I originally published this as a Facebook note on March 19th, 2013.
Ten years ago today, on March 19th, 2003, the neocons in control of the White House and the Pentagon saw the realization of their conspiratorial plot to send our country into war come to fruition as our military forces began the invasion of Iraq. During the build-up to the war, there were many incessantly repeated rationales given for why the United States needed to go to war with Iraq. The variance of propaganda delivered often depended on the carefully selected messenger, day, audience and the source providing the forum for these war criminals to bang the drums and offer up their virtually unchallenged messaging.
The sheer number and scope of reasons the Bush regime gave publicly for the necessity of War in Iraq are staggering:
Yellow cake uranium that Iraq attempted to purchase on the black market in Niger; Mobile biological weapons labs; U.N. weapons inspectors' findings couldn't be given credence because the Iraqi government had merely hidden their caches; Spreading freedom around the world; Preemptively stopping future threats to, and attacks against, the United States, Israel and Western interests; Starting the domino effect of democracy throughout the Middle East via "regime change"; Liberating the Iraqi people; Being welcomed by the Iraqi people as liberators, not invaders and/or occupiers; Removing from power a brutal, tyrannical dictator in Saddam Hussein; Revenge for an Iraqi governmental plot to assassinate then-President George H.W. Bush over a decade earlier; Access to an abundance of rich, oil resources that would allow the war to pay for itself; A war that would only last a matter of months and a transitional occupation that would only last an additional matter of months; Futility of long-running economic sanctions already imposed on Iraq; The words of supposedly trustworthy CIA sources on the ground; 9/11; Opening up a new front as part of a continuation of the ongoing, global "War on Terror" already being waged in Afghanistan and on the Afghan/Pakistani border; Saddam's and the Ba'ath Party's ties to Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda terrorist network; al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq; most importantly, Iraq's stockpile of nuclear, chemical and biological WMDs.
Many of these arguments and assertions were either flat-out lies by the Bush regime or were based on known falsehoods. Many of these claims simply disregarded any information provided to the warmongers by their own intelligence experts when that information otherwise disproved their preconceived notions and/or would have weakened the narrative of their justification for war. Many of these predictions turned out to be horrifically miscalculated and other claims were later wholly discredited. Many of these claims were nothing more than talking points intended to appeal to the American public's faux sense of patriotism, latent xenophobia and base emotions, most notably fear, in the recently post-9/11 world of the USA PATRIOT Act and terrorism threat levels.
Most egregiously, the citizens, veterans, journalists and politicans from within the United States and around the world who courageously stood up prior to March 19th, 2003 and spoke out against this war with passion and great skepticism while viewing the events through the prism that comes with an understanding of history, were virtually ignored. The corporate media outlets of all stripes, from Fox News to the pages of the New York Times, often provided their own mallets to shamelessly bang the drums of war in lockstep right along with the Bushies.
"Shock and Awe" as broadcast to the world on March 19th, 2003
There were no ties between Iraq and the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2011. There were no ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. There was no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. There was no attempt to purchase "yellow cake" in Niger. There was no Middle Eastern "domino effect" of democracy created by our invasion. For the most part, we were not greeted as heroic liberators by the Iraqi people, but we WERE viewed as an invading, occupying force interfering with their sovereignty. The abundance of Iraqi oil did NOT pay for the war. The war that was supposed to have been over in a matter of months dragged on for nearly 9 years after Bush's ignominious May 1st, 2003 "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. We did not spread freedom to Iraq, but we did sow chaos by sparking an insurgency AND a sectarian Civil War. The sanctions we had previously imposed had crippled Iraq's economy and created a poverty-laden humanitarian crisis. Sources like "Curveball" and Ahmad Chalabi, who provided critical information as "proof" of WMDs and ties to al-Qaeda, turned out to be lying pieces of shit. THERE.WERE.NO.WEAPONS.OF.MASS.DESTRUCTION.
For all of the lies, mistakes, cover-ups, corporate giveaways, corruption, miscalculations, blunders, tragedy, terror and death that marred the build-up to, and propagation of, the War in Iraq, none of the major perpetrators that created this war ever faced legal consequences. Not President George W. Bush, not Vice President Dick Cheney, not Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, not Secretary of State Colin Powell, not National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, not Attorney General John Ashcroft, not Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, not Bush Senior Adviser Karl Rove. They have since been lambasted in the court of public opinion and the history books will not look kindly upon their actions nor will they look kindly upon Dubya's presidency. However, the war criminals responsible for flippantly and unconscionably sending our nation's troops into harm's way while plunging the citizens of Iraq into a hellaciously chaotic shitstorm all moved on to very prominent, and often lucrative, new careers.
Here is the devastation wreaked by the illegal Iraq War those "leaders" worked so diligently to engineer:
-4,488 American servicemen and women dead
-More than 30,000 American servicemen and women wounded
-Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed during the course of the invasion, occupation, insurgency and Civil War
-More than 1,500 private, civilian contractors dead and the number continues to rise
-Countless numbers of returning veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and facing systemic governmental and societal problems that have allowed them to fall through the cracks, health-wise, employment-wise and housing-wise
-Trillions of dollars racked up in costs to American taxpayers for an unfunded war, contributing mightily to the massive accumulation of federal debt and emboldening the national right-wing push for draconian austerity measures in response
-Nearly 9 years at war and a maintained presence of thousands of civilian contractors after American troop withdrawals
-Iraq became a prime destination and live-action training ground for international Islamic jihadists who streamed into the country looking to hone their murderous methods directed against Coalition troops, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens
-The formation of an al-Qaeda in Iraq network, where one had not previously existed
-An international community in which the United States alienated allies, greatly increased hostilities directed towards our government and citizens, and further damaged its reputation in a manner that may never be repaired
-After diverting resources and hundreds of thousands of troops away from the War in Afghanistan to fight in Iraq from 2003-2011, the American military finds itself still mired in Afghanistan, nearly 12 years into its occupation and with full withdrawal of troops not even on the horizon.
All of that death and despair mixed with more than a few shades of Vietnam and wrapped into my generation's 21st century version of an unwinnable war. All of that deceit, incompetence and a plethora of false pretenses to ensure that Bush, Cheney and company could keep the wheels greased for the war profiteers. All of that physical and mental devastation combined with unreptentant greed to ensure that the Military-Industrial Complex former WWII Supreme Allied Commander and then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about, would keep churning on, always and forever.
We currently find the United States government embroiled in another devastating military quagmire in Afghanistan, with military personnel in hundreds of countries, military bases in over 60 countries, and shadowy drones patrolling the skies and striking targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq. The same war drum we heard so rhythmically hammered into our brains in the lead-up to the War in Iraq is quietly building for action against Iran, being pushed by many of the same war hawks responsible for promoting "regime change" in Iraq over a decade ago.
Ten years later, the mental images of watching live-feeds of "Shock and Awe" and of hundreds of thousands of troops and embedded journalists pouring across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq still resonate and bring the same tears of sadness I experienced that day in 2003. Although I hope we never forget the tragedy that was the War in Iraq, I fear the embedded power of the Military-Industrial Complex will simply turn up the intensity on the drums and drown out the collective memory of such a colossal sell-out of the American public and humanity. May our country's leaders finally learn from history's mistakes this time, so as not to be doomed to repeat them as they have so many times before. I surely won't be holding my breath.