Favorite

Same story 

Contrary to what Jeb Bush said, it wasn't actually too hard to see through the propaganda barrage that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003. Key aspects of the Bush administration's case for war were transparently false, and would have been comically so if the consequences hadn't been so terrible.

Ancient history: "The administration's strategy of loudly proclaiming that Iraq poses a dire threat to U.S. security while making a public show of massing troops along its border as if it were scarcely capable of self-defense," this column said in February 2003 "makes no sense."

A single "mushroom cloud" of the kind Condoleezza Rice warned about and military catastrophe would have resulted.

To me, it followed that Rice was simply blowing smoke.

And so, he's since basically admitted, was Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"War fever, catch it," was my sardonic response to Powell's ballyhooed 2003 speech to the United Nations on the dire threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein.

"To skeptics who remember 'intelligence' hoaxes of past decades," the column continued, "it wasn't clear that Powell's presentation answered any of the objections his own surrogates like former Bush I national security advisor Brent Scowcroft have put forward."

"Key parts of Powell's presentation were dubious on their face." The column listed several examples, including the disingenuous term "weapons of mass destruction," which Americans were encouraged to believe included nuclear bombs, but mostly referred to leftover nerve gas weapons we'd sold Saddam in the first place.

(And which he'd used to attack the Kurds and Iran, for anybody seeking a clue about the contemporary Middle East.)

In reality, we've learned, Saddam had no WMDs of any description.

"The crucial thing about Powell's speech wasn't evidence or logic, but who gave it. The Secretary of State has surrendered to the hawks. War it is. President Junior's 'credibility' demands it."

Yes, I called George W. Bush a satirical name. Even before his comic opera "Mission Accomplished" aircraft carrier photo op, I thought the president was posturing like the hero of a Bruce Willis action/adventure film.

Many opinion writers reacted differently.

"The allegedly 'liberal' Washington Post responded editorially with a one-word headline. 'Irrefutable'... Joining the stampede was New York Times Editor Bill Keller, who noted that 'The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club includes op-ed regulars at this newspaper and The Washington Post, the editors of The New Yorker, The New Republic and Slate, columnists in Time and Newsweek.'"

There were honorable exceptions, such as Knight-Ridder reporters Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel and Joe Galloway. But the professional skepticism that journalists boast of was rare.

Basically this was because the safest place in any stampede is the middle of the herd. In his book "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush," Eric Boehlert counted 26 pro-Iraq war columns in the Washington Post between September 2002 and February 2003.

Probably you've forgotten that Bush promised to put the matter to a vote in the U.N. Security Council, and then changed his mind as arms inspectors kept not finding Saddam's imaginary weapons. Instead, he ordered the inspectors out of Iraq. "Alas," I wrote, "there's no sign Bush has the guts for peace."

Meanwhile, fools were busy pouring Bordeaux wine into gutters, ordering "freedom fries" and destroying Dixie Chicks CDs because, like the French foreign minister, the singers expressed doubts about Bush's big war. (I made a coarse joke about "Freedom Ticklers." Months later a friend emailed me a photo of a truck stop vending machine selling them.)

Journalistic skepticism abandoned, much of the "embedded" news media rode along as if invading Iraq were the world's biggest Boy Scout Jamboree. The short-term outcome of the fighting was never in doubt. And patriotic Americans can always be counted upon to rally behind the troops.

Longer term, I doubted that Americans had the appetite for the wars of empire Bush's "neoconservative" advisors had in mind.

See, that's the part Jeb Bush in particular wants everybody to forget. Invading Iraq had little or nothing to do with the 9/11 terror attacks. Instead, it was the brainchild of a close-knit group of foreign policy visionaries who styled themselves the "Project for a New American Century."

Ideological delusion — the dream of a worldwide "Pax Americana" — gave birth to bad intelligence rather than vice versa.

Signatories to a 2000 PNAC position paper urging preventive war and "regime change" in Iraq included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and, yes, Jeb himself.

"This isn't conservatism," I wrote. "It's utopian folly and a prescription for endless war."

The point isn't to pat myself on the back. Contrarianism comes naturally to me. Also, having no ambitions involving Washington or New York, I felt no pressure to conform.

Rather, the point is that the same crowd has every intention of peddling a revised script on the same crackpot themes in 2016.

My question is, are you buying?

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Out of control

    Unlike now infamous White House aide Rob Porter, I didn't have a Harvard professor and presidential confidant for a father. My old man was a New Jersey Irish working stiff, who taught me most of what I know about being a man. Among the enduring lessons he'd learned during his service as an artillery sergeant was that ethnic tribalism could be a trap.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Page and the Russians

    Let's put it this way: If poor, abused Carter Page wasn't a Russian agent back when Donald Trump plucked him from obscurity to advise his 2016 campaign, he'd definitely done all he could to look like one.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • Country songs

    Driving along recently, I had a heretical thought: A person could get more sensible advice about men and women from the country oldies station than The New York Times. Or from The Washington Post, The New Republic, National Review or any publication devoted to nonstop analysis of metropolitan sexual angst written by twentysomething Women's Studies majors from expensive liberal arts colleges.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Out of control

    Unlike now infamous White House aide Rob Porter, I didn't have a Harvard professor and presidential confidant for a father. My old man was a New Jersey Irish working stiff, who taught me most of what I know about being a man. Among the enduring lessons he'd learned during his service as an artillery sergeant was that ethnic tribalism could be a trap.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Page and the Russians

    Let's put it this way: If poor, abused Carter Page wasn't a Russian agent back when Donald Trump plucked him from obscurity to advise his 2016 campaign, he'd definitely done all he could to look like one.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • Country songs

    Driving along recently, I had a heretical thought: A person could get more sensible advice about men and women from the country oldies station than The New York Times. Or from The Washington Post, The New Republic, National Review or any publication devoted to nonstop analysis of metropolitan sexual angst written by twentysomething Women's Studies majors from expensive liberal arts colleges.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28  

Most Viewed

  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Out of control

    • Gene, the all wise one, needs to help us set some new rules. What if…

    • on February 18, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • And Olphart - hey, That is a witty reply - good for you!

    • on February 17, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • Oh for god's sake - read the play - just read the play before going…

    • on February 16, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation