to get us to go to war, then and now, and transvaginal probes, and the ficking supreme court saying we can strip search over a parking ticket or a peaceful protest, and republican governors busting unions and the catholic church trying to impose their religion on all of us, I alternate between rage and discouragement, frustration and resolve.
Walter Pincus wrote some excellent pieces about Iraq’s weapons in the Washington Post. His own paper wrote editorials in favor of war, war, war. After all 9/11 changed everything.
the fugitive uterus
just goes to show how easily the nation would fall for a little theater and a codpiece
And that’s why more and more I’m amazed that Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television got so much of the analysis right so many decades ago.
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Me, too.
And then again, if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (as defined by Bush and Cheney, not as defined by professionals), so what? It isn’t as if he had the wherewithal to fling WMDs at us. There was no need to invade Iraq to defend the US.
The whole damned thing was pointless. It just ruined any possibility of doing any good with our invasion of Afghanistan (which wasn’t necessary either, but was easier to justify).
It’s worth re-reading what Obama had to say on 10/26/2002…it was the first speech of his I ever read.
It’s too bad that the military spent more time playing Iraq War Games in the summer of 2001 instead of hunting down Al Qaeda but guess you have to prepare for all possibilities. 9/11 was an excuse to bomb, bomb, bomb.
@sharl: I don’t recall the lib media Rummy and Cheney addressgate scandal. But whether that was done ‘above board’ or not, a reporter challenging them would definitely more justifiable in my opinion. But you are correct, the reaction would be just as ferocious.
Tim in SF
He fooled a lot of people. But not everyone: Those of us on the left were screaming loudly and clearly that it was all a hoax. I was listening to Randi Rhodes daily at the time, and she took down every single assertion, fake fact, and other claim that was used to justify the invasion and subsequent occupation.
I wish Christopher Hitchers were still alive to respond to this. I loved to listen to that man talk, but his rah-rah-rah cheerleading in the Iraq war was always such a turnoff. He doubled down year after year.
Atrios noticed Walter Pincus’ good reporting fairly early on. He also noticed something else (bolding is mine):
I wish the old Haloscan comments existed somewhere in searchable form. Folks over there used to track what page Pincus’ stories showed up on. ‘Pincus is on page 8! Go, Walter, go, you might make it to page 1 before retirement!’ Stuff like that.
Ya laugh so ya won’t cry…
Oh, it’s much worse than you falling for Curveball, JC. You didn’t even know about Curveball, so how could you be fooled?
No, you believed Dubya. You looked into his stupid, beady eyes and thought he was telling the truth. And that makes you a horrible judge of character.
Yes you now run an intelligent, respectable blog, have changed teams, etc. But at one time you thought George W Bush was an honest, honorable man. And all those opposing the war were traitors. And for that I still have a can of Fuck You in my cupboard, just in case we ever meet.
(And you still don’t write as much as you used to. Which I miss. Because I am, in the end, a fan.)
@hilzoy: My experience, too. Milton Viorst wrote a series of Middle Eastern travel pieces for the New Yorker a few years before, which I had read. Just the bit of knowledge I gained from that told me that, e.g., Saddam the Ba’athist was not tied in with hyperreligious Saudis like al Qaeda.
Oh hell no! They will claim that Obama dropped the ball, that everything was going swimmingly until the Dems took over. And half this fucking country is stupid enough to believe it.
@ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I wish I had that much self-confidence back then. I just thought I was missing something. If it happened now, I would definitely think the rest of the country was insane, not me.
@the fugitive uterus: I did, too. At some point, I realized I was right and that the rest of the country was wrong. That didn’t really make me feel better, though.
I”m so old, I didn’t buy the justification for the FIRST gulf war, and I was IN the reserves at the time. I CERTAINLY never believed the lies of Bush the lesser.
For everyone who found it obvious: there were smart, good, and decent people who didn’t. I just went off looking for one of Andy Olmsted’s early posts, in which he tried to make a case against invading Iraq. Unfortunately, most of his blog seems to have vanished, which I hate. Still: he told me (much later, we didn’t know each other back in 2002) that he wrote it because going to war was so serious that he had to work through all the best arguments against it in order to arrive at the point where he could support it. And since he and/or people he knew were likely to have to serve, I don’t think anyone could say that it was just a theoretical issue to him.
