Mission Accomplished: Iraq as America’s biggest Blunder (Van Buren)

Peter van Buren writes at Tomdispatch.com

I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness — and oh yes, it was madness — not filtered through a complacent and sleepy media that made Washington’s war policy seem, if not sensible, at least sane and serious enough. I stood at Ground Zero of what was intended to be the new centerpiece for a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the invasion of Iraq turned out to be a joke. Not for the Iraqis, of course, and not for American soldiers, and not the ha-ha sort of joke either. And here’s the saddest truth of all: on March 20th as we mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion from hell, we still don’t get it. In case you want to jump to the punch line, though, it’s this: by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we — and so many others — will pay the price for it for a long, long time.

The Madness of King George

It’s easy to forget just how normal the madness looked back then. By 2009, when I arrived in Iraq, we were already at the last-gasp moment when it came to salvaging something from what may yet be seen as the single worst foreign policy decision in American history. It was then that, as a State Department officer assigned to lead two provincial reconstruction teams in eastern Iraq, I first walked into the chicken processing plant in the middle of nowhere.

By then, the U.S. “reconstruction” plan for that country was drowning in rivers of money foolishly spent. As the centerpiece for those American efforts — at least after Plan A, that our invading troops would be greeted with flowers and sweets as liberators, crashed and burned — we had managed to reconstruct nothing of significance. First conceived as a Marshall Plan for the New American Century, six long years later it had devolved into farce.

In my act of the play, the U.S. spent some $2.2 million dollars to build a huge facility in the boondocks. Ignoring the stark reality that Iraqis had raised and sold chickens locally for some 2,000 years, the U.S. decided to finance the construction of a central processing facility, have the Iraqis running the plant purchase local chickens, pluck them and slice them up with complex machinery brought in from Chicago, package the breasts and wings in plastic wrap, and then truck it all to local grocery stores. Perhaps it was the desert heat, but this made sense at the time, and the plan was supported by the Army, the State Department, and the White House.

Elegant in conception, at least to us, it failed to account for a few simple things, like a lack of regular electricity, or logistics systems to bring the chickens to and from the plant, or working capital, or… um… grocery stores. As a result, the gleaming $2.2 million plant processed no chickens. To use a few of the catchwords of that moment, it transformed nothing, empowered no one, stabilized and economically uplifted not a single Iraqi. It just sat there empty, dark, and unused in the middle of the desert. Like the chickens, we were plucked.

In keeping with the madness of the times, however, the simple fact that the plant failed to meet any of its real-world goals did not mean the project wasn’t a success. In fact, the factory was a hit with the U.S. media. After all, for every propaganda-driven visit to the plant, my group stocked the place with hastily purchased chickens, geared up the machinery, and put on a dog-and-pony, er, chicken-and-rooster, show.

In the dark humor of that moment, we christened the place the Potemkin Chicken Factory. In between media and VIP visits, it sat in the dark, only to rise with the rooster’s cry each morning some camera crew came out for a visit. Our factory was thus considered a great success. Robert Ford, then at the Baghdad Embassy and now America’s rugged shadow ambassador to Syria, said his visit was the best day out he enjoyed in Iraq. General Ray Odierno, then commanding all U.S. forces in Iraq, sent bloggers and camp followers to view the victory project. Some of the propaganda, which proclaimed that “teaching Iraqis methods to flourish on their own gives them the ability to provide their own stability without needing to rely on Americans,” is still online (including this charming image of American-Iraqi mentorship, a particular favorite of mine).

We weren’t stupid, mind you. In fact, we all felt smart and clever enough to learn to look the other way. The chicken plant was a funny story at first, a kind of insider’s joke you all think you know the punch line to. Hey, we wasted some money, but $2.2 million was a small amount in a war whose costs will someday be toted up in the trillions. Really, at the end of the day, what was the harm?

The harm was this: we wanted to leave Iraq (and Afghanistan) stable to advance American goals. We did so by spending our time and money on obviously pointless things, while most Iraqis lacked access to clean water, regular electricity, and medical or hospital care. Another State Department official in Iraq wrote in his weekly summary to me, “At our project ribbon-cuttings we are typically greeted now with a cursory ‘thank you,’ followed by a long list of crushing needs for essential services such as water and power.” How could we help stabilize Iraq when we acted like buffoons? As one Iraqi told me, “It is like I am standing naked in a room with a big hat on my head. Everyone comes in and helps put flowers and ribbons on my hat, but no one seems to notice that I am naked.”

