Tag Archives: Iraq War

The System Isn’t There To Protect Us From Criminals, It’s To Protect Criminals From Us, by Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone doesn’t go all gooey on people when they die, turning demons into angels. From Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Iraq war architect Donald Rumsfeld has died. Not in a prison cell in The Hague, not murdered by bombs or bullets, but peacefully in his home, surrounded by loved ones, a week and a half shy of his 89th birthday.

The imperial media are giving their fallen master a king’s tribute, with headlines describing the psychopathic war criminal as “a cunning leader“, “a man of honor and conviction“, or simply as “Former defense secretary at helm of Iraq, Afghanistan wars“.

The cancerous Washington Post, who just the other day mocked the life of the late antiwar hero Mike Gravel with an obituary branding him the “gadfly senator from Alaska with flair for the theatrical,” describes the child killer Rumsfeld as the “influential but controversial Bush defense secretary” in its headline about his death. 

The New York Times wasn’t much better. Take the headline “Mike Gravel, Unconventional Two-Term Alaska Senator, Dies at 91 — He made headlines by fighting for an oil pipeline and reading the Pentagon Papers aloud. After 25 years of obscurity, he re-emerged with a quixotic presidential campaign.” Compare this to the headline “Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary During Iraq War, Is Dead at 88 — Mr. Rumsfeld, who served four presidents, oversaw a war that many said should never have been fought. But he said the removal of Saddam Hussein had ‘created a more stable and secure world.’”

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Rachel Maddow is Bill O’Reilly, by Matt Taibbi

Egos and paychecks as big as Maddow’s and O’Reilly’s means never having to admit you were wrong. From Matt Taibbi at taibbi.substack.com:

After hyping a fake story for a year, cable’s leading anchor doesn’t blink and moves on to the next fable

If you’d told me back in 2005, when I first met Rachel Maddow, that the lightning-quick, ultra-smooth broadcaster would someday supplant Bill O’Reilly as the #1 name in cable news, I wouldn’t have been surprised, at all. But I’d have been shocked if you told me she got to the top by being Bill O’Reilly.

With Maddow in the lead role, MSNBC has become Fox, but somehow more craven, jingoistic, and shameless. If you don’t believe it, compare their narratives side by side, and see if you can spot a real difference between Bush-era Fox and Maddow’s MNSBC broadcasts from this past week.

On February 16, 2001, six months before 9/11, O’Reilly said on Fox, “You know, I don’t take Saddam Hussein all that seriously anymore, as far as a world threat.” He added, “Maybe I’m wrong and naive here. Should we be very frightened of this guy?”

Within two years, O’Reilly reversed course. He launched himself into an incredible 16-year run as the #1-rated star on cable by playing Madame DeFarge for the Bush/Cheney War on Terror. His show became a nighty fireside chat in which citizens tuned in to fulminate over stories of Saddam’s boundless evil, denounce traitorous unbelievers, and engage in McCarthyite interrogations of the insufficiently patriotic.

He moved the factual record by himself. On December 6, 2002, he told his audience: “I can’t, in good conscience, tell the American people that I know for sure that [Saddam] has smallpox or anthrax or he’s got nuclear or chemical and that he is ready to use that.”

But two months later, on February 17, 2003,* he was saying, “According to the U.N., he’s got anthrax, VX gas, ricin, and on and on.” Two weeks after that, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, O’Reilly was saying things like, “This guy we know has anthrax and VX and all this stuff.”

He furthermore announced that “Once the war against Saddam Hussein begins, we expect every American to support our military, and if you can’t do that, just shut up,” adding that “Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is underway will be considered enemies of the state by me.”

By the runup to the invasion, O’Reilly was berating anyone who even tried to suggest the WMD case was not airtight, or had the temerity to suggest that Saddam Hussein was not the equal of Hitler. “Whoa, whoa. It’s not Hitler?” he snapped in one broadcast. “What’s the difference?”

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Thoughts On The Iraq Invasion, by Caitlin Johnstone

Nothing rewards failure quite like politics, and in the US, nothing rewards failure quite like spectacular and deadly errors in foreign and military policy. Witness Iraq. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

It has now been eighteen years since the Iraq invasion, and I’m still not done raging about it. Nobody should be.

The reason it’s so important to stay enraged about Iraq is because it’s never been addressed or rectified in any real way whatsoever. All the corrupt mechanisms which led to the invasion are still in place and its consequences remain. It isn’t something that happened in the past.

The Iraq invasion feels kind of like if your dad had stood up at the dinner table, cut off your sister’s head in front of everyone, gone right back to eating and never suffered any consequences, and everyone just kind of forgot about it and carried on life like it never happened. The US-centralized empire is full of willful amnesiacs pretending they don’t remember Iraq because it’s currently politically convenient, and we must not let them do this. 

