From the OB Rag
Ten years of lying about the Iraq war has to stop now – immediately. The government – our government – lied to us, the America people, about the reasons they said it was necessary to go to war with Iraq – a country that was not threatening us. One decade ago to this day, their lies produced action: the “shock and awe” “bunker-busters” unleashed on the capital of Iraq, March 19th, 2003.
They lied to cover up their invasion of Iraq a decade ago to this day.
And now ten years later, after more than 4400 Americans killed, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, 30,000 Americans injured, after we have spent over $3 Trillion dollars, we have come to the realization that, if America is to be honest with itself, we must now demand that someone be held accountable for these lies and the wastes of lives and resources.
Those to be held accountable, of course, must include the leaders of our government at that time: George W. Bush, President, and Dick Cheney, Vice-President and those who demanded the war which includes then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
These four – and others – lied to us, the people, lied to our allies, lied to the press – they lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction ready to use on us and others; they lied that he had nuclear weapons, they lied that he had chemical and biological weapons.
They lied that we would be welcomed by Iraqis with open arms, that we were liberating them, that we could destroy the Iraqi army and walk away.
Our government lied about going to war, about sending our fellow citizens to war – one of the most solemn tasks that governments have. These people who lied, then, are directly responsible for the thousands of American lives lost and all the Iraqis lost. They are responsible for the 30,000 Americans injured because of the war.
They are responsible for one of the most disastrous foreign policy decisions in modern American history. They are also responsible for wasting so much money and so much of the resources of our country, that their policies set the stage for the worst economic disaster in 70 years.
These lies have to stop now. And we must make them stop. We, the American people.
The lies are definitely continuing to this day. Dick Cheney says he would do it again. George W Bush is totally un-remorseful. The Republican candidate who just lost the November election, called the war a “war of liberation” just days ago.
In order to maintain any sense of democracy in this country, we must ensure that those responsible are indeed held accountable. What does that mean? We’re not certain. But an investigation would be a good start. Then a second excellent step would be indictments.
The decisions to misrepresent what weapons that Hussein had in order to convince the American people that we had to go to war – were not based on or were not mistakes, errors, or mis-judgements; they were conscious, intentional misrepresentations – in other words – lies. They lied about why we had to go to war. They had to lie because initially at least the American people were not convinced.
So the Bush administration had to link Iraq with 9-11. That was the only emotional issue left in their arsenal. There had to be a link and connection between Saddam and al-Queda, despite the irreconcilable differences those two had. Hussein had to be connected to the massacre of Americans, even though our leaders failed us in responding to intelligence about those fateful plans. Al-Queda had to be receiving arms and weapons from Iraq. These were the lies we were told.
The Failure – No, Duplicity – of the Mass Media
The media was also culpable during the run-up to the war and then during the invasion, and for years afterwards. The mass media, the corporate media, simply did not do its job, did not perform its duty – its duty of questioning the decisions of government. That’s why the press is called the “Fourth Estate” (the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary are the 3 other “estates” of government), as the press in a “free and democratic country” acts as part of the so-called checks and balances, as a last resort for the truth.
But the media, the press utterly failed during all the months while the government clamored for war. It more than failed, it jumped on the band wagon – remember “the embedded reporters”? – the corporate media lapsed onto the reasons to go to war without any serious questioning. The press absolutely failed to hold the needed discussion of whether the nation should go to war with Iraq; it failed to ask the right questions; it failed in doing the needed research; it did not hold those politicians – even a popular President – to the truth.
This failure of the corporate media is hugely the reason why a whole new generation and world of political blogs appeared, the blogosphere, – that rose up in response to this abysmal failure of the media. The OB Rag and then the San Diego Free Press were both part of the later waves of that same response to the failure of the mass media.
This development of new media forms when the old ones become woefully pitiful – in part due to a divisive war, was also reflected a generation earlier, when because of the failure of the mass media in telling the public the truth about another war – this one the Vietnam war, there was an explosion of “underground newspapers” across America. And the original OB Rag and the original San Diego Free Press / Street Journal were all part of that blossoming of alternative media.
A Divided Country
Ever since the invasion, the country has been divided by the war. At first, it was only the left and the anti-Iraq war movement who said anything, and which mounted huge demonstrations around the country during the Fall before the spring invasion of 2003.
However, those demonstrations – and those that followed over the years – were vilified, ignored, down-played, snubbed.
And the lies had to continue, for the American people still were not convinced. Even though many Democratic legislators voted for the war – like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry – many did not. And now – 10 years later – those Democrats who voted for the war are apologizing and those who didn’t vote for war, wear that vote like a badge of honor.
It’s no mistake that the first popular Democrat in the 2004 Presidential primaries was anti-war: Vermont Governor Howard Dean – and it’s no mistake that he was smashed politically by the mainstream press, both Time magazine and Newsweek slammed him for making noises at a victory rally. What the Dems then got – John Kerry – was only a luke-warm anti-war candidate – who lost.
And it was no mistake that we now have a President named Barak Obama – because he was the anti-war candidate in 2008 – this time a successful one. It’s a strong indicator that most of the American people have been against the Iraq war for many years.
So, what must happen?
In order to keep America America, in order to maintain a semblance of democracy, we must hold those who lied and who are responsible for the deaths and injuries of so many of our countrymen and women responsible.
For the sake of our children and for the sake of future generations of Americans, – hell, for our sake – we must bring to a halt immediately these lies, and bring those who lied to account for the lies. In a democratic country, there are consequences for words and actions that cause so much harm.
It is called justice.
We must call for justice then.
Note: “Hubris” – the story of how the government lied about the Iraq war, is on msnbc Friday night March 22, with a discussion following.