Ten Years

We’ve passed the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. I have little to add to what Paul Krugman wrote already. For example:

The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.

The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.

A lot of us saw clearly that the nation was being bamboozled into a stupid, unnecessary war. There were massive protests on the streets of New York that got no press coverage. One March just before the war jammed the streets from Times Square to Washington Square, and all along the route people were waving and hanging anti-war signs from their windows. Those New Yorkers understood that the stampede to war was not really about 9/11, an event still raw and smoldering in New Yorkers’ hearts. Why didn’t the press see it?

Krugman points out that we are still living with a false consensus, this time about economic policy. Eric Boehlert asks if Twitter could have stopped the war; I doubt it, any more than it’s stopping the phony idea about a “debt crisis.”

That there were, in fact, educated and knowledgeable people who opposed the invasion of Iraq for good and well-informed reasons, and not because of a lack of patriotism or a forgetting of 9/11, amounted to what Mark Twain called the “silent assertion lie.” This was first published in the New York World in 1899 —

For instance. It would not be possible for a humane and intelligent person to invent a rational excuse for slavery; yet you will remember that in the early days of the emancipation agitation in the North the agitators got but small help or countenance from any one. Argue and plead and pray as they might, they could not break the universal stillness that reigned, from pulpit and press all the way down to the bottom of society–the clammy stillness created and maintained by the lie of silent assertion–the silent assertion that there wasn’t anything going on in which humane and intelligent people were interested.

From the beginning of the Dreyfus case to the end of it all France, except a couple of dozen moral paladins, lay under the smother of the silent-assertion lie that no wrong was being done to a persecuted and unoffending man. The like smother was over England lately, a good half of the population silently letting on that they were not aware that Mr. Chamberlain was trying to manufacture a war in South Africa and was willing to pay fancy prices for the materials.

That last bit was about Joseph Chamberlain, father of Neville Chamberlain, who was an important figure in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War, which was about control of South African gold mines. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

It is a bit heartening to see what has changed since then. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC would have been unimaginable ten years ago, for example. The once-invincible Vast Right-Wing-Conspiracy is in chaos. But there’s room for improvement.

18 thoughts on “Ten Years

  1. I was living in Chapel Hill, NC, while all of this run-up to the Iraq BS was going on, and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, or cry.

    This was before I really got involved with commenting on blags. I had only very shortly before started reading them.
    But it was the period of time when I stopped relying on the NY Times, and instead on the local McClatchy (then Knight Ridder) paper out of Raleigh.
    They weren’t part of the DC Village mindset, and didn’t interview everyone inside the Village to get information, and pass it off as “news.”
    And so, instead of inbred “news,” I got a more realistic appraisal of what was going on, and what could happen.
    And so, because of Knight Ridder, and the few Liberal blogs I had discovered by then, I knew the NY Times, the WaPo, and almost everyone on TV news was full of sh*t.

    There were three points where I was sure the Bush Administration had “jumped-the-shark,” and people would ‘see the light:’
    -The ‘smoking gun as a mushroom cloud,’ line.
    I laughed!
    WAAAY over the top, kids!
    -The little, itsy-bitsy Iraqi airplanes, dispensing clouds of pure evil, all across the US.
    I laughed again!!
    Surely, no one bought THAT BS?
    -Then, the TV news coverage of people Saran-wrapping their homes, like THAT was going to save people from the itsy-bitsy Iraqi airplanes, dispensing clouds of pure evil, all across the US.
    I laughed again!!!
    Surely THAT was SOOOOOO FAR over the top, that the whole house of lies, would topple!
    People couldn’t be stupid enough to forget that, no matter how many times you wrapped your home in plastic, you still needed Oxygen, and the wrapping wouldn’t stop Anthrax, or some chemical or biological aerosol agent, no matter how much you were told it would, if there was enough of it, and/or you were close to it. And if it could, you’d have been dead a long time from Oxygen deprivation.
    But, TV news kept propelling the propaganda, and no matter how many times I pointed out the absurdity of what was going on to other people, we went right on into Iraq, a country that had as much to do with 9/11, since it was a secular Muslim country, as China did with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    It’s as if, after December 7th, 1941, the Roosevelt Administration looked to attack China, and justified it by saying, “Hey, they got slanted-eyes, too, don’t they? And the Opium will pay for the invasion!”

    And then, Afghanistan being bad enough, when we went into Iraq.
    I cried.
    And I’ve been crying ever since.

    I did my part to help right things, as much as I could.
    Shortly after the war started, I became a lead anti-war, anti-torture, anti-rendition, organizer in Fayetteville, NC (home of Fort Bragg), after my job took me to that city.
    I don’t know what that accomplished, but at least I wasn’t home, sitting on my fat ass, watching TV news, and crying.

