Iraq War – compilation of 9/11/14

“What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in [the Bush] administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war.” Barack Obama, State Senator from Illinois, 2002

How the Bush Administration Sold the War – and We Bought It by Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson, The Guardian, February 28, 2013

Presidential administration on 9/11/01 – President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan, Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz plus Senator John McCain, Doug Feith, Marc Thiessen, Robert Kagan, William Kristol and more

The Project for the New American Century. By William Rivers Pitt, February 25, 2003, www.informationclearinghouse.info…The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, is a Washington-based think tank created in 1997….desires and demands one thing: The establishment of a global American empire to bend the will of all nations… When [George W.] Bush assumed the Presidency, the men who created and nurtured the imperial dreams of PNAC became the men who run the Pentagon, the Defense Department and the White House…. On September 11th, the fellows from PNAC saw a door of opportunity open wide before them, and stormed right through it. The defense contractors who sup on American tax revenue will be handsomely paid for arming this new American empire. The corporations that own the news media will sell this eternal war at a profit, as viewership goes through the stratosphere when there is combat to be shown…Through it all, the bankrollers from the WTO and the IMF will be able to dictate financial terms to the entire planet… There will be adverse side effects. The siege mentality average Americans are suffering…will increase by orders of magnitude as our aggressions bring forth new terrorist attacks against the homeland. These attacks will require the implementation of the newly drafted Patriot Act II…The American economy will be ravaged by the need for increased defense spending…Many people, of course, will die. They will die from war and from want, from famine and disease. At home, the social fabric will be torn in ways that make the Reagan nightmares of crack addiction, homelessness and AIDS seem tame by comparison. This is the price to be paid for empire, and the men of PNAC who now control the fate and future of America are more than willing to pay it. For them, the benefits far outweigh the liabilities….

The Worst Mistake in U.S. History — America Will Never Recover from Bush’s Great Foreign Policy Disaster By Peter Van Buren, Tom Dispatch, March 7, 2013 

The totality of the Bush administration’s failure in Iraq is stunning by Ezra Klein, www.vox.com, June 17, 2014

Timeline highlights — Iraq War — 1965 to 2009 

Neoconservatives

Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Trillion, Could Grow to $6 Trillion, Says Watson Institute Study By Daniel Trotta, Reuters 3/14/13

The Duplicity of the Ideologues by Andrew J. Bacevich, commonwealmagazine.org,  June 4, 2014

How the US Press Lost its Way By Robert Parry, Consortium News,  May 21, 2012

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished By Nicolas J.S. Davies, AlterNet, March 15, 2013   

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War by Phyllis Stenerson, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of February 15, 2013

Tony Blair [and George Bush] should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu by Toby Helm, political editor, The Observer,  September 1, 2012

Neocons and the Iraq War: Their view then and now 10 years later By Eric Black, Minnpost.com, March 15, 2013

Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right’ About Iraq War By Alana Horowitz, The Huffington Post 06/17/2014 …“From the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t.… Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.” Glenn Beck

On Iraq, Echoes of 2003 by Nicholas Kristof, The Opinion Pages, New York Times, JUNE 18, 2014  …Our 2003 invasion of Iraq should be a warning that military force sometimes transforms a genuine problem into something worse. The war claimed 4,500 American lives and…500,000 Iraqi lives… latest estimate is that the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion. That’s a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school — for the next 83 years…

 

 

 

Iraq Update – 2014

 

The First Iraq War Was Also Sold to the Public Based on a Pack of Lies by Joshua Holland,  billmoyers.com, June 27, 2014

Bush and Cheney are war criminals, says former Bush counterterrorism official by David Phillips, Las Vegas Democrat Examiner, May 29, 2014

The Worst Mistake in U.S. History — America Will Never Recover from Bush’s Great Foreign Policy Disaster By Peter Van Buren, Tom Dispatch, March 7, 2013 

Combat Veteran and Military Historian [Andrew Bacevich] Tells Bill Moyers, “No Way” Do We Go Back into Iraq – interview by Bill Moyers, Moyers and Company, posted on Alternet.org, June 20, 2014 Moyers…former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Elizabeth wrote a long essay in “The Wall Street Journal.” They say, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is ‘ending’ the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—as though wishing made it so…ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I’d say rarely has a major American newspaper published an op-ed that was so thoroughly shameless. Again, what is the cause? What was the catalyst of the instability that racks Iraq today? The simple answer is the one that Cheney and his daughter don’t want to mention: the unnecessary, misguided, and frankly immoral war launched by the United States in 2003. We destabilized Iraq. In many respects, we destabilized the larger region. And misfortune of Barack Obama is that he inherited this catastrophe, created by the previous administration….I think the contrast between what Cheney said in 1994 and what he says 20 years later is actually very illustrative of this point. And that is that what passes for foreign-policy debate today, is just nakedly partisan…For somebody like Vice President Cheney berating Barack Obama for somehow surrendering American leadership and in the course of doing that simply ignoring the record of the administration in which he served– that’s duplicity. That’s malicious partisanship.

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine By Dick Cheney And Liz Cheney , Opinion, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014   - ...Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many….

Iraq Is Coming Apart at the Seams — Here’s Our Essential Reader by Joshua Holland, BillMoyers.com, June 18, 2014

The totality of the Bush administration’s failure in Iraq is stunning by Ezra Klein, www.vox.com, June 17, 2014

Mainstream Media’s Echo Chamber on Iraq by Eric Alterman, BillMoyers.com, June 19, 2014 … Where were the watchdogs of the press?… No one denies that the truth was available at the time. Not all of it, of course, but enough to know that certain catastrophe lay down the road……the very same people who sold us the war are today trying to resell us the same damaged goods…Paul BremerDoug Feith …Marc Thiessen …Robert Kagan …William Kristol…Dick Cheney.

Glenn Beck: ‘Liberals, You Were Right’ About Iraq War By Alana Horowitz, The Huffington Post 06/17/2014 …”From the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t…. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have.” Glenn Beck

On Iraq, Echoes of 2003 by Nicholas Kristof, The Opinion Pages, New York Times, JUNE 18, 2014  Is this 2014 or 2003? I’m flinching at a painful sense of déjà vu…Our 2003 invasion of Iraq should be a warning that military force sometimes transforms a genuine problem into something worse. The war claimed 4,500 American lives and…500,000 Iraqi lives… latest estimate is that the total cost to the United States of the Iraq war will be $4 trillion. That’s a $35,000 tax on the average American household. The total would be enough to ensure that all children could attend preschool in the United States, that most people with AIDS worldwide could receive treatment, and that every child worldwide could attend school — for the next 83 years. Instead, we financed a futile war that was like a Mobius strip, bringing us right back to an echo of where we started…The least surprising hawk is Dick Cheney, who in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article with his daughter Liz preserves an almost perfect record of being wrong. From the vice president who himself obtained every possible deferment to avoid Vietnam, who asserted “with absolute certainty” in 2002 that Saddam was making nuclear weapons, and insisted in 2005 that the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes,” we now have a blast at President Obama for failing to extinguish the continuing throes….Let’s acknowledge that hawks are right, that Iraq presents a serious problem. But is American military intervention really the best response at this time? Not at all.

The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow. The years-long, ongoing military effort has resurrected fears of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” Media pundits are outraged at private companies scooping up huge, no-questions-asked contracts to manufacture weapons, rebuild infrastructure, or anything else the government deems necessary to win (or plant its flag in Iraq). No matter what your stance on the war, it pays to know where your tax dollars are being spent. Following is a detailed rundown of the 25 companies squeezing the most profit from this controversial conflict. 1. Halliburton (a long string of military/KBR wartime partnerships, thanks in no small part to Dick Cheney’s former role with the parent company.) 2. Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp 3. Washington Group International 4. Environmental Chemical 5. Aegis 6. International American Products………….

Big Shocker—Iraq War Architect Goes on ‘Meet the Press’ to Argue for Endless War By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos, posted on Alternet.org, June 16, 2014  The George W. Bush Iraq War sales team was out in force on the Sunday [June 16,2014] talk shows to explain that if President Obama had just made Iraq a truly endless war, everything would be fine and dandy over there now….How is it that after the destruction these people wrought—the horror in Iraq then and now, the deaths and injuries of American troops, the massive financial cost—they are still considered serious commentators whose opinions we should consider on this issue?

The Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict by Steven Jonas, MD, Truth-out.org, June 16, 2014   …Iraq. It is now teetering on the brink of even more disaster than it has been subject to since the US invasion…one of its original major justifications, other than the non-existent WMD, was that the War on Iraq was a part of the “War on Terror”…” But it was very much in the interests of those forces which forced the US into war to cement the “terror/fear” environment in the minds of the US people. And they certainly have achieved that goal, within the GOP/TP “base,” at least let’s connect the dots to see what was really happening. 1…Bush/Cheney lied the U.S. into war. 2. There was no post-war planning…the US eventually left Iraq, not with any kind of “victory” but because it was pushed out, by the very puppet government that Bush/Cheney set up. But the Permanent War Society, or at least the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War Society, is very much in play. In terms of its original objectives, regardless of what happens in the Middle East now, the War on Iraq can only be said to have resulted in a victory - for those who originally planned and prosecuted it.. full text

Pat Robertson unloads on Bush for latest Iraq crisis: ‘We were sold a bill of goods!’ By David Edwards, Rawstory.com, June 16, 2014  Televangelist Pat Robertson on Monday blasted former President George W. Bush for selling Americans a “bill of goods” before the Iraq invasion, which led to the violence that is currently sweeping across the country….In the end, Robertson reckoned that there would be conflict in Iraq until an Antichrist appeared before the Second Coming of Christ. “They will continue to play out until such times that the Lord brings out of Babylon some evil Antichrist or something,” he remarked. video from CBN’s The 700 Club, broadcast June 16, 2014.

The Iraq Mess: Place Blame Where It Is Deserved John Cassidy, The New Yorker, June 13, 2014  …we have reached the moment that skeptics of the 2003 United States invasion warned about all along: the implosion of the country, and, possibly, the entire region…President Obama and his military advisers are scrambling to come up with a response…the blame game has already begun…“Could all of this have been avoided? The answer is absolutely yes.”  McCain is right; it could have been avoided. If, in the aftermath of 9/11, President George W. Bush had treated the arguments of Doug Feith, McCain, and other advocates of the Iraq War with the disdain they deserved, we (and the Iraqis) wouldn’t be where we are today…greatest mistake was the initial one. In invading Iraq and toppling Saddam, the Bush Administration opened Pandora’s Box. Given what has happened since 2003, it is almost comical to read the prewar prognostications of the neocons and paleocons for what would happen after Saddam was gone. There was talk of turning Iraq into a democratic model for other Middle Eastern countries…The irony is painfully acute. Eleven years ago, in response to a terrorist attack by a group of anti-American religious fanatics, the United States invaded an Arab country with hardly any jihadis, or very few of them, to overthrow a secular dictator. Today, with much blood and money having been spent, northern and western Iraq is full of jihadis, and the U.S. government is figuring out how to prevent them from overrunning the rest of the country.…the October, 2011, decision, which had the overwhelming support of the American public, will be relitigated. That’s a legitimate debate to have. But it shouldn’t be allowed to distract from the broader truth, which is that Iraqis and the rest of us are still living with the consequences of the initial determinations made by President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and their colleagues. The Iraq invasion and occupation was ill-conceived, ill-executed, and ill-fated. It had terrible consequences not just for Iraq but for many other countries. It illustrated the limits of American military power—the opposite of what it was intended to do—and it helped accomplish what Osama bin Laden could never have achieved on his own: drawing the United States and its allies into an open-ended global battle with militant Islam. When you hear Feith and other architects of the Iraq invasion criticizing Obama for cutting and running, it is well to remember that.

Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict by Steven Jonas, MD, Truth-out.org, June 16, 2014

The Iraq War Was Launched to Own the Country, Not to Liberate It by MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, June  17, 2014 Mini-excerpt – You can start with the profoundly tragic irony that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq War of 2003 created a terrorist threat instead of ending one…With the power vaccum opened up by the US overthrow of Hussein, the groups labeled as terrorists started amassing in Iraq in the absence of a centralized government outside of the US military…If there is another 9/11, as [Senator Lindsay] Graham forecasts, it is because of the false narrative and war crimes that he and others promoted at the behest of the Bush administration. The terrorist threat did not exist in Iraq until Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld decided to try to own it – and in doing so, broke it.  

A refresher course on Iraq for Republican revisionists by Bruce Lindner, theeverlastinggopstoppers.com June 17, 2014

“What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in [the Bush] administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne,” he said. “What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income – to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war.” Barack Obama, State Senator from Illinois, 2002

Statement by Sen. Wellstone regarding military action against Iraq delivered on the floor of the senate October 3, 2002. YouTube

Former Envoy Pipes Up in Conservative Chorus of ‘Told You So’ on Iraq By JENNIFER STEINHAUER, New York Times, JUNE 18, 2014 …John R. Bolton…the opinionated, galvanic former United States ambassador to the United Nations … is among the cavalcade of neoconservatives newly emerged on cable television and in hawkish policy seminars to say “We told you so” on Iraq…Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol …what amounts to a homecoming week for the Bush administration…Mr. Wolfowitz, a deputy defense secretary under Mr. Bush who is widely viewed as an architect of the Iraq war, echoed Mr. Bolton on MSNBC, saying that he was not the architect of the war but that if he had been, “things would have been run very differently.”…For Mr. Bolton, a regular contributor to Fox News, the current crisis is a new opportunity to criticize Mr. Obama’s foreign policy as fecklesshis views are a balm to traditional conservatives in Congress and beyond who worry about the ascent of libertarians within the party, like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who lean more isolationist.He has been a good, clear voice on peace through strength,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, of Mr. Bolton. “Some people in our party are to the left of Obama on foreign policy, and we are pushing back.”…“He oversaw some of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in American history,” said Lincoln Chafee, the Democratic governor of Rhode Island, who at the time was a Republican senator whose objection to Mr. Bolton helped block his nomination, and who has no regrets. “He has just been wrong on every issue.”…

