Tin-pot advice 10 years later
Tenth-year anniversaries are traditionally honored by gifts of tin, which is appropriate, since we just commemorated the 10th anniversary of the unnecessary war started by our tin-pot former president. Tin-pot: “petty, small-time, two-bit.” This is a perfect description of GW Bush and his Iraq War cheerleaders. History is proving that almost every decision these guys made was wrong, and we will be paying for their arrogance for generations.
I supported the first Gulf War because there was a definite act of aggression involved. President GHW Bush established a careful plan for winning. Allies even paid for most of the war. The objective was clear, so we knew when it had been achieved. In contrast, the objectives of the Iraq War were constantly changing and no one knew what winning would look like. We still don’t know what “winning” that war means.
On the afternoon of 9/11, as the rubble was settling and bodies were being recovered, Bush was instructing his intelligence people to find a link between the attacks and Iraq, even though they all knew there was no such link. The July 23, 2002, “Downing Street memo” makes it clear that Bush had decided to go to war with Iraq prior to 9/11 and that the intelligence on WMD was being “fixed” to “fit the policy.” Many people were complicit in this deception.
I sent a letter to the Reno Gazette-Journal on Jan. 22, 2003, which was published soon after:
Regarding war with Iraq, I have not heard anyone answer the most important question: How will we know when we’ve won? Will it be when Saddam Hussein is dead or deposed? That leaves his two psycho sons in charge. Okay, so we kill or depose them. That leaves his generals and hand-picked government leaders in charge. Okay, so we get rid of them. Then we watch the country erupt into civil war.
Will we have won when we have finally suppressed the civil war and taught the Iraqi people how to govern themselves? If so, we had better plan on having troops there for many years. How about when we find and destroy the alleged weapons of mass destruction? If President Bush knows where they are, why doesn’t he tell the UN? If he doesn’t know, how will we find them to destroy them? During the Vietnam War, no one ever seems to have figured out the answer to the above question. We had better figure out the answer this time, before we go to war and lose another 50,000 or so young Americans.
Everything didn’t turn out exactly as I predicted, but my predictions were far closer to reality than those of the so-called “experts.” Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, made two amazing predictions: “The (Iraq) war could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” (Feb. 7, 2003). “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. We know where they are.” (April 9, 2003) Both of these statements were tragically wrong.
Dick Cheney insisted on March 16, 2003, “We know he has been absolutely trying to acquire nuclear weapons and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” In contrast, Hans Blix, the U.N. weapons inspector, repeatedly told Bush that there were no signs of WMD despite months of searching. Bush got so frustrated at Blix’s reports that he finally pulled the weapons inspectors out of Iraq so he could invade.
On April 19, 2002, Charles Krauthammer said, “Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons.” On Feb. 19, 2003, Sean Hannity said, “We’re going to go in and we’re going to liberate this country in a few weeks and it’s going to be over very quickly.” There are pages and pages of similar claims, all wrong.
These people still refuse to admit the Iraq War was a huge mistake. Not one has been held accountable; instead, they are still listened to as if they are actually experts on foreign policy.
What was the result of this interminable war that should never have been started in the first place? Hundreds of thousands dead and injured, trillions added to our national debt, and an Iraq-Iran alliance that was unthinkable before we invaded. The next time someone starts hollering that we need to go to war to prove how tough we are, check if they are one of the idiots who got us into Iraq. Then run the other way.
Jeanette Strong’s column appears every other Wednesday in Perspective.