By 2009, of course, it should all have been so obvious. We were no longer inside the neocon dream of unrivaled global superpowerdom, just mired in what happened to it. We were a chicken factory in the desert that no one wanted.

Time Travel to 2003

Anniversaries are times for reflection, in part because it’s often only with hindsight that we recognize the most significant moments in our lives. On the other hand, on anniversaries it’s often hard to remember what it was really like back when it all began. Amid the chaos of the Middle East today, it’s easy, for instance, to forget what things looked like as 2003 began. Afghanistan, it appeared, had been invaded and occupied quickly and cleanly, in a way the Soviets (the British, the ancient Greeks…) could never have dreamed of. Iran was frightened, seeing the mighty American military on its eastern border and soon to be on the western one as well, and was ready to deal. Syria was controlled by the stable thuggery of Bashar al-Assad and relations were so good that the U.S. was rendering terror suspects to his secret prisons for torture.

Most of the rest of the Middle East was tucked in for a long sleep with dictators reliable enough to maintain stability. Libya was an exception, though predictions were that before too long Muammar Qaddafi would make some sort of deal. (He did.) All that was needed was a quick slash into Iraq to establish a permanent American military presence in the heart of Mesopotamia. Our future garrisons there could obviously oversee things, providing the necessary muscle to swat down any future destabilizing elements. It all made so much sense to the neocon visionaries of the early Bush years. The only thing that Washington couldn’t imagine was this: that the primary destabilizing element would be us.

Indeed, its mighty plan was disintegrating even as it was being dreamed up. In their lust for everything on no terms but their own, the Bush team missed a diplomatic opportunity with Iran that might have rendered today’s saber rattling unnecessary, even as Afghanistan fell apart and Iraq imploded. As part of the breakdown, desperate men, blindsided by history, turned up the volume on desperate measures: torture, secret gulags, rendition, drone killings, extra-constitutional actions at home. The sleaziest of deals were cut to try to salvage something, including ignoring the A.Q. Khan network of Pakistani nuclear proliferation in return for a cheesy Condi Rice-Qaddafi photo-op rapprochement in Libya.

Inside Iraq, the forces of Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict had been unleashed by the U.S. invasion. That, in turn, was creating the conditions for a proxy war between the U.S. and Iran, similar to the growing proxy war between Israel and Iran inside Lebanon (where another destabilizing event, the U.S.-sanctioned Israeli invasion of 2006, followed in hand). None of this has ever ended. Today, in fact, that proxy war has simply found a fresh host, Syria, with multiple powers using “humanitarian aid” to push and shove their Sunni and Shia avatars around.

Staggering neocon expectations, Iran emerged from the U.S. decade in Iraq economically more powerful, with sanctions-busting trade between the two neighbors now valued at some $5 billion a year and still growing. In that decade, the U.S. also managed to remove one of Iran’s strategic counterbalances, Saddam Hussein, replacing him with a government run by Nouri al-Malaki, who had once found asylum in Tehran.

Meanwhile, Turkey is now engaged in an open war with the Kurds of northern Iraq. Turkey is, of course, part of NATO, so imagine the U.S. government sitting by silently while Germany bombed Poland. To complete the circle, Iraq’s prime minister recently warned that a victory for Syria’s rebels will spark sectarian wars in his own country and will create a new haven for al-Qaeda which would further destabilize the region.

Meanwhile, militarily burnt out, economically reeling from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lacking any moral standing in the Middle East post-Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the U.S. sat on its hands as the regional spark that came to be called the Arab Spring flickered out, to be replaced by yet more destabilization across the region. And even that hasn’t stopped Washington from pursuing the latest version of the (now-nameless) global war on terror into ever-newer regions in need of destabilization.

Having noted the ease with which a numbed American public patriotically looked the other way while our wars followed their particular paths to hell, our leaders no longer blink at the thought of sending American drones and special operations forces ever farther afield, most notably ever deeper into Africa, creating from the ashes of Iraq a frontier version of the state of perpetual war George Orwell once imagined for his dystopian novel 1984. And don’t doubt for a second that there is a direct path from the invasion of 2003 and that chicken plant to the dangerous and chaotic place that today passes for our American world.