He didn’t accept his own best stab at arguing against the war. He was really worried about the possibility that Saddam might give WMD to terrorists, who would use it against us. (Here is where a working knowledge of Saddam, acquired before every discussion of Saddam became politicized, comes in handy.) He had what I think is an unjustified but not incomprehensible belief that we could make things better rather than worse. But he also was not willing, without very serious provocation, to conclude that our government was just flat-out lying. Or, more precisely: the idea that government officials might exaggerate, or even tell lies on small issues, was not (iirc) something he had a problem with, but the idea that they might just make up *the entire rationale for a war*, make it up out of whole cloth, was not something he was prepared to believe without very good evidence.
I wouldn’t like to believe it *without good evidence* either. I thought I had good evidence for the claim that whether or not Saddam Hussein had WMD, we didn’t know about it, and I also saw no reason to believe that he could or wanted to use those WMD on the US. I also believed, I hope for good reason, that Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld had shown themselves willing to lie through their teeth in the past, so my threshold for thinking they’d do it again was lower. So, obviously, I disagreed with him.
But I was never willing to say he was just being stupid, etc., because he wasn’t. And besides, what he believed about his government *is what ought to be true*, and when someone believes it and it’s not true, the abiding shame is on those who made it false.
What I am absolutely clear about is that we should never again allow ourselves to go to war without so much as listening to the other side. People who thought the Iraq war was a good idea are not, to me, the problem. People who ridiculed opponents of the Iraq war who were, in fact, ridiculous aren;t either. (And surely some opponents of the Iraq war were ridiculous, just as some supporters of it were. It would be pretty strange if that weren’t true.) But the people who ridiculed opponents of the war *just for opposing the war*, who made us out to be treasonous fifth-columnists and objectively pro-Saddam and America-haters and people who just wanted to coddle poor little Osama bin Laden and make him feel better and all that — they have a lot to answer for.
Curveball couldn’t have given 2 shits about Saddam. He was a paid agent of Iran and his job was to get the most powerful opponent of Iran broken into pieces so that the could take control of the southern third and Iraq could never threaten them again.
We (more correctly the douchebags of the Boy Blunder admin) got suckered into making Iran the most powerful force in the Gulf because their brains were 6 inches below their belly buttons. They got played.
Here’s a guy who argues the US should attack Iran precisely to forestall that possibility. I doubt he’s the only one thinking along those lines, unfortunately.
Yes. Boy Blunder and His Super Friends were determined & would have built a case no matter what. It might have taken more work, it might not have happened as soon but they would have made it happen. 9/11 just made it a lot easier.
I’m not a full on dirty hippy, as I believe there can be justifiable reasons to invade another country (humanitarian crises etc), but the rationales and justifications for Iraq were pretty damn thin. I just felt like proponents never really dealt with the fact that inspectors had combed over that place like crazy hadn’t found anything other than missiles with greater than allowed range. It was just “Well, the UN sucks so that’s why they haven’t found anything” and “The fact that they haven’t found anything only proves how dangerous and full of devious wiles Saddam is!”
I never believed it from the beginning, but that may only be because, a week or so after 9/11 I was speaking with an old lacrosse buddy that worked in DC and he stated quite emphatically that I should watch closely because the folks on the right would use it to invade Iraq. He told me all about PNAC and how they had been advocating a grand plan to reshape the middle east which for various reasons started with toppling Iraq. He also told me who the folks were in this organization including Cheney. So from the beginning I had a reason to be skeptical, and as time went by and the people my buddy alerted me to started appearing more and more often with alarming claims about the dangers Iraq posed I simply became more suspicious. Then it took very little research to find out how many people like Richard Clarke there were out there. That also allowed for a little common sense, like asking myself even if Hussein had chemical and biological weapons he would certainly not use them himself, and there isn’t a lot of chance he would share them with anyone, because if he were ever found out he knew it would end up with him dead. His actions never showed him to be insane, just a run of the mill tyrant. Of course had I not been alerted early, would I have been more amenable to the BS the Bushies were pushing?
