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Date: 2024-05-21 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00024390

Long After Iraq, Why Do War Apologists Still Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy? ... Bizarrely, those who led us into the disaster continue to dominate America’s major media platforms.

Original article:
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
Long After Iraq, Why Do War Apologists Still Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy? Bizarrely, those who led us into the disaster continue to dominate America’s major media platforms. KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL APR 1, 2023 In Warsaw last February, President Joe Biden condemned the lawless Russian invasion of Ukraine: “The idea that over 100,000 forces would invade another country—since World War II, nothing like that has happened.” One month later marked the 20th anniversary of the greatest U.S. foreign policy debacle since Vietnam: America’s “war of choice” against Iraq, with 130,000 U.S. soldiers invading the country to overthrow its government. Given the scope of the folly, it is understandable that Biden would want to bury it in a memory hole. Although not as Orwellian as Biden, much of the commentary around the 20th anniversary similarly sought to explain or justify or diminish the calamity. This isn’t surprising, since few of the perpetrators, propagandists, and cheerleaders who drove us into the war suffered any consequence. Their reputations were re-burnished; their stature in America’s foreign policy establishment was retained. Bizarrely, those who led us into the disaster continue to dominate America’s major media platforms, while those who warned against it are largely pushed to the margins. Putting a blush on the Iraq War is not an easy task. The Bush administration touted its preventive war doctrine, scorned the need for America, at the height of its unipolar moment, to seek authority from the United Nations, approval from NATO allies, or adherence to international law. Iraq was a target for neoconservatives long before 9/11, as the propagandists at the Project for the New American Century made clear. The push for the war began hours after 9/11, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was an avowed enemy of Al Qaeda. The Bush administration campaigned to sell the threat, making it—as Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote at the beginning of the Cold War—“clearer than the truth.” For message advice, the administration hired professional PR gurus—like Charlotte Beers, the Queen of Madison Avenue, straight from award-winning campaigns hawking Uncle Ben’s Rice and Head & Shoulders Shampoo. dick-cheney-george-bush From the president on down, they sought to associate Saddam Hussein with 9/11, although they had no evidence of a connection that did not exist. Then they focused on the threat posed by Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. To overcome skeptical CIA analysts, Vice President Dick Cheney formed his own intelligence group, while über-lobbyist John Rendon invented an Iraqi National Congress headed by the nefarious financier Ahmed Chalabi, who provided “intelligence” on demand. Despite the fearmongering, the administration faced the largest demonstrations ever organized against a war before it began—what The New York Times termed “a new superpower.” Germany, France, and NATO refused support; the UN denied sanction. But reporters and editorialists for the mainstream media echoed the administration’s claims; liberal pundits rushed to show their patriotic fervor. With few exceptions, liberal politicians signed on to preserve their “credibility.” The daily barrage of distortions and deceptions worked: on the eve of the war, two-thirds of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and nearly four-fifths thought he was on the verge of having nuclear weapons. And so the catastrophe. The war cost the United States 4,600 dead, and over 30,000 wounded. Estimates of Iraqi casualties top 400,000, with a staggering 7 million refugees and millions more internally displaced. Sectarian conflict savaged Iraq. A new generation of jihadists arose and spread. Iran gained influence in the region. America’s reputation has not recovered to this day. Most of the world has stayed out of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, dismissing U.S. hectoring about the “rules-based international order” as hypocrisy. China’s influence spread as the United States floundered in the endless wars in the Middle East. Americans are tired of wars without victory. The press squandered its credibility. And the arrogance and irresponsibility of foreign policy establishment was exposed—all contributing to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Donald Rumsfeld & George Bush Donald Rumsfeld & George Bush Twenty years later, the war’s advocates and apologists struggle to justify their calamitous course, or to mollify judgments and achieve, in the words of Richard Haas, former president of the Foreign Policy Association, “an elusive consensus about the war’s legacy.” One frequent excuse is that the war was a mistake or a tragedy, not a crime. The administration, it’s argued, really did believe that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was, Hal Brands writes in Foreign Affairs, “an understandable tragedy, born of honorable motive and genuine concerns.” Despite the lack of evidence, a “critical mass of senior officials…talked one another into believing the most readily available justification,” concluded Max Fisher in the Times. In fact, the “war of choice” was the product of hubris, at a time when the United States was at the height of its power, driven by zealots who scorned law, evidence, and the “rules-based order.” Or as Secretary of State Colin Powell put it, reviewing the material provided for his UN speech, “This is bullshit.” Others, risibly, suggest that Iraq is better off today as a result