Happy Anniversary

On this 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, Iraq itself remains, by any measure, a dangerous and unstable place. Even the usually sunny Department of State advises American travelers to Iraq that U.S. citizens “remain at risk for kidnapping… [as] numerous insurgent groups, including Al Qaida, remain active…” and notes that “State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of Protective Security Details.”

In the bigger picture, the world is also a far more dangerous place than it was in 2003. Indeed, for the State Department, which sent me to Iraq to witness the follies of empire, the world has become ever more daunting. In 2003, at that infamous “mission accomplished” moment, only Afghanistan was on the list of overseas embassies that were considered “extreme danger posts.” Soon enough, however, Iraq and Pakistan were added. Today, Yemen and Libya, once boring but secure outposts for State’s officials, now fall into the same category.

Other places once considered safe for diplomats and their families such as Syria and Mali have been evacuated and have no American diplomatic presence at all. Even sleepy Tunisia, once calm enough that the State Department had its Arabic language school there, is now on reduced staff with no diplomatic family members resident. Egypt teeters.

The Iranian leadership watched carefully as the American imperial version of Iraq collapsed, concluded that Washington was a paper tiger, backed away from initial offers to talk over contested issues, and instead (at least for a while) doubled-down on achieving nuclear breakout capacity, aided by the past work of that same A.Q. Khan network. North Korea, another A.Q. Khan beneficiary, followed the same pivot ever farther from Washington, while it became a genuine nuclear power. Its neighbor China pursued its own path of economic dominance, while helping to “pay” for the Iraq War by becoming the number-one holder of U.S. debt among foreign governments. It now owns more than 21% of the U.S. debt held overseas.

And don’t put away the joke book just yet. Subbing as apologist-in-chief for an absent George W. Bush and the top officials of his administration on this 10th anniversary, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently reminded us that there is more on the horizon. Conceding that he had “long since given up trying to persuade people Iraq was the right decision,” Blair added that new crises are looming. “You’ve got one in Syria right now, you’ve got one in Iran to come,” he said. “We are in the middle of this struggle, it is going to take a generation, it is going to be very arduous and difficult. But I think we are making a mistake, a profound error, if we think we can stay out of that struggle.”

Think of his comment as a warning. Having somehow turned much of Islam into a foe, Washington has essentially assured itself of never-ending crises that it stands no chance whatsoever of winning. In this sense, Iraq was not an aberration, but the historic zenith and nadir for a way of thinking that is only now slowing waning. For decades to come, the U.S. will have a big enough military to ensure that our decline is slow, bloody, ugly, and reluctant, if inevitable. One day, however, even the drones will have to land.

And so, happy 10th anniversary, Iraq War! A decade after the invasion, a chaotic and unstable Middle East is the unfinished legacy of our invasion. I guess the joke is on us after all, though no one is laughing.

Peter Van Buren, a retired 24-year veteran of the State Department, served in Iraq. A TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq, the Middle East, and U.S. diplomacy at his blog, We Meant Well. He is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. He is currently working on a new book, The People on the Bus: A Story of the 99%.

Copyright 2013 Peter Van Buren

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Mirrored from Tomdispatch.com