And once again the dirty effin’ hippies were right.
I remember arguing with a Bushie that invading Iraq would be like opening Pandora’s box, and I told him I could sum it up in one word.
This dope said “that shows how stupid you are. Yugoslavia isn’t anywhere near I-raq.
When I told him that Yugoslavia no longer existed and that it collapsed into a series if civil wars and genocide he said “And you have Reagan to thank for that. He took down the Commie bear.”
Republicans. They just can’t help themselves. They were born scared and stupid.
That’s what I kept running into, also. Every piece of evidence I saw pointed to Saddam not actually having anything much at all, but people were so whipped up into hysteria that they decided that there must be fire if the Bush administration was generating so much smoke.
Online, at least, the people who still piss me off are the ones who were originally taken in by the bullshit but are now progressiver-than-thou and insist that they’re the only ones who know the real truth. Listen, assholes, if you were stupid and/or naive enough to believe Boy Blunder and Rumsfeld, you don’t now get to tell those of us who were smarter than you that you know better than us about, well, anything. Sit down, shut the fuck up, and listen to other people for a change.
Chet, it would probably prevent WWIII if the US attacked Israel instead. An attack on Iran could easily end oil shipment from the Gulf for months if not longer. The pain that will cause in the rest of the world (forget about the turmoil here) will cause a lot of nations to turn against the US. Iran can win without ever actually firing a shot at the US. If we start down that path I think we will have to invade & kill an awful lot of people in order to get the oil to flow again. At which point the world will see us as the naked aggressor and an international pariah.
BUT BUT BUT RAPE ROOMS!!!
Yeah, I’m pretty sure a lot of them just didn’t give a shit one way or another. For a lot of people, most of them on the other side of the aisle, it was perfectly simple: Fucking Hajjis attacked us on 9/11, and we had to get even. Iraqis were Fucking Hajjis, and we’d already been to war with them once, so, nuff said.
@Schlemizel: Thanks. I forgot about that angle. I have not followed the story in enough detail to be familiar with evidence that Curveball was (is?) an Iranian agent. If so, at least he did his job. Better than Bush Jr. and Blair.
Thanks for posting that. I read it several years ago but it’s good to be reminded.
Speaking of Iranian intelligence assets – or at least, allies of convenience – what’s Ahmed Chalabi doing these days? Whatever it is, I’m sure exchanges of large sums of cash are involved.
I hope that Chalabi and the Iranian government sent the finest Hallmark Get Well card to Mr. Cheney after his recent heart installation. Mr. Cheney and his PNAC pals were soooo useful to those folks. Too bad about all the corpses, maiming; very yucky. Good thing our media protects us from that sort of thing!
@Tim in SF: Hitchens clearly and repeatedly emphasized that the important thing was to get the killer Saddam Hussein out of power and strike a blow for civilization against barbarism.
Hitchens would have likely argued that the suggestion that a ‘Curveball’ and immediately threatening WMD’s would be necessary in order to justify the West getting off its ass and doing what good people ought to have done etc is the insult.
Of course, Hitchens was comfortable with flat-out lying as well, continuing to publicly act and speak as if the laughably faked scheme to obtain yet more shitty yellowcake uranium from a French-private-owned nuclear site in the middle of landlocked Niger and presumably having to drive 500 tons of this shitty low-grade uranium across the thousands of miles of Northern Africa to, maybe a port, and sailing past the US Navy to Iraq, all to avoid the UN-UK ‘No Fly + Missile Strikes At Any Time’ Zone, and which were reported on in the French press at the time of when actual Iraqi officials met in Niger vs the Italian security-provided forgeries, while Iraq had already had tens of thousands of TONS of yellowcake for decades, were a real and important threat.