No institutional changes were made to ensure that the evils of the Iraq invasion wouldn’t be repeated. It’s one of those big, glaring problems people just decided to pretend is resolved, like racism

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No Matter the Liberal Metric Chosen, the Bush/Cheney Administration Was Far Worse Than Trump. By Glenn Greenwald

Bush and Cheney were criminals, Trump is not. From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

Fantasies of a Trump-led fascist coup have redounded to the benefit of many — especially those responsible for abuses far worse than those of the current president.

President Bush and Former American Vice President Dick Cheney in the Presidential Limousine. Image courtesy George W Bush/National Archives (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

That the liberal belief in and fear of a Trump-led fascist dictatorship and violent coup is actually a fantasy — a longing, a desire, a craving — has long been obvious.

The Democrats’ own actions proved that they never believed their own melodramatic and self-glorifying rhetoric about Trump as The New Hitler — from their leaders joining with the GOP to increase The Fascist Dictator’s domestic spying powers and military spending to their (correct) belief that the way to oust The Neo-Nazi Tyrant was through a peaceful and lawfully conducted democratic election in which vote totals and, if necessary, duly constituted courts would determine the next president.

The motives for concocting this Wagnerian fantasy about coups, dictatorship, concentration camps and civil war are numerous. Politics is boring, and your life unspectacular, if it’s dedicated to a goal as banal and uninspiring as empowering a septuagenarian career-politician — the centrist-authoritarian author of the 1994 Crime Bill, the credit card industry’s most loyal servant, and key Iraq War advocate — along with his tough-on-crime prosecutor-running-mate who always seems as if she just left a meeting of the Aetna Board of Directors where massive hikes in deductibles were approved.

Glory is available only if one can convincingly herald oneself as a front-line warrior risking it all to courageously battle unprecedented evil and a Nazi-like menace. But working to do nothing more than elect Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the rest of the painfully ordinary and mediocre corporatist and imperialist Democratic Party politicians through a standard American election? There’s no glory residing in that, no courage needed for it, to put it mildly.

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Every Presidential Election Since The Iraq War Has Featured Candidates Who Supported It, by Caitlin Johnstone

The Iraq War was truly a bipartisan clusterf*ck, supported by an overwhelming consensus of the high and the mighty. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The most powerful government on earth has still yet to have a single presidential election that doesn’t feature a prominent candidate who supported one of the most evil things that government has ever done.

The United States has done many, many profoundly evil things throughout its history, but the 2003 invasion of Iraq is surely in the top ten. It killed over a million human beings, destabilized an entire region, led to the rise of ISIS and Al Nusra and facilitated a rush of new Middle Eastern interventionism, all to no benefit for the American people whatsoever, and it is utterly unforgivable.

Yet there have been no consequences for it. No real changes of any kind were made to American military, governmental, political or media institutions to ensure that a similar atrocity never happens again, because the drivers of US foreign policy had every intention of doing it again. There weren’t even any real political consequences for it, as evidenced by the fact that politicians who supported it have been ascending to Democratic and Republican presidential nominee status ever since.

This is insane. The fact that every electoral contest for commander in chief of the most powerful military in the history of civilization has featured at least one candidate who supported one of the most evil things ever done in the blood-soaked history of their nation is too insane to really put into words. And it says so much about the state of the US political system today.

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Coronavirus Propaganda Mimics War Propaganda, by Jeff Deist

They both use a lot of lies to shape public opinion. From Jeff Deist at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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In the period leading up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration and its media accomplices waged a relentless propaganda campaign to win political support for what turned out to be one of the most disastrous foreign policy mistakes in American history.

Nearly two decades later, with perhaps a million dead Iraqis and thousands of dead American soldiers, we are still paying for that mistake.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, were key players behind the propaganda—which we can define as purposeful use of information and misinformation to manipulate public opinion in favor of state action. Iraq and its president Saddam Hussein were the ostensible focus, but their greater goal was to make the case for a broader and open-ended “War on Terror.” ​

So they created a narrative using a mélange of half-truths, faintly plausible fabrications, and outright lies:

– Iraq and the nefarious Saddam Hussein were “behind,” i.e., backing, the Saudi terrorists responsible for 9-11 attacks on the US;

– Hussein and his government were stockpiling yellowcake uranium in an effort to develop nuclear capability;

– Hussein was connected with al-Qaeda

– Iran was lurking in the background as a state sponsor of terrorism, coordinating and facilitating attacks against the US in coordination with Hamas;

– Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and other terror groups were working against the US across the Middle East in some kind of murky but coordinated effort;

– We have to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”;

– The Iraqis would welcome our troops as liberators.

And so forth.

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Has Nothing Been Learned Since 2003? Corporate Media Welcome Back Iraq War Hawks To Make Case for Iran, by Eoin Higgins

Nothing is more helpful for establishing establishment credentials than being consistently and spectacularly wrong about big issues, like the Iraq War in 2003. From Eoin Higgins at commondreams.org:

Former President George W. Bush's former press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared on Fox News January 2 to claim the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani would be welcomed by Iranians. It was not.

