I’ll be a little late for work, but I’m watching the re-run of “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War” on MSNBC. It’s based on the book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.
A decade ago, on March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq that would lead to a nine-year war resulting in 4,486 dead American troops, 32,226 service members wounded, and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians. The tab for the war topped $3 trillion. Bush did succeed in removing Saddam Hussein, but it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and no significant operational ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda. That is, the two main assertions used by Bush and his crew to justify the war were not true. Three years after the war began, Michael Isikoff, then an investigative reporter for Newsweek (he’s since moved to NBC News), and I published Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, a behind-the-scenes account of how Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants deployed false claims, iffy intelligence, and unsupported hyperbole to win popular backing for the invasion.
A lot of people knew we were being lied to, that the Bush/Cheney crowd had been looking for any excuse to invade Iraq, including making up bullshit reasons to go to war, and conning journalists and like-minded pundits into buying it. A lot of us made it clear that we didn’t believe anything they were telling us. And yet we went anyway.
I’d like to think that it would never happen again. After all, we got lied into Vietnam, and the wounds are still raw. But we as a nation have a short term memory when it comes to launching ourselves into the role of the world’s heavily-armed moral leader, and the lesson that we seem to learn is that we never learn the lesson.
The worst part is that no one will ever be held accountable. That guarantees that it will happen again. And again.