The War in Iraq Cost $4 Trillion and Enormous Loss of Life: 8 Warmongers Who Would Take Us Back by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet, June 13, 2014  The Iraq War hawks are back. And they have two knee-jerk ways of seeing the convulsions in Iraq where Sunni militants have seized cities from Syria to Baghdad’s doorstep, killing government workers and civilians, and grabbing weapons from a vanishing Iraqi Army. First, it is always President Obama’s fault; and second, the U.S. must return to war, despite what has been one of the biggest debacles in American military history. Hawks are only happy when we are at war, fueling the military-industrial complex as U.S. soldiers die and platoons of maimed veterans return home to underfunded medical care…the same warmongering editorial pages and many of the same writers who gladly carried the water for Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Scott McClellan are back at it…1. Senator John McCain 2. Senator Lindsey Graham 3. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon 4. Former George W. Bush Speechwriter Micheal Gerson 5. Wall Street Journal Columnist Daniel Henninger 7. The Weekly Standard’s Max Boot 8. Washington Post Columnist Jennifer Rubin … George W. Bush’s war of choice in Iraq lit a time bomb that has cost trillions of taxpayer dollars, killed thousands of U.S. soldiers, maimed 320,000 with brain injuries, and left more than 650,000 Iraqis dead. Despite everything the U.S. has tried, Iraq is still falling into chaos and civil war of its own making. Yet America’s war hawks want us to go back in, for ridiculous reasons that can only make a bad situation worse.

The Duplicity of the Ideologues by Andrew J. Bacevich, commonwealmagazine.org,  June 4, 2014

Previous postings about Iraq War

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished

About the Iraq tragedy — commentary and information

Lessons from the Iraq War tragedy - ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of March 20, 2013

Reflections on Iraq tragedy compiled by Phyllis Stenerson,

Lessons from Iraq tragedy — excerpts

Iraq War excerpts updated 3–30-13

Timeline highlights — Iraq War — 1965 to 2009

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of Feb­ru­ary 15, 2013

Prince of Darkness denies own existence — Richard Perle by Dana Milbank, Washington Post, February 20, 2009 

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished By Nicolas J.S. Davies, AlterNet, March 15, 2013   

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War by Phyllis Stenerson, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of February 15, 2013

Tony Blair [and George Bush] should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu by Toby Helm, political editor, The Observer,  1 September 1, 2012

Ten Years — A decade in American democracy — Editorial, September 2011 Uptown Neighborhood News, Minneapolis, MN — September 2011 - Editorial by Phyllis Stenerson  

The Attack-Syria Coalition: Brought to You By the Same People Who Gave Us the Iraq Debacle By Samer Araabi, Right Web, Alternet.org, October 15, 2012

Romney’s Neocon Foreign Policy: Written by Those Who Ignored al Qaeda Threat 

 

 

Prince of Darkness Denies Own Existence

by Dana Milbank, Washington Post, February 20, 2009

Listening to neoconservative mastermind Richard Perle at the Nixon Center yesterday, there was a sense of falling down the rabbit hole.

In real life, Perle was the ideological architect of the Iraq war and of the Bush doctrine of preemptive attack. But at yesterday’s forum of foreign policy intellectuals, he created a fantastic world in which:

1. Perle is not a neoconservative.

2. Neoconservatives do not exist.

3. Even if neoconservatives did exist, they certainly couldn’t be blamed for the disasters of the past eight years.

“There is no such thing as a neoconservative foreign policy,” Perle informed the gathering, hosted by National Interest magazine. “It is a left critique of what is believed by the commentator to be a right-wing policy.”

So what about the 1996 report he co-authored that is widely seen as the cornerstone of neoconservative foreign policy? “My name was on it because I signed up for the study group,” Perle explained. “I didn’t approve it. I didn’t read it.”

Mm-hmm. And the two letters to the president, signed by Perle, giving a “moral” basis to Middle East policy and demanding military means to remove Saddam Hussein? “I don’t have the letters in front of me,” Perle replied.

Right. And the Bush administration National Security Strategy, enshrining the neoconservative themes of preemptive war and using American power to spread freedom? “I don’t know whether President Bush ever read any of those statements,” Perle maintained. “My guess is he didn’t.”

The Prince of Darkness — so dubbed during his days opposing arms control in the Reagan Pentagon — was not about to let details get in the way of his argument that “50 million conspiracy theorists have it wrong,” as the subtitle of his article for National Interest put it. “I see a number of people here who believe and have expressed themselves abundantly that there is a neoconservative foreign policy and it was the policy that dominated the Bush administration, and they ascribe to it responsibility for the deplorable state of the world,” Perle told the foreign policy luminaries at yesterday’s lunch. “None of that is true, of course.”

Of course.

He had been a leading cheerleader for the Iraq war, predicting that the effort would take few troops and last only a few days, and that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction. Perle was chairman of Bush’s Defense Policy Board — and the president clearly took the advice of Perle and his fellow neocons. And Perle, in turn, said back then that Bush “knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Yesterday, however, Perle said Bush’s foreign policy had “no philosophical underpinnings and certainly nothing like the demonic influence of neoconservatives that is alleged.” He also took issue with the common view that neocons favored using American might to spread democratic values. “There’s no documentation!” he argued. “I can’t find a single example of a neoconservative supposed to have influence over the Bush administration arguing that we should impose democracy by force.”

Those in the room were skeptical of Perle’s efforts to recast himself as a pragmatist.

Richard Burt, who clashed with Perle in the Reagan administration, took issue with “this argument that neoconservatism maybe actually doesn’t exist.” He reminded Perle of the longtime rift between foreign policy realists and neoconservative interventionists. “You’ve got to kind of acknowledge there is a neoconservative school of thought,” Burt challenged.

“I don’t accept the approach, not at all,” the Prince of Darkness replied.

Jacob Heilbrunn of National Interest asked Perle to square his newfound realism with the rather idealistic title of his book, “An End to Evil.”

“We had a publisher who chose the title,” Perle claimed, adding: “There’s hardly an ideology in that book.” (An excerpt: “There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or holocaust. This book is a manual for victory.”)

Regardless of the title, Heilbrunn pursued, how could so many people — including lapsed neoconservative Francis Fukuyama — all be so wrong about what neoconservatives represent?

“It’s not surprising that a lot of people get something wrong,” Perle reasoned.

At times, the Prince of Darkness turned on his questioners. Fielding a question from the Financial Times, he said that the newspaper “propagated this myth of neoconservative influence.” He informed Stefan Halper of Cambridge University that “you have contributed significantly to this mythology.”

“There are some 5,000 footnotes,” Halper replied. “Documents that you’ve signed.”

But documents did not deter denials. “I’ve never advocated attacking Iran,” he said, to a few chuckles. “Regime change does not imply military force, at least not when I use the term,” he said, to raised eyebrows. Accusations that neoconservatives manipulated intelligence on Iraq? “There’s no truth to it.” At one point, he argued that the word “neoconservative” has been used as an anti-Semitic slur, just moments after complaining that prominent figures such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — Christians both — had been grouped in with the neoconservatives.

“I don’t know that I persuaded anyone,” Perle speculated when the session ended.

No worries, said the moderator. “You certainly kept us all entertained.”

© 2009 The Washington Post Company

Iraq War

Lessons from the Iraq War tragedy - ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of March 20, 2013

Information about Iraq War – articles with various perspectives from before the war to predictions for long after – posted March 19, 2013

Iraq War – excerpts

Timeline highlights – Iraq War – 1965 to 2009

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change — The Iraq War, ProgressiveValues.org e-letter of Feb­ru­ary 15, 2013

Prince of Darkness denies own existence – Richard Perle

About the Iraq tragedy – commentary and information

Updated 3/30/13

The Neo­con­ser­v­a­tives

The Project for the New Amer­i­can Cen­tury By William Rivers Pitt, Infor­ma­tion Clear­ing House 02/25/03

The Project for a New American Empire, by Duane Shank, Sojourners Magazine, September-October 2003 (Vol. 32, No. 5, pp. 27-30).

Prince of Dark­ness Denies Own Exis­tence by Dana Mil­bank, Wash­ing­ton Post, Feb­ru­ary 20, 2009

Con­text  HistoryCommons.org

It’s About A Lot More Than A “God­damned Piece of Paper” by Steve Wat­son,  Capi­tol Hill Blue, Decem­ber 12 2005

Costs of war

War Is a Force That Pays the 1 Per­cent: Occu­py­ing Amer­i­can For­eign Pol­icy by: J.A. Myer­son, Truthout | News Analy­sis, Novem­ber 14, 2011

Iraq War Cost U.S. More Than $2 Tril­lion, Could Grow to $6 Tril­lion, Says Wat­son Insti­tute Study By Daniel Trotta, Reuters 3/14/13 on

Amer­i­can Mil­i­tarism: Costs and Con­se­quences By Melvin Good­man, City Lights Books | Book Excerpt, Truth-out.org, 05 March 2013

Look­ing back

Ten Years After – Editorial, New York Times

Democ­rats Share the Blame for Tragedy of Iraq War, 17 March 2013 06:59 By Stephen Zunes, Truthout | Op-Ed 

10 Years After Iraq Inva­sion: Con­tin­ued Myths, Hun­dreds of Thou­sands Killed by Andrea Ger­manos, staff writer, Com­mon Dreams, March 18, 2013

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished

Ten Years Later, Eyes Still Wide Shut on the Iraq War by Ray McGov­ern, Con­sor­tium News,  Feb­ru­ary 25, 2013

How the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion Sold the War – and We Bought It by Joe Wil­son and Valerie Plame Wil­son, The Guardian, Feb­ru­ary 28, 2013

The Worst Mis­take in U.S. His­tory — Amer­ica Will Never Recover from Bush’s Great For­eign Pol­icy Dis­as­ter By Peter Van Buren, Tom Dis­patch , March 7, 2013

10 Years Later: Look­ing Back on the Iraq War So We Can Clearly Look For­ward by Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton, Huff­in­g­ton Post, 03/06/2013

Tony Blair should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu by The Observer,   Sep­tem­ber 1, 2012   — Arch­bishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the inter­na­tional crim­i­nal court in The Hague and deliv­ered a damn­ing cri­tique of the phys­i­cal and moral dev­as­ta­tion caused by the Iraq war.

The Siren Song Of War: Why Pundits Beat The Drums For Iraq by Kath­leen Geier, nationalmemo.com, March 22, 2013 

Articles posted previously on 3/26/13

 

Ten Years After – Editorial, New York Times

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, March 19, 2013

Excerpt

Ten years after it began, the Iraq war still haunts the United States in the nearly 4,500 troops who died there; the more than 30,000 American wounded who have come home; the more than $2 trillion spent on combat operations and reconstruction, which inflated the deficit; and in the lessons learned about the limits of American leadership and power.

It haunts Iraq too, where the total number of casualties is believed to have surpassed 100,000 but has never been officially determined; and where one strongman was traded for another, albeit under a more pluralistic system with a democratic veneer. The country is increasingly influenced by Iran and buffeted by the regional turmoil caused by the Arab Spring.

In 2003, President George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, used the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to wage pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein and a nuclear arsenal that did not exist. They promised a “free and peaceful Iraq” that would be a model of democracy and stability in the Arab world…Yet none of the Bush administration’s war architects have been called to account for their mistakes, and even now, many are invited to speak on policy issues as if they were not responsible for one of the worst strategic blunders in American foreign policy…

Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before allowing military action and to listen honestly rather than acting on ideological or political impulses. Mr. Bush led the war, but Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress endorsed it. Iraq also shows the limits of America’s influence in regions where sectarian enmity remains strong and where democracy has no real history…The Iraq war was unnecessary, costly and damaging on every level. It was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons. The terrible human and economic costs over the past 10 years show why that must never happen again.

Full text

Ten years after it began, the Iraq war still haunts the United States in the nearly 4,500 troops who died there; the more than 30,000 American wounded who have come home; the more than $2 trillion spent on combat operations and reconstruction, which inflated the deficit; and in the lessons learned about the limits of American leadership and power.

It haunts Iraq too, where the total number of casualties is believed to have surpassed 100,000 but has never been officially determined; and where one strongman was traded for another, albeit under a more pluralistic system with a democratic veneer. The country is increasingly influenced by Iran and buffeted by the regional turmoil caused by the Arab Spring.

In 2003, President George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, used the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to wage pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein and a nuclear arsenal that did not exist. They promised a “free and peaceful Iraq” that would be a model of democracy and stability in the Arab world. While no one laments Saddam’s passing and violence is down from peak war levels, the country is fragile, with grave tensions between Sunnis and Shiites and Arabs and Kurds that could yet erupt into civil war or tear the state apart.

A State Department travel warning last month described Iraq as dangerous, with numerous insurgents, including Al Qaeda in Iraq, still active, and said Americans were “at risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.” On Tuesday, a wave of car bombings and other attacks in Baghdad killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 200.

Yet none of the Bush administration’s war architects have been called to account for their mistakes, and even now, many are invited to speak on policy issues as if they were not responsible for one of the worst strategic blunders in American foreign policy. In a video posted recently by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Wolfowitz said he still believed the war was the right thing to do. Will he and his partners ever have the humility to admit that it was wrong to prosecute this war?

President Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and has been single-minded about ending it, withdrawing the last combat troops in 2011. American influence in Iraq has greatly declined since then and Mr. Obama’s attention, like that of most Americans, has shifted to other priorities. Iraqis are responsible for their own future. But the country is a front line in the conflict between moderate Islam and Al Qaeda, not to mention its role as an oil producer. It requires more sustained American involvement than we have recently seen.

Iraq is a reminder of the need for political leaders to ask the right questions before allowing military action and to listen honestly rather than acting on ideological or political impulses. Mr. Bush led the war, but Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress endorsed it. Iraq also shows the limits of America’s influence in regions where sectarian enmity remains strong and where democracy has no real history.

That experience is informing American policy judgments more generally. It has affected decisions about Syria, where President Obama has been right to move cautiously. For a long time the Syrian opposition was divided, and it was hard to know which group, if any, deserved help. It also made sense not to rush into another costly war in another Arab country that could fuel new anti-American animosities and embroil the United States for another decade.

But with the Syrian conflict in its third year, the fighting has already spilled over the borders, destabilizing its neighbors, even as Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels play a bigger role. The reasons for opposing direct American involvement in Syria remain strong, but the United States needs to calibrate its policies continually and should not allow the Iraq experience to paralyze its response to different circumstances.

The lessons of Iraq, however, seem to fade when it comes to Iran. Many of the conservatives who strongly supported the charge into Iraq are fanning calls for United States military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. President Obama has also been threatening “all options” if negotiations to curb Iran’s ambitions are not successful, and many lawmakers seem ready to take action against Iran soon.

The Iraq war was unnecessary, costly and damaging on every level. It was based on faulty intelligence manipulated for ideological reasons. The terrible human and economic costs over the past 10 years show why that must never happen again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/opinion/ten-years-after-the-iraq-war-began.html

10 Years After the Invasion: America Destroyed Iraq But Our War Crimes Remain Unacknowledged and Unpunished

AlterNet [1] / By Nicolas J.S. Davies [2] March 15, 2013

Excerpt

Since the end of the Second World War, American political leaders and opinion-makers have led the public to believe that the aggressive use of overt and covert military force are essential tools of US foreign policy…the web of myths, euphemisms and ever-growing secrecy behind which our leaders feel compelled to hide their war policies belies their claims to have learned the lessons of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else…

…the central unmentionable problem of U.S. war policy, that it is in fact a crime, aggression, to attack or invade another country.  The judges at Nuremberg called aggression the “supreme international crime” [5], because, as they said, “it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”  The Iraq Inquiry in the U.K. has declassified documents showing that Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw were warned consistently and repeatedly that invading Iraq would be a crime of aggression [6], which their legal advisers called “one of the most serious offenses under international law.”

The disaster of two World Wars brought the world’s leaders together to sign the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.  They saw war as an existential threat to the future of mankind, as it still is.  So the U.N. Charter expressly prohibited the use of military force by any country against another [7].  For the next 45 years, the U.S. could only justify its wars by self-defense of an ally (as in Vietnam) or U.N. action (as in Korea).  The U.S. conducted wars in secret (as in Central America)…

In place of the “peace dividend” that most Americans hoped for, the end of the Cold War perversely encouraged delusions of a “power dividend” and “full spectrum dominance” in Washington.  U.S. leaders exploited public grief and panic in the wake of September 11th to reclaim the use of military force as an accepted form of international behavior, if only for themselves and their allies

Our military leaders may be chronically unable to win a war in another country, but they sure know how to wage a propaganda war in America…

Established principles of law also provide a robust and effective framework from which to tackle American war crimes… Neither Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bybee, Gonzalez, Yoo, nor Generals Franks, Sanchez, Casey or Petraeus, should presume that they will live out their lives beyond the reach of justice.

But it is also a well-established principle of international law that countries who commit aggression bear a collective responsibility for their actions.  Our leaders’ guilt does not let the rest of us off the hook for the crimes committed in our name…

Full text

Since the end of the Second World War, American political leaders and opinion-makers have led the public to believe that the aggressive use of overt and covert military force are essential tools of US foreign policy.  As we reel from one military disaster to the next, sending our loved ones off to war, killing millions of innocent people and destabilizing one region after another, each new administration assures us that it has learned the lessons of the past and deserves our support and sacrifice for its latest military strategy.

But the web of myths, euphemisms and ever-growing secrecy behind which our leaders feel compelled to hide their war policies belies their claims to have learned the lessons of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.  The brave efforts of Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning to let us honestly examine the record for ourselves and draw our own conclusions are met with vindictive terror in the halls of power.

 

Forty years after the last U.S. troops came home in defeat from Vietnam, Nick Turse’s book, Kill Anything That Moves [3], has documented the systematic slaughter that thousands of American soldiers took part in and millions of Vietnamese suffered.  Turse has restored the lived reality of millions of people to its rightful place in American history, from which it had simply been redacted and suppressed.

 

As British playwright Harold Pinter said in his 2005  [4]Nobel Speech [4], “…my contention here is that the U.S. crimes… have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all.”

 

Pinter leads us to the central unmentionable problem of U.S. war policy, that it is in fact a crime, aggression, to attack or invade another country.  The judges at Nuremberg called aggression the “supreme international crime” [5], because, as they said, “it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”  The Iraq Inquiry in the U.K. has declassified documents showing that Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw were warned consistently and repeatedly that invading Iraq would be a crime of aggression [6], which their legal advisers called “one of the most serious offenses under international law.”

 

The disaster of two World Wars brought the world’s leaders together to sign the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.  They saw war as an existential threat to the future of mankind, as it still is.  So the U.N. Charter expressly prohibited the use of military force by any country against another [7].  For the next 45 years, the U.S. could only justify its wars by self-defense of an ally (as in Vietnam) or U.N. action (as in Korea).  The U.S. conducted wars in secret (as in Central America), but that led to a guilty verdict at the International Court of Justice [8] and an order to pay war reparations to Nicaragua – reparations that remain unpaid, like the $3.3 billion that President Nixon promised to Vietnam [9].

 

In place of the “peace dividend” that most Americans hoped for, the end of the Cold War perversely encouraged delusions of a “power dividend” and “full spectrum dominance” in Washington.  U.S. leaders exploited public grief and panic in the wake of September 11th to reclaim the use of military force as an accepted form of international behavior, if only for themselves and their allies.  Under the ill-defined parameters of the “war on terror”, they now claim the right to use military force in ways that have long been outlawed by the U.N. Charter.  But the Charter has not been repealed.  Aggression is still a crime, whether it is conducted by drone strikes or by a full-scale invasion of another country.

 

The reality of the “accumulated evil” unleashed on the people of Iraq by the “supreme international crime” of aggression has been painstakingly obscured behind a tapestry of lies.  Our military leaders may be chronically unable to win a war in another country, but they sure know how to wage a propaganda war in America:

 

- Fantastical notions of the accuracy of “precision” weapons obscured the widespread slaughter and destruction of the invasion, which unleashed 29,200 bombs and missiles [10] in the first month of the war and killed tens of thousands of civilians [11].

 

- Reports by the Iraqi Health Ministry [12] in 2004 that occupation forces were killing far more civilians than were killed by “insurgents” were efficiently suppressed [13].

 

- Epidemiologists who estimated that 650,000 Iraqis had died by 2006 [14] were ignored or dismissed.  As the war went on, the number of dead probably reached a million by 2008 [15].

 

-  U.S. troops were brainwashed to link Iraq with September 11th and thus to see Iraqis resisting the illegal invasion and occupation of their country as terrorists like the ones who attacked New York and Washington.  A Zogby Poll in February 2006 [16], three years into the war, found that 85% of U.S. troops in Iraq believed that their mission was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks.”

