October 5, 2004
|MAUREEN FARRELL ARCHIVES|
The New Right and Old Wrongs:
"Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why." –Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, on the Vietnam War, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, 1995
"It's just wrong what we're doing. It's morally wrong, it's politically wrong, it's economically wrong." -- Robert McNamara, on the war in Iraq, the Globe and Mail, Jan. 24, 2004
"If the Bush administration remains in power, failure in Iraq is a virtual certainty." -- Retired Air Force Col. and former military planner Mike Turner, Newsweek, Sept. 24, 2004
* * *
Now that Operation Iraqi Freedom has become Operation American Quagmire, it’s remarkable how accurately a spattering of journalists, citizens and whistleblowers saw what was really going on beforehand -- a sizable feat considering the media's perpetual airing of WMD and other propaganda.
"There is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. You never even get that idea floated in the mainstream media. If you bring it up, they hate the messenger. You've ruined everyone's good time," Janeane Garofalo said on the eve of war, in an article on how the prewar "debate" became a cartoon.
And though such flashes of insight are now relegated to yesterday’s news (or tomorrow’s, considering CBS’ decision to postpone a story on the war rationale), it’s important to understand the role hubris, incompetence and deception played in all of this. And while reviewing such things can be as painful as watching replays of that ball going through Bill Buckner’s legs, we need to consider what went wrong, as the consequences of continued ignorance are far graver than any Bambino’s curse.
How did we get here? How were we so readily duped by those who are, technically, supposed to be working for us? With the election fast approaching, we better figure it out. And with that in mind, here's an A to Z guide to help sort through this mess:
A is for Agenda
March 2002: "Saddam Hussein is not a threat to the U.S. . . The experts say that Saddam doesn't have the capacity to manufacture weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- and even if he could and even if he could somehow acquire that capacity, he certainly doesn't have the capacity to deliver them. . . The whole weapons inspection issue is really just a ruse. The real agenda of the Bush administration is a regime change. . . It has nothing to do with the U.N. or weapons inspectors or even human rights."-- Former U.N. official Denis Halliday, Salon.com, March 20, 2002 (a year before the start of the war in Iraq).
Update: While prewar speculation about the Bush administration's real agenda was rampant, by the time Colin Powell tried to sell the war to our allies, few were buying. "We think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off with a different leader, a different regime," Powell said, mindful that "regime change" violated both allies' trust and international law. "But the principal offense here is weapons of mass destruction, and that's what this [U.N.] resolution is working on. . .All we are interested in is getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction," Powell fibbed.).
B is for the Beginning
Feb. 2003: "When George Bush was running for president, he essentially went to school. And various great and worthy men trooped down to Austin to teach George Bush about the world. And by and large, they told him that Iraq was unfinished, basically, but they had to be a little careful about it because, of course, George Bush's father was the one who hadn't finished the business. And if George W. Bush was elected president, he may end up having to do what his father didn't do or couldn't do and that is killing off Saddam Hussein." – Newsweek Asst. Managing Editor Evan Thomas, "The War Behind Closed Doors," PBS Feb., 2003
Update: Though George W.'s dad had accurately predicted that finishing the job would transform the U.S. into "an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land," the younger Bush used 9/11 as a springboard to do just that. And though Richard Clarke was vilified for saying that plans to attack Iraq began in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Clarke was eventually vindicated.
C is for Chalabi
Jan. 2002: "The UN stopped using [Ahmed] Chalabi's information as a basis for conducting inspections once the tenuous nature of his sources and his dubious motivations became clear. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mainstream US media. . . This media coverage serves policy figures gunning for a wider war. . . Rather than relying on information from dubious sources, let's put all the facts on the table. The conclusions drawn from such a debate could pull us back from the brink of an unnecessary and costly war." – Scott Ritter, "Iraq: The Phantom Threat," the Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 23, 2002
Update: The 2000 GOP platform, which wagged a finger at the Clinton administration for failing to coddle Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, foreshadowed the shortsightedness to come. In time, Chalabi’s disinformation wormed its way into the New York Times, into the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, and possibly into the President's heart and mind.