Any cheap son of a bitch who pretends to be a public intellectual but tries to speak about that asshole fairytale as though it were real doesn’t give a shit about real arguments, just using his old knowledge of leftist movements to know that The Cause justifies any amount of lying, as some particular Old Left movements were known to hold.
To me the post invasion handling of Iraq is much more of a crime than the run up to the invasion. Bremer, having 25 year old former college Republicans trying to put together an Iraqi government and rebuild their civil society, disbanding the army and police, de-Baathification, and maybe most of all our complete lack of a strategy for beating the insurgency from 03-the surge. Cheney was quoted in an interview saying they thought there’d be mile markers and that with each day the insurgents would see they were losing and start to give up. That was it. That was our strategy, hoping that they would give up. We had no idea why they were fighting us and our grand strategy was just to wait things out and hope it went away.
General Stuck (on self glorifiication)
It was not only did they find nothing, from the list of prime locations to inspect, given to them by the US government, and cited by Powell in his Security Council spiel. It was that they also found cobwebs, lots of cobwebs, indicating the Iraqi’s hadn’t used the facilities for years.
And as a last gesture, Saddam agreed to triple the number of inspectors and include several spy aircraft from the US and France as an exclamation point on them having nothing going on with WMD. But as some of us suspected, the fuckers had already made the decision to take out Saddam the year before, and had only played along with the UN at Powell’s request, the Bushies told the inspectors to leave cause they were gonna kick ass and invade, no matter the evidence, and no matter they had agreed to a second UN vote. That was an international crime, at that point, and I almost blew a gasket and worried about a visit by the FBI from screaming on the phone with a Senator Domenici staffer, that they were fucking up.
proud that I never fell for it
And who knows, Mr. Cole? Maybe someday you’ll realize that you also ought not to have continued supporting Obama after he executed American citizens without trial. Even if he was a Democrat.
@efgoldman: You were supposed to unlearn all that skepticism due to how awesome Desert Storm was.
I didn’t believe it for a second and the hub and I had been Bushies. (There is no atonement great enough, but I am deeply sorry for that.) It was just so obvious that the whole thing was a put up job to accomplish the PNAC agenda. We were running around with our hair on fire trying to tell people and got called traitors and drama queens as a result.
If you really want to cry, read We Meant Well<, an ex-diplomat’s story of “re-building” Iraq during The Surge. It’s just horrendously depressing. In a black humor kind of way.
Well, I was combing through youtube trying to find out whether Powell actually raised the British white paper that “chronicled” Sadam’s sins or just referred to it. I couldn’t wade through his entire presentation again.
Within 24 hours of his speech, that paper was proved to be a plagiarized version of some US student’s master’s thesis, from the early ’90s, with evidence stopping at the early 90s. Within a week, almost every point Powell made was refuted with credible evidence.
Then we have Schwarzkopf and everyone else referring to Powell’s high tech presentation…high tech…high tech…high tech…USA…USA…USA. Are you kidding me? It was a Powerpoint presentation. Had I had the the pics and graphics readily available, it would have taken me about forty minutes to produce. Had I had to produce the diagrammatic graphics of the “reputed” mobile chem labs, it might have taken an entire day. That anyone fell for that shit is remarkable (not in a good way) and unforgivable.
All the information we got was bullshit, and quite obvious bullshit.
@dms: The high-tech was the small bottle of McCormick’s Freshly Ground Fake Anthrax, UN Flavor.
@El Cid: You’re right. That was a particularly persuasive touch.
I figured there were some WMD, mainly because I figured we sold them to them. But I was dead set against from go. War of choice is always evil no matter how good the intentions.
The fix for Iraq was in the second Bush got elected. Anyone who thought otherwise wasn’t (or didn’t want to) paying attention. Anyone could see this from the constantly shifting excuses. PNAC was all the background that was necessary to know the writing on the wall. 911 just made it much easier. But they still would have gone for it anyway.