21 Responses

  1. I suppose it’s a question of who “we” are. In February 2003, I wrote a lengthy lettre to my members of Congress (two ND Senators and one Representative) stating uncategorically that the venture into Iraq was ill-advised and that there were NO weapons of ill repute. Ergo, the whole affair was a needless expenditure of resources. I seem to recall that the anti-war protests of that period were record-setting. “We” got it back then; “they” didn’t.
    To diminish the role of the authoritarian in a part of the World where a strong man’s strong hands rule unquestionably sends the message that there really is no authority at all, sent to those who are on all sides of the issue. Hence, mayhem ensues with various factions reinforcing the newly learned fact of authoritarian lackings, with everyone raising havoc thereby disenfranchising those who would prefer a peaceful change. Having conquerors who are nonnative and nonresident leaders assert any control is laughable!
    What is happening with Assad in Syria now is his longevity’s being enhanced by the lack of cohesion of the forces who are actively fighting against the Alawite leader and his supporters. On the one hand, the Asia Times reports, ‘”government forces purposefully surrendered territories with little to no resistance … to shorten their communication lines and to cut some expenses – but also in order to let the population taste a nightmare version of freedom which would conceivably lead many people to choose Assad’s rule as the lesser evil.”‘* On the other, “There is no appetite for intervening actively against Assad — as NATO did against Moammar Gadhafi in Libya — and run the risk of having him replaced by an Islamist regime hostile to the West. Those concerns have deepened after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and political turmoil in Egypt where a bid to promote an Islamist agenda threatens to tear the nation apart.”** Somewhere, the leaders (except for the likenesses of Tony-B-A-Liar) are being roused from their post-Imperial feast slumbers and seeing the mess that the revelers have left for those hosting the party!

    “We” have gotten ‘it’ for some time now. “They,” they who seem to think tearing at scabs and scratching open wounds is an appropriate tactic need to devote more of their own physical beings and less of their roulette random thoughts, “they” don’t (yet). Obviously, their gambles have not paid off and – so far – they’ve steered clear of those who want to settle outstanding debts!

    * Read more: link to businessinsider.com

    ** Read more: link to foxnews.com

    • Thank you for your insightful comment. I’d appreciate your opinion on the developments of Egypt’s “Arab Spring”. Here, unlike Iraq, an autocrat was removed by internal, peaceful means.

      Also, with respect to Syria, where it isn’t reasonable to have expected an Egypt-like “Arab Spring” process due to sectarian realities, what role, if any, do you see for (non-US)outside parties? Economic sanctions, etc., led by the UN?

  2. ” the Bush team missed a diplomatic opportunity with Iran that might have rendered today’s saber rattling unnecessary”

    “Missed an opportunity” ?

    That is a kind interpretation.

    Washington Post June 18 2006:

    “Richard N. Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranian approach was swiftly rejected because in the administration “the bias was toward a policy of regime change.” He said it is difficult to know whether the proposal was fully supported by the “multiple governments” that run Iran, but he felt it was worth exploring.”

    link to washingtonpost.com

  3. That is absolutely F*’n hilarious…really . Except of course for the part where even this guy who actually understands what a total arse-up the whole Iraq Invasion was still misses the key point – the ‘punch line’ isn’t
    “by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. And we — and so many others — will pay the price for it for a long, long time.”
    The real punchline is that the US used superior power to commit war crimes and go unpunished . That didn’t just send a message to the Middle East – it sent a clear message to the whole world – and that is what we will all be paying the price for a very, very long time.

    • Hear, hear Janine. The recent documentary put out by The Guardian and BBC Arabic supports your point very strongly.

  4. We may have caused it but it was coming anyway!

    Ever since I lived in the Middle East in the 1970′s, I have closely followed events over there. Before 9/11 I would read analyses who would discuss the situation in one country or another. They generally concluded their article with a statement to the effect that the situation was untenable and was bound to blow up. Obviously their conclusion was naive, the situation continued on the same year after year. This was not unlike the analysts who had predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and had been doing it for decades.

    Did we break things? Yes, of course, but they were going to blow apart anyway. We just hurried them along.

  5. Herbie and Harry are walking down an alley, between dumpsters. Herbie sticks out his arm and stops Harry. “Whoa!” Says Herbie. “That looks like dog poop.” Harry grabs a stick and scrapes some of it up, holds it up to the light. “Yup, smells like dog poop too. It even FEELS like it!” Herbie takes the stick, licks it. “Tastes like it, too.” “Gee, Herbie, I’m sure glad we didn’t STEP in it…”

    Waiting now for the Smart Folks to recite all the reasons the idiot’s dream was really Wise Policy. Too bad all that, and Vietnam, Etc.,were and are Wise Policy at no cost, and substantial profit, to those who thrive on instability and destabilization…

  6. I think Mr van Buren missed the point – it wasn’t about supplying the locals with chickens or jobs or anything else, it was about somebody syphoning off 2.2 million of government, ie taxpayers’, money. To get the answer when things don’t make sense or look counterproductive, ‘Follow the Money’.