"CIA assessments are being put aside by the defense department in favor of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles," former CIA counterintelligence chief Vincent Cannistraro told the Guardian in Oct. 2002. "Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now."
D is for Democracy:
April 2003: "Four days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz made a forceful case to President Bush for expanding the war on terrorism to include the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. . . . But getting rid of Hussein was only part of the Wolfowitz vision. With U.S. forces poised on the outskirts of Baghdad, an even bigger, and in some ways more controversial, challenge now awaits: creating a free, stable and democratic Iraq that will serve as an inspiration to its neighbors. . ."I have never seen so much loose thinking about democracy," countered [scholar] Thomas Carothers. . ."The idea that you can produce a democratic tidal wave throughout the Arab world is a dangerous fantasy. What we are ending up producing is incredible hatred." -- "For Wolfowitz, a Vision May Be Realized," the Washington Post, April 7, 2003
Update: "Is our democracy that fragile that it can be taken over so quickly?" Seymour Hersh recently asked Jon Stewart, referring to the neoconservative "Utopians" who "took over the country, like coup." Saying that "8 or 9 guys" truly believed that "democracy would flow like water out of a fountain," Hersh underscored the absurdity of subverting our own democratic process to create democracy in Iraq -- a point driven home by Wall Street Journal reporter Farna Fasshi's letter home from Baghdad.
"I went to see an Iraqi scholar this week to talk to him about elections here. . . ," she wrote. "He said, 'President Bush wanted to turn Iraq into a democracy that would be an example for the Middle East. Forget about democracy, forget about being a model for the region, we have to salvage Iraq before all is lost.'
"One could argue that Iraq is already lost beyond salvation," she added. "For those of us on the ground it's hard to imagine what if any thing could salvage it from its violent downward spiral. The genie of terrorism, chaos and mayhem has been unleashed onto this country as a result of American mistakes and it can't be put back into a bottle."
E is for Energy Task Force
July 2003: "Documents released under America's Freedom of Information Act reveal that an energy task force led by vice-president Dick Cheney was examining Iraq's oil assets two years before the latest war began. . . The 16 pages, dated March 2001, show maps of Iraq oil fields, pipelines, refineries and terminals. .. . Mr. Cheney has fought the release of the documents at every stage." -- "Cheney Had Iraq in Sights Two Years Ago," the Telegraph, July, 22, 2003
Update: "The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States," Dick Cheney once said, condemning U.S. sanctions placed on Iraq, Iran and other oil-rich countries. ("You've got to go where the oil is," he advised, and, as the Village Voice reminded, "Halliburton has continued to do just that." )
But oil envy extends beyond the here and now. "Three decades ago, in the throes of the energy crisis, Washington's hawks conceived of a strategy for US control of the Persian Gulf's oil," Mother Jones reminded. "Now, with the same strategists firmly in control of the White House, the Bush administration is playing out their script for global dominance."
F is for Fear Mongering
Oct. 2002: "In spelling out the dangers posed by terrorism, which may be defined as the use of fear and violence to attain political ends, Mr. Bush used fear and the threat of violence to promote his policy. Since when has it been the proper function of an American president to scare the children? -- Simon Tisdall, "America's Great Misleader, " the Guardian, Oct. 8, 2002
Update: Remember duct tape silliness? Or the Bush administration's oft-repeated mushroom cloud chants? Or the way terror alerts and dirty bomb suspects preempted other news? (See, Rowley, Colleen). Though the media finally started questioning the timing of such alerts, that didn't stop Dick Cheney from insinuating that "we’ll get hit again" should Kerry win the election. And while "security moms" might be easily swayed by such tactics, those duped into thinking Bush is the safest bet might learn too late that their kids have a higher chance of being drafted than of being iced by "Islamofascists."