 

-  U.S. rules of engagement in Iraq flagrantly violated the laws of war.  They included: “dead-checking” [17] or killing wounded resistance fighters; orders to “kill all military-age m [18]en [18] [18] during some operations; “360 degree rotational fire” [19] on streets packed with civilians; standing orders to “call for fire” [20], meaning air strikes, even on villages or apartment buildings full of people; and Fallujah and other areas were designated “weapons free” [21] or “free fire” zones, where thousands of civilians were killed [22].

 

- Torture was more widespread and systematic in U.S. prisons than media reports about Abu Ghraib suggested.  A leaked report [23] from the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2004, based on 27 visits to 14 U.S. prisons in Iraq, and other human rights reports documented: mock executions; water-boarding; “stress positions”, including excruciating and sometimes deadly forms of hanging; extreme heat and cold; sleep deprivation; starvation and thirst; withholding medical treatment; electric shocks; rape and sodomy; beatings with all kinds of weapons; burning; cutting with knives; injurious use of flexi-cuffs; suffocation; sensory assault and/or deprivation; and psychological torture such as sexual humiliation and threats against family members.

 

- Human Rights First’s “Command’s Responsibility” [24] report investigated 98 deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These included at least 12 people who were definitely tortured to death, 26 other cases of suspected or confirmed homicide and 48 more that escaped official investigation altogether.  HRF found that senior officers abused their positions of power to place themselves beyond the reach of the law even as they gave orders to commit terrible crimes.  No officer above the rank of Major was charged with a crime even though torture was authorized from the highest level, and the most severe punishment handed down was a 5 month prison sentence.  The paper trail already in the public record appears sufficient to convict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, their lawyers and senior military officers of capital offenses under the U.S. War Crimes Act [25].

 

- The U.S. recruited, trained and deployed at least 27 brigades of Iraqi Special Police Commandos [26], who detained, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of men and boys in Baghdad and elsewhere in 2005 and 2006.  At the peak of this campaign, 3,000 bodies per month were brought to the Baghdad morgue and an Iraqi human rights group matched 92% of the corpses [27] to reported abductions by U.S.-backed forces.  U.S. Special Forces officers in Special Police Transition Teams [28] worked with each Iraqi unit, and a high-tech command center [29] staffed by U.S. and Iraqi personnel maintained U.S. command and control of these forces throughout their reign of terror.

 

- In 2006 and 2007, U.S. forces worked in tandem with the Special Police Commandos (by then rebranded “National Police” following the exposure of one of their torture centers [30]) in Operation Together Forward I & II and the so-called Surge to complete the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad.  The U.S. occupation deliberately targeted the Sunni Arab minority in Iraq, eventually killing about 10% of Sunni Arabs and driving about half of them from their homes.  This clearly meets the definition of genocide [31] in international treaties.  We must therefore add the crime of genocide to the prospective charge sheet of American crimes in Iraq.

 

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the transition from Bush to Obama was that the new President not only failed to hold U.S. officials criminally accountable for their crimes but in fact embraced the doctrines and policy developed under Bush and expanded their application to U.S. policy around the world.  Obama’s ever-expanding drone strikes [32] and doubling of Special Forces operations from 60 to 120 countries [33] are spreading the violence, lawlessness and instability of Bush’s “war on terror” to the four corners of the Earth.

 

Central to the perversion of law and order by U.S. policy is the application of “war rules” to civilians, as an Eminent Jurists Panel [34] of the International Commission of Jurists noted in 2009.  Many public debates on this issue pit a U.S. government insider or lawyer who regards the entire world as an American battlefield governed by “war rules” against an outsider talking about things like “due process”, “human rights” and “international humanitarian law.”  They usually talk at cross purposes for the length of a radio or TV show and then go their separate ways.

 

But this is a critical question, and the ICJ’s Eminent Jurists Panel, headed by former Irish President Mary Robinson, reached very definite conclusions on it. It found that U.S. leaders had confused the public by framing their counterterrorism campaign within a “war paradigm,” and that the U.S. government was distorting, selectively applying or simply ignoring binding human rights laws.

 

The ICJ panel concluded that that U.S. violations of international law were neither an appropriate nor an effective response to terrorism, and that established principles of international law “were intended to withstand crises, and they provide a robust and effective framework from which to tackle terrorism.”

 

Established principles of law also provide a robust and effective framework from which to tackle American war crimes.  Elsewhere in the world, Argentinian Generals Videla and Bignone [35] are already serving life terms, even as they face further charges, and General Rios Montt [36] of Guatemala is standing trial for the genocide of Mayan Indians in Ixil.  These men all assumed that their powerful positions and connections would shield them from accountability for their crimes.  But their countries have changed in response to the strength and will of their people.  Neither Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bybee, Gonzalez, Yoo, nor Generals Franks, Sanchez, Casey or Petraeus, should presume that they will live out their lives beyond the reach of justice.

 

But it is also a well-established principle of international law that countries who commit aggression bear a collective responsibility for their actions.  Our leaders’ guilt does not let the rest of us off the hook for the crimes committed in our name.  The United States has a legal and moral duty to pay war reparations to Iraq to help its people recover from the results of aggression, genocide and war crimes – this is a central demand of one very special group of Americans whose experiences and sacrifices make them uniquely qualified to press such a demand: Iraq Veterans Against the War [37].

 

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/world/10-years-after-invasion-america-destroyed-iraq-our-war-crimes-remain-unacknowledged-and

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/nicolas-js-davies
[3] http://killanythingthatmoves.tumblr.com/
[4] http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2005/pinter-lecture-e.html
[5] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/judnazi.asp
[6] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/invade-and-be-damned-foreign-office-lawyers-say-advice-on-legality-of-war-was-ignored-1879969.html
[7] http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua_v._United_States
[9] http://countrystudies.us/vietnam/62.htm
[10] http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2003/uscentaf_oif_report_30apr2003.pdf
[11] http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~chazelle/politics/bib/lancet.pdf
[12] http://www.commondreams.org/headlines.shtml?/headlines04/0925-02.htm
[13] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/4217413.stm
[14] http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/center-for-refugee-and-disaster-response/publications_tools/publications/additional_pdfs/Burnham_2006-Iraq2_Lancet.pdf
[15] http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/30/us-iraq-deaths-survey-idUSL3048857920080130
[16] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-zogby/on-a-new-poll-of-us-soldi_b_16497.html
[17] http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-11-16/news/dead-check-in-falluja/full/
[18] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/28/world/middleeast/28abuse.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
[19] http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/360-degrees-rotational-fire
[20] http://www.ivaw.org/blog/rules-engagement/clifton-hicks-and-steve-casey
[21] http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6450268/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/marines-let-loose-streets-fallujah/#.UT4kL45qrfg
[22] http://www.antiwar.com/jamail/?articleid=8147
[23] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/icrc_iraq.pdf
[24] http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/06221-etn-hrf-dic-rep-web.pdf
[25] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2441
[26] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/06/pentagon-iraqi-torture-centres-link
[27] http://brusselstribunal.org/IraqUNHRC.htm
[28] http://www.army.mil/professionalWriting/volumes/volume4/february_2006/2_06_3.html
[29] http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-crimes-iraqs-red-crescent-under-attack-complicity-of-us-occupation-forces/5315862?print=1
[30] http://www.brusselstribunal.org/FullerJadiriyah.htm
[31] http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html
[32] http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/
[33] http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175426/nick_turse_a_secret_war_in_120_countries
[34] http://www.ifj.org/assets/docs/028/207/3e83f1c-fbfc2cf.pdf
[35] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/operation-condor-trial-begins-buenos-aires
[36] http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/8920
[37] http://www.ivaw.org/about
[38] http://www.alternet.org/tags/iraq-0
[39] http://www.alternet.org/tags/america
[40] http://www.alternet.org/tags/war-crimes
[41] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