  7. In January of this year the leader of the Sunni resistance, General Izzat al-Douri, issued a videotape that was broadcast urging opposition to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in several areas, including Anbar province and Nineveh. Al-Douri had been a top military leader under Saddam Hussein (featured in the famous “Deck of Cards”)and he often displays a Saddam-era Iraqi flag during his filmed broadcast speeches.

    Ten years after the start of the Iraq War, the top Baathist Iraqi miltary leader still has not been captured and is the reputed operational leader of the Sunni resistance forces.

    American leaders in the State Department and CIA never understood the Iraqi population was highly fragmented into different cultural and religious groups and the sudden absence of a strong totalitarian regime such as the Baathists would foster anarchy and sectarian violence similar to what has historically been seen in Lebanon.

    An excellent film by Brian DePalma, “Redacted”, is a fictionalized version of the Abeer Qasim Hamza incident where a 15-year-old Iraqi girl was raped and killed by U.S. Army troops. That incident became a rallying point against the occupation as did Abu Ghraib prison abuses. The U.S. Armed Forces exacerbated anti-American sentiments among Iraqis by these types of incidents. The “Surge” by American forces was lauded as highly successful in stemming terrorist attacks, as evidenced by a lower “body count” of victims; yet substantial numbers of casulaties from insurrection continue within Iraq.

    Other highly embarrassing incidents were committed by American forces in Iraq. There was the procurement scandal where Army officers were taking huge kickbacks in exchange for authorizing supply contracts for bottled water and other items – several Army personnel committed suicide during the investigation and a number of others went to prison. There was the planeload of millions of dollars in cash shrink-wrapped for distribution in Iraq that disappeared without a trace. There were the Blackwater abuses. And so on.

    Iraq will be the historical equivalent of Vietnam for the scope of its waste and moral failures of the U.S. Armed Forces and policy deficiencies and mismanagement by the U.S. State Department.

    • …And now we have some guy named Karzai telling the, what are they, US or UN?, special-ops people to stand down onaccounta what they are doing, and/or teaching parts of the Afghan National Army that is mostly WHAT tribe, again? to do? in the province next to the nominal capital.

      There’s been all this chatter here and elsewhere about counter-insurgency versus nation-building versus a bunch of other Grand Strategies. Lots of stuff about what the GIs on the ground are supposed to do — kick in doors, or knock politely, and walk and drive around the Area of Operations to hopefully find, and if not find, then to trigger, IEDs, and also to attract bullets and rockets from “unlawful enema combatants” so those Bad Wogs can be “lit up,” grab local people to put in various forms of confinement, and a lot of other stuff that the Apologists will be sure to tell us was All To The Good, all under leaders some of whom are/were maybe trying to Do The Right Thing in an asymmetrical circumstance where there is no possible “victory” or “success,” and many of whom are cynical, self-serving barstids on the model of Westmoreland et al. Being told that assaulting Wardak Province or another chosen as the Hot Front du Jour was going to be the stuff they would tell their grandchildren when it came time to recount the virtues and the roots of VICTORY in Afghanistan. Being confronted by dignified villagers who were ousted from their homes and marketplace by the combat that GIs (and, yes, what we now are calling “fighters” in Syria but which started out all as “terrorists,” then “insurgents,” then what-ever euphemism the Brass came up with and worked into the DoD Dictionary and all those Grand Strategy documents THIS month) brought to them. So that when the pushy E-5 tells the village leader he HAS to move back into the market town because that’s what the field orders call for, and that the “UN” will protect them, the villager can say, almost mildly, “You will protect us from the fighters? You, with all your weapons and technology, cannot even protect yourselves. How can you even pretend to be able to protect me and my family?” Sometimes, when you break something you simply can’t fix it, not with any amount of Superglue or eyewash. Best not to break in the first place.