G is for Guerilla War
Dec. 2002: "Iraqis I've talked to at the top-most level say they envision sort of a guerilla conflict in picking off American troops at street corners, you know, launching terror attacks on different units. . . any Iraqi you talk to here just doesn't understand this talk about weapons of mass destruction. No one that I've talked to believes that he [Saddam] has any here. . . I don't think any Iraqi would object to weapons inspectors poking in every corner if that meant avoiding war. The average Iraqi, Chris, is expecting war." -- Peter Arnett, the Chris Matthews Show, Dec. 7-8, 2002
Update: "Iraqis like to call this mess 'the situation.' When asked 'how are things?' they reply: 'the situation is very bad.". . . The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone," the Wall Street Journal's Farna Fasshi revealed. Meanwhile, writing for Newsweek, military-policy planner Mike Turner explained:
H is for History
March 2003: "From Napoleon's drive into Egypt through Britain's rule of Iraq in the 1920s to Israel's march into Lebanon in 1982, Middle East nations have tempted conquerors only to send them reeling. . . Again and again, Westerners have moved into the Mideast with confidence that they can impose freedom and modernity through military force. Along the way they have miscalculated support for their invasions, both internationally and in the lands they occupy. . . They have been mired in occupations that last long after local support has vanished. They have met with bloody uprisings and put them down with brute force.. . Mr. Bush says this invasion will be different. . . Napoleon proclaimed a similar new era of equality and respect for 'true Muslims' as he marched into Cairo in 1798, killing a thousand members of Egypt's ruling caste. . . 'Peoples of Egypt, you will be told that I have come to destroy your religion,' said Napoleon as he entered Cairo. 'Do not believe it! Reply that I have come to restore your rights!'" – "Mideast Invasions Face Unexpected Peril," the Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2003
Update: In related historical news, the people of Baghdad were treated to a similar proclamation, signed by British General F.S. Maude on March 19, 1917, which declared "our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators."
Before the war began, Boston University historian David Fromkin made a simple observation. "We tend to overlook a basic rule: that people prefer bad rule by their own kind to good rule by somebody else," he told the Wall Street Journal. And now, as WSJ reporter Fasshi candidly explained: "Iraqis say that at thanks to America they got freedom in exchange for insecurity. Guess what? They say they'd take security over freedom any day, even if it means having a dictator ruler. I heard an educated Iraqi say today that if Saddam Hussein were allowed to run for elections he would get the majority of the vote. This is truly sad."
I is for intelligence
Oct. 2002: "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence. . . Mr. Cannistraro said the flow of intelligence to the top levels of the administration had been deliberately skewed by hawks at the Pentagon." -- Julian Borger, "White House 'Exaggerating Iraqi Threat'," the Guardian, Oct. 9, 2002
Update: In Sept. 2002, while describing how babies in incubators helped sell the first Gulf War, the Christian Science Monitor's Tom Regan warned, "it serves us all well if we make sure the reasons we go [to war] are legitimate ones, and not ones cooked up. . . ", but alas, the folks at the Office of Special Plans were already in the kitchen and were as busy as Keebler elves.
This time, in lieu of discarded infants, discredited nuclear hype helped scare people into supporting the war. Last June, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern credited Judith Miller's legendary "aluminum tubes as centrifuge" front page New York Times story with helping the President make his case to Congress and providing the impetus for war. On Oct. 3, 2004, the New York Times reported that this information had been debunked in 2002.
J is for Jeffords
Oct. 2002: "I am very disturbed by President Bush's determination that the threat from Iraq is so severe and so immediate that we must rush to a military solution. I do not see it that way. I have been briefed several times by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, CIA Director Tenet and other top Administration officials. I have discussed this issue with the President. I have heard nothing that convinces me that an immediate preemptive military strike is necessary or that it would further our interests in the long term. " – Sen. Jim Jeffords, "Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords, Senate Resolution Authorizing the Use of Force Against Iraq," Oct. 8, 2002
Update: Reciting a laundry list of concerns, Sen. Jeffords would later say, "What makes the actions of the Bush administration so troublesome is the lack of honesty. It amounts, in the end, to a pattern of deception and distortion."