I was skeptical back @ Iraq 1, when a Kuwaiti customer of mine told me he would be happy when ‘you Americans’ make it safe for him to return. He was a part of the Kuwaiti embassy corps. I knew then the good ol’ USA was covering its ass about something. Going into Afghanistan was another tip-off that there was bullshit afoot- ‘Graveyard of Empires’ and suchlike. The ‘Niger yellowcake’ farce, and subsequent lies and distractions iced the cake. Now I get to see not just the demeaning of the US on a wold level, but the wreckage of our returning vets. I am not proud to be an American, and I am a disabled vet. My service, and so many others, seems to have been misused and usurped for vile means. I can see a similarity with the returning Nazi troops, the regular line grunts and cannon-fodder, after WW2. They, too, bought the lie, the ‘dream’, of greatness and invincibility, of righteousness and destiny. They came home to a shattered nation, payback for their follies. Now we, too, have a shattered nation, in modern terms, and it is the result of our collective foolishness and delusion.
I dont understand this. How does it matter what he or anyone says; dont you(as in our govt) do due deligence no matter what, especially for conservatives(Bush and other self proclaimed patriots) who think nation building is not the way to go:
1) Is it true that SH has some weapons that may harm US?
2) If 1 is true, does he *want* to harm US? (keep in mind that SH was enemy for Osama Bin Laden; making him an indirect ally).
3) If 1 and 2 are true, is it advisable to go to War or we should prefer to do what we did with North Korea, who has WMDs?
4) If its true that SH has WMDs and he wants to get rid of free America, how much will it cost to go war and how do we fund it(tax increases?)?
5) If he did have WMDs, why would he not use it on our Army and wipe us out?
6)What happens to Al Quida in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq?
7) If we still go to war, will this destablize the region and may involve us in war for many years, which would be bad for our country/economy?
Of course, if you ask any of these(or related) questions, you are a traitor and dont love America and you are not a real American.
Just to add, I didnt care if SH had WMDs. So what?
Israel does; we do; so does NK, India and China etc. If you dont want others to have what you have, get in line, especially if others are no threat to you.
If Iraq had WMDs and we knew it, we would have never gone to war with Iraq. He would have wiped us clean…
It’s too bad RonK went all PUMA in 2007 and 2008.
Yeah, you fell for it, but the problem wasn’t you falling for it. The problem was the number of people who were willing to push it even when they knew it was false.
Condaleeza Rice claimed that the Iraqis were getting aluminum tubes to build centrifuges, even though she knew, or should have known, that they were unfit for centrifuges, and which the Iraqis could show were being used to reverse engineer rockets. There were news stories that pointed this out, but there was a big, loud echo chamber insisting that the rocketry story was bogus, and they had to be for centrifuges.
President Bush claimed that British Intelligence believed something, even though US intelligence had debunked it (and he therefore knew, or should have known, it was bullshit), and his supporters still back him on this, because he did say *British* intelligence! Plus, the Iraqis did say they wanted to “expand trade relations, nudge nudge wink wink”, and really, that’s the same thing as an attempt to make a specific purchase!
That’s the problem with Republicans right now. It’s not the individuals who believe in bullshit. It’s the lack of leadership to call bullshit, and the large number of supporters who will support the bullshit.
I had my own moment of this. I was following the negotiations for the final resolution on Iraq in the security council. The council was voting on a resolution that quite clearly did not have an automatic war trigger, one that *explicitly* said that the Security Council will meet again to decide what to do if Iraq is found to be out of compliance. The moment it was signed, administration officials (and the newspapers reporting on them) declared America had the right to invade if Saddam misbehaved – the exact opposite of what the negotiations had decided. I thought *I* had to be confused – it couldn’t be that everyone else had gone crazy! But, alas, it was.
It happens. It’s hard to resist. There’s a quote I love (I’ve seen it attributed to Anatole France) about how, during the inquisition, the position of sound moderation was that one should not burn *too many* heretics, and only wild radicals suggested one shouldn’t burn any.
@Ajay: Exactly, we would”t have staged half of the Army and the Marines in Kuwait well within striking distance of Sadam”s missiles if they had the capabilities we said they had. Reacall that Tony Blair said Iraq could carry out attacks within 45 minutes.