Former President George W. Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared on Fox News January 2 to claim the assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani would be welcomed by Iranians. It was not. (Image: Fox News/screenshot)

As President Donald Trump spent the early days of 2020 instigating and then backing down from a potentially catastrophic confrontation with Iran, corporate media in the U.S. turned to the very same people who promoted the country’s worst foreign policy disaster in a generation to advocate for repeating the mistakes of two decades ago.

The decision of networks and cable news outlets like CNNMSNBC, and Fox News to bring on a stream of past advocates for and architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was panned by progressives who watched in horror and frustration as the same arguments were deployed in service of all-out war with Iran.

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Doubling Down Into Yet Another ‘March of Folly,’ This Time on Iran, by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

The US strike against Iran and the assassination of Qassam Solemaini may provide some benefit to Israel and improve the political standing of Benjamin Netanyahu. No good will come of it for the US, however. This will certainly not be the first time US intervention in the Middle East has benefited Israel to the detriment of the US. From VIPS at consortiumnews.com:

“We write with a sense of urgency suggesting you avoid doubling down on catastrophe,” VIPS tells Donald Trump in its latest memo to the president.

January 3, 2020

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Doubling Down Into Another “March of Folly”?

The drone assassination in Iraq of Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani evokes memory of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914, which led to World War I. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to warn of “severe revenge.” That Iran will retaliate at a time and place of its choosing is a near certainty. And escalation into World War III is no longer just a remote possibility, particularly given the multitude of vulnerable targets offered by our large military footprint in the region and in nearby waters.

What your advisers may have avoided telling you is that Iran has not been isolated. Quite the contrary. One short week ago, for example, Iran launched its first joint naval exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman, in an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. in the region.

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“The Fight Started When He Hit Me Back”, by Jeff Thomas

Political leaders are always trying to get the citizenry to go to war by claiming provocation by the other side. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

There’s an old joke about an adult asking two boys how a fight started between them and one boy responded as stated above.

When two children are involved, we might choose to lecture them both and possibly punish the one who instigated the fight. But when nations are guilty of the same behaviour, we tend to simply accept the rather absurd explanation as being reasonable.

Back in the 1950s, the US sought to establish a presence in Vietnam. First, “military advisors” were sent in, then armaments. But soon, US troops were added. When the US public objected to their country instigating a war halfway around the world, where it had no business being, President Johnson made the announcement that the destroyer USS Maddox had just been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin.

As it turned out, the Maddox had sailed into the North Vietnamese harbour uninvited and began firing on North Vietnamese ships. The ships returned fire. Although only one bullet actually hit the Maddox, several North Vietnamese ships were damaged and Vietnamese sailors were killed.

President Johnson used this incident to convince the American people that North Vietnam had attacked a US ship and they needed to be taught a lesson. It was at that point that the US began the Vietnam War in earnest. It ended in defeat for the US, but not before over 1.3 million deaths were totted up.

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Kerry’s Endorsement of Biden Fits: Two Deceptive Supporters of the Iraq War, by Norman Solomon

Kerry and Biden are both liars with blood on their hands. From Norman Solomon at commondreams.org:

The spectacle of Kerry praising Biden as a seasoned leader amounts to one supporter of the Iraq catastrophe attesting to the character and experience of another supporter of the same catastrophe.

Senate Democrats John Kerry, Carl Levin, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Joseph Biden take part in a news conference on Capitol Hill14 March, 2007 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC following a procedural vote on Iraq. The US Senate will reopened a debate on a Democratic push to restrict the Iraq war effort after weeks of procedural delays by Republican allies of the White House, Senate leaders said. (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images)

Then Senate Democrats John Kerry, Carl Levin, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Joseph Biden take part in a news conference on March 14, 2007 following a procedural vote on Iraq. (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday afternoon, the Washington Post sent out a news alert headlined “John Kerry Endorses Biden in 2020 Race, Saying He Has the Character and Experience to Beat Trump, Confront the Nation’s Challenges.” Meanwhile, in Iowa, Joe Biden was also touting his experience. “Look,” Biden said as he angrily lectured an 83-year-old farmer at a campaign stop, “the reason I’m running is because I’ve been around a long time and I know more than most people know, and I can get things done.”

But Kerry and Biden don’t want to acknowledge a historic tie that binds them: Both men were important supporters of the Iraq war, voting for the invasion on the Senate floor and continuing to back the war after it began. Over the years, political winds have shifted—and Biden, like Kerry, has methodically lied about his support for that horrendous war.

The spectacle of Kerry praising Biden as a seasoned leader amounts to one supporter of the Iraq catastrophe attesting to the character and experience of another supporter of the same catastrophe.

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