K is for Kristol
March 2003: "Now that American bombs could soon be falling on Iraq, [Bill] Kristol admits to feeling ‘some sense of responsibility’ for pushing for a war that will cost human lives. But, he said, he would also feel responsible if ‘something terrible’ happened because of U.S. inaction. Kristol expressed regret that so many of America's traditional allies oppose military action against Iraq, but said the United States has no choice. ‘I think what we've learned over the last 10 years is that America has to lead. Other countries won't act. They will follow us, but they won't do it on their own,’ he said. Kristol believes the United States will be ‘vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq.’ He predicts that many of the allies who have been reluctant to join the war effort would participate in efforts to rebuild and democratize Iraq." – "The Plan: Were Neo-Conservatives’ 1998 Memos a Blueprint for Iraq War?," ABC News, March 10, 2003
Update: Bill Kristol proves time and again that many of the myths about the neocons are true. In fact, Kristol was laying the groundwork for war even before G.W. Bush took office. "If Saddam had nuclear weapons with missiles, which he could well have in two or three years, are we going to intervene in Kuwait next time?," he said in July, 2000.
L is for Lies
Sept. 2002: "This administration is capable of any lie ... in order to advance its war goal in Iraq. It is one of the reasons it doesn't want to have UN weapons inspectors go back in, because they might actually show that the probability of Iraq having [threatening illicit weapons] is much lower than they want us to believe." – An anonymous U.S. government source, "In War, Some Facts Less Factual," the Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 6, 2002
Update: "These are all the same people who were running it [the prewar propaganda] more than 10 years ago. They'll make up just about anything ... to get their way," author John MacArthur said of Bush retreads. And sure enough, after the smoke cleared, the U.K. Independent chronicled "20 Lies About the War," while Christopher Scheer listed "Ten Appalling Lies We Were Told About Iraq."
M is for Media
Dec. 2002: "Last week brought yet another terrifying headline from an American newspaper: 'US suspects al-Qaida got nerve agent from Iraqis'. . . This particular story was more tempting than many because it carried, as the American military would say, a multiple warhead. It not only suggested that Iraq - contrary to its recent declaration - does possess chemical weapons but, additionally, that it has close links with al-Qaida. . . One day, perhaps, one of these scare stories may turn out to be true - but don't hold your breath waiting for it." – Brian Whitaker, "The Papers That Cried Wolf," the Guardian, Dec. 16, 2002
Update: In the war's wake, everyone from op-ed writers to American icons commented on how ill-served we were by the U.S. press -- a practice that continues as the government goes to extremes to censor news out of Iraq.
But Denis Halliday's assessment rings particularly true. "American foreign policy is not understood by the vast majority of American people," he said. "And that this is due to a media that in this country is suppressed by Washington and by the owners of this media, who often tend to be corporate entities close to the [White House] and very often are arms manufacturers with a vested interest in chaos [in] the Middle East."
N is for Neoconservatives
Sept. 2002: "The neoconservatives around George Bush are crazy. They actually believe the United States can run about the world, overthrowing governments by force and establishing democracies in their place. . . This crowd has the gall to sneer at people trying to keep the United States out of war as being 'appeasers,' if not traitors. They act as if it were brave for a fat, pale-skinned journalist or commentator to advocate war that will be fought by other people's sons and daughters. It is the worst kind of moral cowardice to be for war if you yourself are not going to participate in the fighting." – Charley Reese, "Neoconservatives are Crazy," Sept. 27, 2002
Update: Others have argued that it’s crazy to call the neocons crazy.
O is for O'Reilly
March, 2003: [BILL] O'REILLY: If you are wrong [about the war in Iraq]… and if the United States - and they will, this is going to happen - goes in, liberates Iraq [with] people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers… you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?