      For the GIs and Gyrenes and other service types who are expected to “make war,” this is nothing but more effing FUTILITY. Passing out candy bars, conducting medical clinics in the villages, building schools that can’t be used, disappearing billions and aiding or winking at or savoring the illicit drug business that’s all around, that’s not any way to run a war (though of course ‘war” is not very well defined, now is it, and there’s a huge Gulf between what the public thinks of, Grand strategies and house-to-house fighting, and the real stuff of fraudulent procurements and $400-a-gallon fuel delivered by bribed “fighters” and Bug Splat and mission and battlespace creep. Which is indeed very creepy.. And how about the Consumer Reports-style hype about Game Changers like the XM-25 grenade launcher and the V-22 and even the Reaper/Predator/Hellfire things that don’t seem to be making much of a dent in the incidence of the kinds of behaviors we think of as “BAD Muslim, BAAAD!”

      So once again, in supposed pursuit of undefined “national interests,” and supposedly to protect “national assets” like Forward Operating Bases that, if the Brass and the politicians had maybe kept to a simple “get bin Laden” game would never have been down in the valley of the shadow of death, “needing to be protected.” By often mis-aimed artillery, aerial bombardment, and of course Hellfires from Heaven.

      All of this being conducted behind a smokescreen of lies and misrepresentations, by subtle and seemingly informed people taking full advantage of the patriotic gullibility of those of us who this time are not even aware of what it’s costing us, out of pocket and out of our futures, while we are bovinely allowing the conditions for late-stage imperial repression to be put in place under the nominal banner of “security.”

      This was not a “mistake.” The various “administrations” may not have intended all the consequences that have ensued, but the basic framework, destabilization leading to volatility and opportunities for theft and the growth of the Security State, were sure in the minds of the catalysts that fomented this Change thing, Regime, or Hope’n type. The stuff that’s happening is not a bug, as they say (except for the ones that are tracking our Free Exercise ‘n stuff) — it’s very definitely part of the intended feature set.

      Good Morning, Vietnamization!

      • I have been reading Informed Comment for over ten years,
        which is an excellent source of information,
        and you are one of few, in my opinion, that have their
        stuff together.

        I are an eighty year old retired Aerospace Engineer and
        Korean War Vet. I have lived through WW2, Korea, Bomber
        Gap, Missile Gap, Vietnam, Space Race, Cold War, Losing China, Bay of Pigs, Panama, Iraq, Iran Hostages, Berlin Airlift and Wall (Was extended for the Wall), Lebanon, Communism, Jim Crow, etc.
        It’s the Same Old Stuff over and over again.

  8. No the big mistake w as liberating Kuwait, everything that followed arose from that decision.

  9. “……by invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined”

    “In 1996, Israeli dual citizens Douglas Feith and Richard Perle were both advisors to Israel’s Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. During that time, the duo co-authored a policy paper, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.

    In it, they said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and that Syria, Lebanon and Iran would all have to be overthrown or destabilized in order for Israel to be truly safe. Feith would later become the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense of Policy for the Bush administration.

    It was through Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) that the Israelis channeled faulty intelligence about Saddam’s so-called “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” These lies led the U.S. Congress to enact the Iraq War Resolution of 2002, which gave George W. Bush carte blanche to wage a bloody conflict has since claimed the lives of over one million Iraqis and nearly 5,000 American troops.”

    So, apart from Iran it’s mission accomplished then !

  10. “We Meant Well” is a either a lie of a title or is too ‘ironical’ to catch. There was no “We” there was a “they” and they lied to light the fires of war to burn a government to get the oil. And ‘they’ never meant well. The persistent mything about intent is part of the problem. The failure to call a liar a liar means these authors ‘enable’. The lying to start wars in the US began at least as far back as “El Robo” thru the War on Spain, I’d include WWI, skips WWII [the last 'good' war], into Tonkin, and into WMD. It is time to quit covering the lies.

  11. The Iraq War can only be seen as a failure if you believe that ever-expanding opportunities for military expenditure weren’t the goal all along.

  12. I think Steve Laudig has a point, and while I would never want to absolve President Bush of any responsibility I am curious about why Mr. VanBuren (and others, obviously) felt it was OK to lie about the efficacy of the chicken processing facility. Why, when asked to stage a photo op, did he not refuse? Why did he participate in the charade?

  13. John Pilger.com

    link to johnpilger.com

    “in Cairo, on February 24 2001, Powell said: “He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.

    On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to “build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction” for “the last 10 years”. America, he said, had been successful in keeping him “in a box”.

    Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. “Saddam does not control the northern part of the country,” she said. “We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

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