The Day That TV News Died

by Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, March 25, 2013

Excerpt

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft—MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war—were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure…

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script…Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system—to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns…

What mattered then and what matters now is likability—known in television and advertising as the Q score—not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power….They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation’s most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd…Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard.”

Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary “Body of War” …about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young… Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. “Nobody sees the pain,” he said. “The war is sanitized.”… Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting….I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute.”

Full text

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place.

The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft—MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war—were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system—to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their “patriotic” roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews—who makes an estimated $5 million a year—did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.

It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability—known in television and advertising as the Q score—not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power. They do not speak about Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision that allows the government to use the military to hold U.S. citizens and strip them of due process. They do not decry the trashing of our most basic civil liberties, allowing acts such as warrantless wiretapping and executive orders for the assassination of U.S. citizens. They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation’s most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return. Television news looks as if it was lifted from Rudyard Kipling’s portrait of the Bandar-log monkeys in “The Jungle Book.” The Bandar-log, considered insane by the other animals in the jungle because of their complete self-absorption, lack of discipline and outsized vanity, chant in unison: “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true.”

When I reached him by phone recently in New York, Donahue said of the pressure the network put on him near the end, “It evolved into an absurdity.” He continued: “We were told we had to have two conservatives for every liberal on the show. I was considered a liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone but not Dennis Kucinich. You felt the tremendous fear corporate media had for being on an unpopular side during the ramp-up for a war. And let’s not forget that General Electric’s biggest customer at the time was Donald Rumsfeld [then the secretary of defense]. Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard.”

Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary “Body of War” with fellow director/producer Ellen Spiro, about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. The film, which Donahue funded himself, began when he accompanied Nader to visit Young in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“Here is this kid lying there whacked on morphine,” Donahue said. “His mother, as we are standing by the bed looking down, explained his injuries. ‘He is a T-4. The bullet came through the collarbone and exited between the shoulder blades. He is paralyzed from the nipples down.’ He was emaciated. His cheekbones were sticking out. He was as white as the sheets he was lying on. He was 24 years old. … I thought, ‘People should see this. This is awful.’ ”

Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. “Nobody sees the pain,” he said. “The war is sanitized.”

“I said, ‘Tomas, I want to make a movie that shows the pain, I want to make a movie that shows up close what war really means, but I can’t do it without your permission,’ ” Donahue remembered. “Tomas said, ‘I do too.’ ”

But once again Donahue ran into the corporate monolith: Commercial distributors proved reluctant to pick up the film. Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting. Distributors asked him who would go to see a film about someone in a wheelchair. Donahue managed to get openings in Chicago, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York, Washington and Boston, but the runs were painfully brief.

“I didn’t have the money to run full-page ads,” he said. “Hollywood often spends more on promotion than it does on the movie. And so we died. What happens now is that peace groups are showing it. We opened the Veterans for Peace convention in Miami. Failure is not unfamiliar to me. And yet, I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute.

Copyright © 2013 Truthdig, L.L.C.

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/03/25-0

The Siren Song Of War: Why Pundits Beat The Drums For Iraq

by Kathleen Geier, nationalmemo.com, March 22, 2013 

Excerpt

Pundits like to imagine that they take political positions only after a careful consideration of the merits — listening to arguments, studying position papers, weighing the pros and cons, and coming to a decision.

But politics is not necessarily so rational, and never was irrationality more plainly on display than in the months leading up to the Iraq War. Ten years later, it is worth exploring why so many opinion-makers – including those who were otherwise critical of the Bush administration — passionately advocated war.

For at least some leading pundits, their position seems to have been shaped less by “reason” or “ideas” than something more primal and even tribal, reflecting their fantasies about who they imagined themselves to be. What follows is a taxonomy of certain pundits on the center and the left who, to their eternal shame, beat the drums of war — hard…Matthew Yglesias…Dan Savage…Christopher Hitchens…Paul Berman…David Rieff…Peter Beinart…Thomas Friedman…

Next up are those heroic journalists – sometimes dubbed the “Keyboard Commandos” — who wanted to re-fight World War II in Iraq. This crew saw Islam as a noxious, world-conquering ideology akin to Nazism: Islamofascism, as the late Christopher Hitchens once coined it. He and Andrew Sullivan flattered themselves as intellectual heirs of George Orwell, saving the world from both fascism and left-wing appeasers. Sullivan’s smearing of war opponents as a “fifth column” made that abundantly clear……The inability of these pundits to think straight may simply be a symptom of narcissism poisoning. For them, invasion and war were all about presenting their preferred face to the world — and to themselves. Henry James once wrote that a writer should be “one of the people on whom nothing is lost.” For these pundits, everything was lost — everything, that is, but their own overgrown egos.

Full text

Pundits like to imagine that they take political positions only after a careful consideration of the merits — listening to arguments, studying position papers, weighing the pros and cons, and coming to a decision.

But politics is not necessarily so rational, and never was irrationality more plainly on display than in the months leading up to the Iraq War. Ten years later, it is worth exploring why so many opinion-makers – including those who were otherwise critical of the Bush administration — passionately advocated war.

For at least some leading pundits, their position seems to have been shaped less by “reason” or “ideas” than something more primal and even tribal, reflecting their fantasies about who they imagined themselves to be. What follows is a taxonomy of certain pundits on the center and the left who, to their eternal shame, beat the drums of war — hard.

First let’s consider the contrarians. Young Matthew Yglesias, who was in college at the time and thus deserves to be excused, wrote a refreshingly honest piece that noted the seductions of contrarianism: “Being for the war was a way to simultaneously be a free-thinking dissident in the context of a college campus and also be on the side of the country’s power elite.” It was easy to feel the glow of being an utterly unique snowflake, and yet at the same time to join the establishment. How special!

What Yglesias calls the“fake-dissident posture” held a powerful allure for war supporter Dan Savage as well. Reading between the lines of his stridently pro-war 2003 column, it’s clear that the anti-war types worked his last nerve. Everything about them is uncool — their posters are “sad-looking” and their slogans are cheesy. True, the left can be deeply irritating. Protests are great, but why can’t the organizers come up with better music? Yet that’s a stunningly shallow reason to support a brutal war that left over100,000 people dead.