[JANEANE] GAROFALO: I would be so willing to say, ‘I'm sorry’. I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, ‘You were wrong. You were a fatalist’. And I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, ‘Hey, you and Thomas Friedman were right… I shouldn't have doubted you.’ - "The Pulse," FOX News, March 6, 2003
Update: O'Reilly is still wrong.
P is for Project for a New American Century
Feb. 2003: "The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC, is a Washington-based think tank created in 1997.. . In what way does PNAC stand above the other groups that would set American foreign policy if they could? Two events brought PNAC into the mainstream of American government: the disputed election of George W. Bush, and the attacks of September 11th. . . Iraq is but the beginning, a pretense for a wider conflict. Donald Kagan, a central member of PNAC, sees America establishing permanent military bases in Iraq after the war. . . The American people, anxiously awaiting some sort of exit plan after America defeats Iraq, will see too late that no exit is planned." - William Rivers Pitt, "Of Gods and Mortals and Empire," Truthout.org, Feb. 21, 2003
Update: In his bittersweet piece, "Farewell, America," British journalist Ed Vulliamy described the inner workings of the Project for a New American Century. "It is incumbent upon journalists, I think, to distrust conspiracy theories. But the problem with the conspiracy theory of the machine that lifted George 'Dubya' Bush to high office is that it never lets you down," he wrote, before discussing PNAC's cast of characters ("[Dick] Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Douglas Feith") and the anticipated 'new Pearl Harbor' that brought their dream to fruition.
Fourteen slated "enduring bases" later, however, it is not wholly accurate to call PNAC a conspiracy, as conspiracies, by definition, are shadowy and hidden. "I think it's the worst kept secret in Washington. That everybody - everybody I talk to in Washington has known and fully knows what their agenda was and what they were trying to do," Gen. Anthony Zinni said.
Q is for Quagmire
Aug. 2002: "Americans have a great stake in containing Saddam Hussein's aggressive instincts and deterring his use of weapons of mass destruction. But we have nothing to justify occupying Iraq and staying there as long as necessary to remake it in our image. The U.S. government is going to realize that reality sooner or later. Better to do so before we jump into the quagmire." – Steve Chapman, "The War in Iraq, and the Aftermath," Townhall.com, Aug. 5, 2002
Update: George Bush' s call for a humble foreign policy aside, in 2000, Condoleezza Rice warned against the kind of policies PNAC advocated, saying that acting as the world's policeman would "degrade capabilities" and "bog soldiers down in peacekeeping roles." Echoing Norman Schwarzkopf's concerns that the U.S. would become a "dinosaur in the tar pit," Dick Cheney also warned that taking our Saddam would lead to "tar baby" troubles. Meanwhile, Colin Powell issued similarly prescient statements. Given this, how can Sen. Teddy Kennedy's recent depiction of Iraq as a "quagmire" be considered a case of liberal hand-wringing?