I fell for the lie too. I just didn’t believe that Colin Powell would lie and lie and lie. The evidence he presented in the UN seemed weak, but I assumed (Stupid me!) that the real evidence of WMDs was just too highly classified to show in public.
What a fucking idiot I was.
On the other hand, the instant it became clear that there were no WMDs I started to yell loudly for Americans troops to get the fuck out of Iraq NOW.
That doesn’t excuse my grotesque gullibility and appalling stupidity, though.
Absolutely THIS. And I’m glad you brought up the shifting excuses bit, in the run up to the occupation. At the time, that ‘marketing campaign’ reminded me of the recently concluded successful campaign to pass GWB’s ruinous tax cut plan, during which they threw every piece of shit they had against the wall, in hopes that enough of it would stick. Well, plenty of the Villagers were happy to buy the nonsense once, why NOT try it again? And yep, it worked again.
Of course it helped that most of the Villagers benefited from the tax cuts – and most wannabe Villagers went along, in expectation of their turn at the trough – and of course the Villagers and their progeny would not pay the price for the Unnecessary Adventure that was Iraq.
I just checked out the PNAC website. No updates since about 2006, AFAICT. Reminds me of the scene in Aliens (the second one), where the Marine Expeditionary Force comes across an empty crab-like exoskeleton formerly occupied by a larval-stage creature. Feels like PNAC long ago matured in, and rudely departed through the rib cage of, the U.S. Body Politic.
What a world of hurt, especially for the Iraqis and our misused troops.
I really have no idea — outside what people really wanted to believe — why people made up all this bullshit to themselves about what a magical, honorable figure Colin Powell was. Really? You didn’t have to hate the guy — but what on Earth made him such an unjustified hero to people?
Thanks for reminding me of that old RonK Seattle blog post. It was a rubicon crossing moment in my political awareness. Never been the same since.
@Elisabeth: I disagree. I don’t know why he allowed himself to be used by the Bush admin in this way. All I can think is he took the “serve at the pleasure of the President” idea just a little too far. But I don’t think it says more about you than about him that you trusted a once trust-worthy man.
The Thin Black Duke
@El Cid: Exactly.
Colin Powell is a shameless sock puppet of a soldier who’s real good at “just following orders”.
Remember My Lai?
Its strange, it must be my upbringing; I dont trust anyone implicitly, especially those who say “Trust Me”.
People who claim they are fair and balanced, dont need to advertise it; the actions are always what one needs to look at. Never trust those who want to scare you. Even if they are right, they are not someone you want in that role.
Hell, I am not going to trust Obama if he presented the same info as what we did in 2003.
I think Fox should interview this guy and have a rebuttal from Bush. That would be Fair and Balanced.
I bet none of our Lib media will go near that guy.
Eric the Infrequent
First, thank you for your blogging Hilzoy. It became a major part of my personal evolution and I just wanted you to know that it made a difference.
I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the beginning, even though I found it reasonable that Saddam might have ‘WMDS’ (oh how I hate that term and the fact that we can’t discuss this without it), what I always found entirely implausible was the image of Saddam as the slavering anti-american muslim zealot. More than anything that was lacking in evidence, this was it. Given that he’d had his teeth kicked in a decade previously when he miscalculated US response and Afghanistan had had just been leveled, the only possible reason for Saddam to give Al-Quaeda a weapon to use against the US would be religious fanaticism because it would absolutely ensure his death and the destruction of his country. Yet he never once showed himself to be that. Power hungry, brutal dictator? Yes. Suicidal fanatic? Not even remotely. I never could get past that disconnect with reality.
@The Thin Black Duke: Even if you knew nothing about his role in cleanwashing My Lai, who on Earth goes rushing off to believe whatever military officer is thrown out in public to use secret evidence to justify some enormous foreign policy endeavor?
What part of that does not set off lots of alarm bells in the mildly conscious citizen?
Who in the world would not suddenly want to become extra aware of how such a mild yet seemingly admirable figure cutting sharp in a military uniform might improperly influence one’s citizenship-obligated judgment?