of the invasion. Saddam Hussein was a bad man, “the one indisputably real WMD in Iraq,” Times columnist Bret Stephens writes, justifying his support of the war. Getting rid of him is a boon for the Iraqis, Stephens argues, with “Iraq, the Middle East and the world better off for having gotten rid of a dangerous tyrant.” This breathtaking conclusion can only be made by ignoring the devastation wrought on the country, the region and America’s credibility. It is the same arrogance that led to regime change in Libya, with the result once more a bloody civil war. Some, like David Frum, the Bush speechwriter said to have coined the term “the Axis of Evil” (the preposterous grouping of Iraq and Iran—two fervid enemies—with a North Korean regime that neither had any connection to), suggest the Iraqis bear much of the blame. We “offered Iraq a better future,” Frum tweeted. “Whatever West’s mistakes; the sectarian war was a choice Iraqis made for themselves.” The price for failing to hold the perpetrators of this debacle accountable is that their worldview still dominates America’s national security establishment. Biden came into office pledging to create a foreign policy for the middle class, but he has proceeded to reaffirm America’s imperial delusion—that we have the resources, wisdom, and charter to police the world, to counter Russia and China in their own neighborhoods, while chasing terrorists, dropping bombs from drones in seven countries, and dispatching forces to over 100 countries across the world. We sensibly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a violation of international law. Yet Richard Haass, a charter member of our foreign policy establishment, can write—apparently without irony—that the lesson to be drawn from Iraq is not opposition to aggressive war but that “wars of choice should be undertaken only with extreme care and consideration of the likely costs and benefits.” Surely, one of the enduring horrors of Iraq is that despite the calamity, our foreign policy establishment remains unshaken, and its worldview remains unchanged. Globetrotter UKRAINEAFGANISTANIRAQBUSHDEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELDDICK CHENEY Katrina vanden Heuvel BY KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editorial director and publisher of the Nation and is president of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord. She writes a weekly column at the Washington Post and is a frequent commentator on U.S. and international politics for Democracy Now, PBS, ABC, MSNBC and CNN. Commentary by Phillip Michaels Ms. vanden Heuvel, it is awful that the excuses used by George and et al. to get us to participate in wars of terror have not been acknowledged for the crimes against humanity that they were. However, there is a larger crime. The foundation stone of the wars on terror was an inside job. The three steel-superstructure high-rise towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) were destroyed by controlled demolition. The evidence for the use of explosives on the WTC is in the characteristics of the collapses. First--however--no steel skyscraper has ever--in over 100 years of this type of construction--been completely collapsed by office fires (N.B. The official reason for the collapses was determined by NIST to be 'office fires), making the complete destruction of these three buildings in a single day extremely unlikely. But, the characteristics of the collapses themselves moves the official story from 'unlikely' to 'impossible.' Those damning characteristics include: 1) symmetrical collapse of three asymmetrically-damaged buildings, free fall (or very near) collapse acceleration through thousands of tons of undamaged steel and concrete, and the crushing of the lower stronger undamaged sections of the Twin Towers by the smaller and weaker portions of the buildings above the crash sites in violation of Newton's 3rd law of motion (...every action has an equal and opposite reaction...). None of these are characteristics of a gravity-driven collapse. All are characteristics of controlled demolition. And, they didn't happen just once, but three times. Some part of the reason we haven't totally condemned the war crimes of Rummy/Dick/George has to be attributed to a complete blindness to the obvious on 9/11 by otherwise responsible journalists.
What Phillip Michaels has written sounds very plausible, but the idea that the 'official' story of the collapse of the WTC buildings is 'impossible' is , in my view, incorrect. In the summer of 1960 I had completed engineering degree studies at Cambridge University and was able to make a visit to North America and New York. At the time there were a number of skyscrapers being built in New York along the Avenue of the Americas. My take on their construction was that they were massively 'overdesigned' using much more steel than was needed for optimum design efficiency. Fast forward a few years, I was now living in New York City where the new Twin Towers of the WTC were being built. At the time I observed that these were the first buildings I had seen in the United States that were efficiently designed. As I understand it, the WTC design had columns and floor as part of a single rigid structure which had enormous strength under normal conditions. Not surprisingly, normal conditions ... even any likely exceptional conditions, did not anticipate a large jet plane fully loaded with fuel crashing into the building and catching fire. As the heat weakened the steel structure, some of the floors sagged pulling inwards the vertical steel columns turning them into 'Euler' struts that were incapable of carrying the weight of the floors above ... and then the whole thing pancaked. I have a growing concern as I age that more and more of the past is getting rewritten in ways that are convenient but not so much correct ... and I want to do what I can to push back on this. Peter Burgess.

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