R is for Reruns
March 2003: "Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, on Tuesday called on government officials to leak documents to Congress and the press showing the Bush administration is lying in building its case against Saddam Hussein. . . . "Don't wait until the bombs start falling," Ellsberg said. . . . "If you know the public is being lied to and you have documents to prove it, go to Congress and go to the press." -- "Pentagon Papers Leaker Seeks Leaks on Iraq," UPI, March 11, 2003
Update: "Surely there are officials in the present administration who recognize that the United States has been misled into a war in Iraq, but who have so far kept their silence - as I long did about the war in Vietnam. To them I have a personal message: don't repeat my mistakes. Don't wait until more troops are sent, and thousands more have died, before telling truths that could end a war and save lives. Do what I wish I had done in 1964: go to the press, to Congress, and document your claims."-- Daniel Ellsberg, "Truths Worth Telling," the New York Times, Sept. 28, 2004
S is for Saudis
Dec. 2001: "Many of the same American corporate executives who have reaped millions of dollars from arms and oil deals with the Saudi monarchy have served or currently serve at the highest levels of U.S. government, public records show. . . . Nowhere is the revolving U.S.-Saudi money wheel more evident than within President Bush's own coterie of foreign policy advisers, starting with the president's father, George H.W. Bush. At the same time that the elder Bush counsels his son on the ongoing war on terrorism, the former president remains a senior adviser to the Washington D.C.-based Carlyle Group. That influential investment bank has deep connections to the Saudi royal family as well as financial interests in U.S. defense firms hired by the kingdom to equip and train the Saudi military." -- "Bush Advisers Cashed in on Saudi Gravy Train," The Boston Herald, Dec. 11, 2001
Update: 28 censored pages notwithstanding, in a Jan. 2004 Los Angeles Times editorial, former Nixon strategist warned, "Between now and the November election, it's crucial that Americans come to understand how four generations of the current president's family have embroiled the United States in the Middle East through CIA connections, arms shipments, rogue banks, inherited war policies and personal financial links."
T is for Tactics
1989: "If the president goes to the American people and wraps himself in the American flag and lets Congress wrap itself in the white flag of surrender, the president will win.... The American people had never heard of Grenada. There was no reason why they should have. The reason we gave for the intervention--the risk to American medical students there--was phony but the reaction of the American people was absolutely and overwhelmingly favorable. They had no idea what was going on, but they backed the president. They always will." -- Irving Kristol, "The Fettered Presidency," 1989
Update: Staged statue topplings and "lucky finds" aside, Seymour Hersh addressed the notion that deception is necessary to achieve one’s political ends.
U is for UAVs
Oct. 2002: "In making his case on Monday, Mr. Bush made a startling claim that the Iraqi regime was developing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which "could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas". "We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States," he warned.
US military experts confirmed that Iraq had been converting eastern European trainer jets, known as L-29s, into drones, but said that with a maximum range of a few hundred miles they were no threat to targets in the US. "It doesn't make any sense to me if he meant United States territory," said Stephen Baker, a retired US navy rear admiral who assesses Iraqi military capabilities at the Washington-based Center for Defense Information." -- Julian Borger, "White House Exaggerating Iraqi Threat," the Guardian, Oct. 9, 2002
Update: Reaffirming why more Americans turned to the Guardian and the Web for news on Iraq, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Dick Polman yawned at Bush's whoppers on Iraq's phantom nuclear capabilities and its miracle UAVs. "But if most Americans seem unconcerned, presidential biographer Robert Dallek suggests a reason why: "We won. The war was brief, with few casualties. We rid the world of Saddam Hussein, with speed and efficiency, so whatever Bush said to make that happen doesn't seem so important."
1,000 casualties later, wouldn't it have been nice to have had a mainstream media that took its watchdog responsibilities more seriously?
V is for Veterans
March 2003: "We call upon you, the active duty and reservists, to follow your conscience and do the right thing. In the last Gulf War, as troops, we were ordered to murder from a safe distance. . . We remember the road to Basra -- the Highway of Death -- where we were ordered to kill fleeing Iraqis. We bulldozed trenches, burying people alive. The use of depleted uranium weapons left the battlefields radioactive.. . One in four Gulf War veterans is [now] disabled. . . If you choose to participate in the invasion of Iraq you will be part of an occupying army. Do you know what it is like to look into the eyes of a people that hate you to your core? " -- "A Veterans' Call to Conscience," in an open letter to U.S. troops, on the eve of war in Iraq"
Update: According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine "many of our troops in Iraq are struggling" with "roughly one in six" of all soldiers and Marines showing "signs of distress — ranging from anxiety, all the way to full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder." The Daily News has reported that soldiers are returning from Iraq "poisoned" by depleted uranium and, as USA Today reported, more veterans are seeing parallels between the War in Iraq and Vietnam.