Over here in Aus, my son and I watched CNN (i know, I wasn’t reading blogs at that stage) and we said NO WAY! IF all the bs was true about WMD’s why put so many persons in harms way?
Have a great deal of respect for those that have been willing to come around and see the lies for what they were. Pretty sad that current executive is so gung ho on ‘looking forward and not backward’. Means, can’t believe a thing they say, really.
And we all know that the small brain only has a one track thought process and is not too bright even then.
They were born scared and stupid.
I thought they were born stupid and that caused them to be scared of everything.
I imagine it’s 6 of one half dozen of the other.
Honestly, John, I think your mea culpa a few years back sets the standard. The cover-my-ass ones from many media figures (Richard Cohen, McArdle) infuriate me.
I’m not as inclined to blame people for initially believing Bush, Cheney, Powell and all the rest. It’s not unreasonable to think that major elected officials wouldn’t lie about something as important as going to war. (Michael Moore’s said much the same thing – you should be able to trust your president.) But even if one thought the war gang was sincere, it still leaves a necessary question – what if they’re wrong? What I do blame people for is having such a low threshold for war, and not demanding that Bush, Cheney and Powell make their case much, much more strongly than they did. I blame them for not noticing the constant shift in rationales. I blame them for the bloodlust and McCarthyism towards skeptics. I blame them for not knowing more basic history about Iraq and America’s involvement in the region, which would have set off major alarms that the case for war was bullshit. (Hilzoy covers this and much more very well upthread.) Obviously, the media played a major role in all this, too. Finally, I’m concerned that some of the same people who should know better are uncritically lapping up the saber-rattling on Iran.
pseudonymous in nc
It ought to be considered, therefore, how vain are the faith and promises of those who find themselves deprived of their country. For, as to their faith, it has to be borne in mind that anytime they can return to their country by other means than yours, they will leave you and look to the other, notwithstanding whatever promises they had made you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is the extreme desire in them to return home, that they naturally believe many things that are false and add many others by art, so that between those they believe and those they say they believe, they fill you with hope, so that relying on them you will incur expenses in vain, or you undertake an enterprise in which you ruin yourself….. A Prince, therefore, ought to go slowly in undertaking an enterprise upon the representations of an exile, for most of the times he will be left either with shame or very grave injury.
Since he wrote that in the early 1500s, it’s fair to say that people have been caught up in that pathology for a long time.
pseudonymous in nc
And in retrospect, I think my scepticism was helped by a) not being in the US for most of the warmongering; b) “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
It was a supremely marketed war.
This is sort of OT but a comment above about the Iran/Iraq war made me think of it.
I’ve been watching the Iran Contra hearings. I’ve never really understood it and I love a good hearing.
Anyway, if someone wanted to do an effective anti-Iran war commercial, clips from those hearings would do quite nicely. There’s all this “selling arms to Iran is no big damn deal” and “we have to talk to Iran, super important country and we need to bring them in the fold because DUH there’s just a few extremists” and some very nice parts about the freedom fighters in Afghanistan and how we’re helping them too, just like the Contras, because, freedom fighters are GREAT. Add a few things about how “OMG! Nicaragua is the first domino — in three years there’ll be Commie death squads in Texas!” Top it off with clips from the Iraq run up and then some recent drumming about evil Iran.
Thinking back to all the crap that happened in those days leading up to the Iraq invasion is like searching for ticks on a long-haired dog after a long walk in the tall grass; you just keep on finding the bad memories.
From a WGBH/Frontline time line covering Rummy’s life and career arc, here’s part of the 2001 entry (bolding is mine):
Well, things were never all that great between the Clinton White House and the Pentagon since the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu – Black Hawk downing and all that – but a lot of the Pentagon crowd also bought into the Arkansas Project lies. And those are folks who, while often politically conservative, are usually known to be somewhat grounded in reality; they have to be, since they can’t do their jobs if they are acting like Fox Nooz wackaloons.
There was plenty of naivete and wishful thinking to go around.
Villago Delenda Est
These idiots can’t even read the historical examples right. Thucydides called this one two millenia ago.