Next up are those heroic journalists – sometimes dubbed the “Keyboard Commandos” — who wanted to re-fight World War II in Iraq. This crew saw Islam as a noxious, world-conquering ideology akin to Nazism: Islamofascism, as the late Christopher Hitchens once coined it. He and Andrew Sullivan flattered themselves as intellectual heirs of George Orwell, saving the world from both fascism and left-wing appeasers. Sullivan’s smearing of war opponents as a “fifth column” made that abundantly clear.

Paul Berman was another journalist who tirelessly refought the good war from his armchair. As he explained in a roundtable, Iraq was important because it provided an opportunity for intellectuals to “speak up.” How lovely for them! Admittedly, says Berman, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were “counterproductive in some respects,” because “for a while, they appeared to discredit the notion of liberal democracy, which was dreadful. This, apart from the deaths and suffering.” [emphasis added].

On the tape, writer David Rieff is aghast: “All this to raise the issue of liberal democracy? My God, man!” My God, indeed.

Let’s not neglect the pundits of the so-called “decent left.” Obsessed with preserving the martial virtue of the Democratic Party, these types zealously advocated a militaristic version of liberalism.  Peter Beinart, then editor of The New Republic, figured prominently in this group. To Beinart, opponents of the Iraq War were guilty of  “abject pacifism”, and he all but advocated purging them from the Democratic Party, Cold War-style. They might be liberals, but wanted the world to know they were respectable thinkers– not filthy hippies.

The next group, the ones I call the crusading superheroes, advocated intervening in Iraq on humanitarian grounds. They envisioned themselves sweeping into the country like red, white, and blue-clad Captain Americas, ridding the country of evil supervillain Saddam Hussein and spreading democracy and prosperity to a grateful nation. George Packer, who as late as 2005 was claiming the war was still “winnable,” was among the most prominent of these. The compulsion of these types to cast themselves as saviors made them blind to what anyone with eyes could see: Iraq was never a promising case for intervention, as the real experts on the region were desperately trying to tell people. But facts, schmacts — what these guys were jonesing for was an occasion to assert their moral purity.

Finally, there’s the most powerful, if most deeply buried justification of all: Iraq provided an opportunity for dweebish, pasty, desk-bound dudes to indulge in macho daydreams. Throughout history, men have asserted masculine dominance through imperial adventures. While few liberal female pundits were pro-war, many centrist and liberal men were unable to resist the war’s siren call.

The most infamous example of  such macho knucklehead punditry is Thomas Friedman’s 2003 appearance on The Charlie Rose Show. The war, he said then, was “unquestionably worth doing” so we could tell the Iraqis to “suck on this.” Commentary so inane and puerile would sound outrageous coming out of the mouth of Friedman’s fictional look-alike Ron Burgundy; that an actual, Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times columnist said it simply boggles the mind.

By 2011, writing as the last American troops pulled out of Iraq, Friedman’s macho swagger had completely vanished. Was the war a wise choice? “My answer is twofold: ‘No’ and ‘Maybe, sort of, we’ll see.’ ” Weasel words don’t get any more weaselly. This week he said merely that America “paid too much” for the war.

Writing this week in The New Yorker, Packer admits “the war was a disaster for Iraq and the U.S. alike. It was conceived in deceit and born in hubris.” Note the passive voice — he takes no personal responsibility for helping to foment the media stampede into war.

For what it’s worth, Beinart eventually saw the war as a tragic mistake. But his repentance came far too late. But Berman clearly has learned nothing and has no regrets. He wrote in The New Republic this week that “the isolationist alternative” to the war was “fantastical nonsense.”

Sullivan eventually denounced the war as tragically wrong – but in the early days, when it actually mattered, he was among its most obnoxious cheerleaders. His buddy Hitchens died in 2011, without ever having second thoughts about Iraq.

As for Dan Savage, his position grew more ambivalent within six months after that highly belligerent column —  but he doesn’t seem to have written a word about Iraq since then.

The inability of these pundits to think straight may simply be a symptom of narcissism poisoning. For them, invasion and war were all about presenting their preferred face to the world — and to themselves. Henry James once wrote that a writer should be “one of the people on whom nothing is lost.” For these pundits, everything was lost — everything, that is, but their own overgrown egos.

http://www.nationalmemo.com/the-siren-song-of-war-why-pundits-beat-the-drums-for-iraq/2/

Ten years of questions, outrage, tragedy, grief and change – The Iraq War

ProgressiveValues.org e-letter by Phyllis Stenerson, February 15, 2013

Ten years ago today – February 15 – millions of people around the globe took to the streets to protest the planned invasion of Iraq. With an estimated six to ten million people participating, it is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history.

The invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003. The world was forever changed in countless ways. We embarked upon a new chapter in America’s story that is still unfolding.

For many of us, this event launched a new chapter in our own personal stories. I was flabbergasted and outraged, sending me on a mission to figure out why and how this disastrous decision could have been made by my government. It has grown into wisdom for the future.

Now, ten years later, I have insights but questions remain and I expect new information will continue to be revealed. To manage the voluminous data, I developed a framework so material could be sorted into categories. Highlights are posted for public review on my website www.ProgressiveValues.org. Much of the information has been found on excellent sources on the internet demonstrating the essential role of new media and the progressive movement in saving and revitalizing our democracy. I think of this as having a conversation with many diverse voices.

Pulling this together into a cohesive narrative is a work-in-progress. The story of America’s preemptive war on Iraq – and the aftermath – connects with virtually every facet of American history, government and culture. My focus is on contrasting worldviews, how values affect and are affected by American policy, with an emphasis on the intersection of politics and religion/spirituality. It’s absolutely fascinating. Implications for the future are critically important. Optimism for the future is based on the fact that we’re becoming increasingly knowledgeable and there are a lot of very smart people deeply concerned and engaged.

The website is a start and I now want to collaborate with an established non-profit organization. If you know of any potential connections, please contact me. I want to hear about related work being done by others.
Phyllis Stenerson – phyllis@progressivevalues.org

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Hubris: Selling the Iraq War hosted by Rachel Maddow
premieres February 18 at 9pm ET on MSNBC.

The tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War is March 20.  Even after all this time there are important questions unanswered about how and why this government decision was made. The new documentary called Hubris: Selling the Iraq War is based on the book Hubris, co-written by NBC News National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff and MSNBC contributor and Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn

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“Our movement changed history. While we did not prevent the Iraq war, the protests proved its clear illegality, demonstrated the isolation of the Bush administration policies, helped prevent war in Iran, and inspired a generation of activists.”  Phyllis Bennis, The Day the World  Said No To War , CommonDreams.org

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Today the real test of power is not the capacity to make war but the capacity to prevent it. Anne O’Hare McCormick

Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked, and we who fail to prevent them, must share the guilt for the dead. General Omar Bradley

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. Jimi Hendrix

Either war is obsolete or people are. R. Buckminster Fuller

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it. Dwight D. Eisenhower

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. Eleanor Roosevelt

http://p0.vresp.com/bQJcTZ