W is for Wisdom
Oct. 2002: "[A] growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in [Bush’s] own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war. These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses -- including distorting his links to the al Qaeda terrorist network -- have overstated the extent of international support for attacking Iraq and have down played the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East.
They charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Hussein poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary." – "A Growing Number in Government Have Misgivings About Iraq Policy," the Baltimore Sun, Oct. 8, 2002
Update: "The U.S. occupation of Iraq is a debacle not because the government did no planning but because a vast amount of expert planning was willfully ignored by the people in charge." -- James Fallows, "Blind Into Baghdad," The Atlantic Monthly, Jan./Feb. 2004
X is for Xenophobia
Feb. 2003: "The "petulant prima donna of realpolitik" is leading the "axis of weasels", in "a chorus of cowards". It is an unholy alliance of "wimps" and ingrates which includes one country that is little more than a "mini-me minion", another that is in league with Cuba and Libya, with a bunch of "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" at the helm. Welcome to Europe, as viewed through the eyes of American commentators and newspapers yesterday, as Euro-bashing, and particularly anti-French sentiment, reached new heights. . ." -- "Wimps, Weasels and Monkeys - the US Media View of 'Perfidious France,'" the Guardian, Feb. 11, 2003
Update: After a Bush advisor anonymously told the New York Times that Sen. John Kerry "looks French," Rush Limbaugh et al picked up the xenophobic ball.
Y is for Yearning
Aug. 2003: 'The generosity of this once great country (of which I am now a product) is being obscured by a political fervor derived from something akin to the parody of the Communist manifesto that was around in the Sixties - 'What's yours is mine, and what's mine's my own.' I see a 'dauphin' in the White House while powerful figures range in the background, making resource theft a way of life... Meantime, I will stew in the poisonous atmosphere Karl Rove slides under my door each morning. I'll write a song or two, turn up the volume and bury my dead." -- John Cale, the Velvet Underground, quoted in the Guardian/Observer, "Farewell America," Aug. 14, 2003
Update: "God almighty! Is this the same planet I'd taken off from?" -- Yusuf Islam, "Something Bad Had Begun: The former Cat Stevens says he hasn't changed but the U.S. has," the LA Times, Sept. 28, 2004
Z is for Zinni
Aug. 2002: "Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni. . . said a war to bring down Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein would have numerous undesirable side effects. . . Zinni took a shot at the hawks, noting their lack of military experience. He ticked off several prominent military men who have expressed reservations about the war:. . .``It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way,'' he said, ``and all the others who have never fired a shot and are hot to go to war see it another way.'' -- "Gen. Zinni Says War With Iraq Is Unwise," the Tampa Tribune, Aug. 24, 2002
Update: "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption." -- Gen. Anthony Zinni, Battle Ready, 2004.
A Vietnam veteran, Zinni also sees parallels between Iraq and Vietnam. "We heard the garbage and the lies," he told a group of Marine Corps officers. "We saw the sacrifice, and we swore never again would we allow it to happen. . . And I ask you, is it happening again?"
Despite Donald Rumsfeld's
former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert
McNamara says, yes, it is.
Citing Washington's inability to understand Iraqi culture, and, as
a consequence, to foresee guerrilla war, he says that dismissal of
allies' concerns was yet another mistake. "And if we can't persuade
other nations with comparable values and comparable interests of the
merit of our course, we should reconsider the course, and very likely
change it," he said, echoing Zinni's assessment that "the
course is headed over Niagara Falls."
Things are so bad, in fact, that retired Air Force colonel and former military planner Mike Turner says that if Bush stays in the White House, we will, in all probability, lose this war. "This war is an exercise in colossal stupidity and hubris which has now cost more than 1,000 American military lives," he wrote. "And now, in a supreme act of truly breathtaking gall, this administration insists the only way to fix Iraq is to leave in power the very ones who created the nightmare."
"It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong," John Kerry said during last week's debate.
What will the future hold? In a month's time, we'll know.
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2004, Maureen Farrell