Of course, these are the same morons who think 300 was some sort of documentary, what with these Spartans screaming about “freedumb” and being terribly homoerotic but not in that San Francisco sort of way, if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge.
I concur with WJS, ease up on yrself.The number of duped cheerleaders doing the appropriate Mea Culpa can be listed on 1 hand with several digits left over-a VERY small set.
The Crafty Trilobite
There are unfortunate links between “Curveball” and Iranian intelligence. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001935950_iranchalabi22.html.
So I’m afraid you fell not just for an overzealous Iraqi , but for what would have to be considered the most successful intelligence operation in modern history.
It made perfect sense from Iran’s point of view to trigger Cheney’s paranoia and set their two greatest enemies, the US and Ba’athist Iraq, at each other. Bush’s War crippled our economy, exhausted our military, and left our populace war-weary. It also destroyed Ba’ath, gave Iran inroads into Iraq’s oil markets, and gave Iran effective political hegemony over Iraq.
Lesson: if a war looks too good to be true…it probably is.
@The Crafty Trilobite: Your link is slightly borked – need to remove the period at the end of the URL, then it works.
Good (though depressing) article; thanks.
I didn’t buy Powell for a second. His case was laughable on it’s face. He was trying to convince us that for the past four decades, American intelligence and technology actually got stupider.
Understand, 1962 technology was s-o-o-o advanced they could have U2s flying under jungle cover while getting shot at in hostile territory and take PHOTOGRAPHS of missile bases, and a Secretary of State could show the world these PHOTOGRAPHS at the United Nations.
Fast-forward 40 years, with weapons inspectors on the ground, a treeless desert with few places to hide, a No-Fly Zone, satellite cameras, heat-seeking and ground-penetrating sensors… and the best – The BEST – the best technology our Pentagon and CIA could find (read: manufacture) were scary CorelDraw CARTOONS of mobile laboratories.
That’s right – our billions of dollars in taxpayer national security intelligence and defense gave us CARTOONS, a scary vial of Tide detergent, and a Secretary of State telling us to “Just Imagine” while he ooga-booga wiggled that little vial of Tide detergent.
Paranoid American editorials proclaimed these cartoons and props and admonition to “Imagine” and called it conclusive incontrovertible airtight evidence. The rest of world was rightly more skeptical.
You forgot Poland
For my money, Chris @92 has it right.
I have, to this day, no freaking idea why it was so important for Bush, Cheney, et al to go into Iraq. Or, I think that, between them, they had about fifty reasons, most or all them made of self-serving crap.
The reason the American people bought it was because they were angry about 9/11 and they wanted to beat the living hell out of some Muslims. Any sandy place with brown people would do.
My favorite argument of all time was Rumsfeld’s observation that Iraq was a more target-rich environment than Afghanistan. Why that man has not been hauled before the Hague amazes me to this day.
To go with the greatest blog post, the greatest cabinet resignation speech, by Robin Cook, before the British parliament vote on the invasion:
“Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term … any evidence that inspections may be showing progress is greeted in Washington not with satisfaction, but with consternation, because it reduces the case for war. What has come to trouble me most in the past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way, and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops in Iraq.”
He resigned to try to persuade MPs that the war was wrong (more Labour party backbenchers voted against was that for it, but the Conservative opposition was hugely in favour of war, so the overall vote was in favour of war), and, though he was Labour through and through, he couldn’t sit in a cabinet that went to war without evidence or broad international agreement.
@Karen: A different question: If SCOTUS had not interfered in the 2000 election, and Al Gore had been president on 9/11, would we he have participated in concocting all the BS (curveball, chalabi, judy miller/NYT echo chamber, yellow cake in africa, Atta in Prague, misleading the UN, mushroom cloud rhetoric) leading up to the US invading Iraq?
@Villago Delenda Est:
I hated 300. Absolutely hated it. And not just because it resembled a shitty video game more than an actual movie, but because it perpetuates the idea that ancient Sparta was somehow a society worth venerating. I’m not OK with modeling a modern society after a military oligarchy with an economy largely based on slave labor.