    The whole Bush Adminstration should be tried for War Crimes.
    And any of the MSM pro-war “journalists” and pundits, should lose their jobs now, since they shouldnt have held onto them for much longer than it took to discover that there were NO WMD, and that they’d been suckered and used.
    But, sadly, that’ll never happen.

    Tragically, “Bush’s Folly” will go unpunished.

  2. maha,
    Since my comment on your last post clearly better belongs here, I hope you don’t mind if I repeat it:
    WAAAAY OT – Powerful, POWEFUL, anti-war letter written to Bush and Cheney by a dying vet:


    Today is the 10th anniversary of “Bush’s Worst Folly,” when he and his band of arrogant, greedy incompetent imbeciles, got us involved in a needless war and occupation of a country that had as much to do with 9/11/01, as China did to 12/7/41.

    This vet will bel be dead soon.
    The miasmatic collection of morons who are responsible for his death, and the death of thousands of American troops, scores of thousands of American troops crippled, both physically and mentally, with who knows how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s dead, and how many millions displaced, will continue to enjoy life.

    In a just world, they’d be spending the rest of their days either at the Hague, or, better yet, caring for all of the wounded – but sadly, their only skill is in creating dead and wounded people, not caring for them.

    So, The Hague, it should be – at hard labor – until the second they die.
    And then, buried in unmarked graves – or preferrably, cremated – with their ashes mixed with molten glass, cooled, and then buried deep in the earth, so that their toxic remains won’t pollute anything near them.

  3. “And then, buried in unmarked graves – or preferrably, cremated – with their ashes mixed with molten glass, cooled, and then buried deep in the earth, so that their toxic remains won’t pollute anything near them.” Jeb is ready to step forward and serve, 2016.

  4. Tragically, “Bush’s Folly” will go unpunished.

    Remember that noise Lurch, the Addams Family butler, used to make deep in his throat?

    I am making that noise now. Not much else I can do, really.

  5. Oh, you liberals! You’re so impatient…it won’t be long before you see that Bush was the greatest President America ever had…

    Bush’s Folly?…Sheesh! Sometimes greatness can only be recognized from a distance.

  6. I remember that time well, because I was starting to feel a bit like I was crazy. I mean, there were professional journalists who must be reading the same news stories I was while doing their research – so why was the reporting so *bad*?

    The IAEA were the people who’d caught Saddam trying to cheat originally, in the Clinton years – but now, they thought he’d stopped his nuclear program. The government kept pushing the potential nuclear threat. Buh??? The aluminum tubes were not workable for centrifuges, and the Iraqis could demonstrate why they’d ordered them – they’d been trying to reverse engineer rockets, and the previous set of tubes, to looser specs, hadn’t done the job for them. But people kept talking about them. And we later learned that Bush knew that the yellowcake story was bullshit, but felt that he could lie by saying that the UK thought it was true. And yeah, he got away with it. If his mom wasn’t reflexively clasping a bar of soap for a week after that… well, never mind.

    The UN resolution was explicitly worded to avoid an automatic war trigger – you couldn’t follow the story of that last resolution without seeing that. And as soon as they got it, the White House started insisting they had their war trigger, and the reporters didn’t call them out.

    When the hydrogen generators were found, it was swiftly reported that they didn’t have the signs of being mobile weapons labs – and then people started reporting that, of course they were mobile weapons labs (and even Colin Powell parroted that line – so much for any respect I had for him for playing “good soldier” to a shitty CinC).

    I do have some guilt to report. If the UN had approved the attack, I’d have thought it was okay. It took me some months to, well….

    I knew that people would die. I knew a lot of people would die. But it took a few months to internalize that. To feel that. To make those people into *people*, not just statistics. Do you get what I mean? It took me time to realize how shitty, how murderous, how hideous, war was. On the plus side, I keep that lesson close to my heart now, I always strive to remember there are real, living, breathing human beings affected by things. Not just war – it’s given me a new horror of our “justice” system, as well.

    Heh. It reminds me of how I felt when Heath Ledger’s Joker explained that if you kill a truckload of soldiers, that’s okay, because that’s all in accordance with “the plan”, but say you’re going to kill one stupid old mayor, and everyone just *loses* it. Like, somehow, in his insanity, he was understanding something that so many people disregarded.

  7. As an American..I’m ashamed…One big shit stain on America..And I thank God I had the wisdom not to be taken in by that whole shameful episode of America’s history.


  8. I tried to look back at the comments made here but it didn’t go back that far..However I can tell you what I said. I was baffled by how I , a slightly dumb housewife living in no where Iowa could figure out this was all a big fat bullshit lie and the powers that be could not. But look, anyone who was waving the rah rah flag for war in Iraq KNEW it was bullshit.(This comment WILL be delayed for moderation…Sorry Maha)

    Why did the media do such a bad job? Really? You need to ask? Well I don’t need to be CNN to remember how good the ratings were for the first gulf war. Why would any media outlit turn down a chance to have ratings like that again? You think they are motivated by journalistic integrity? Please, all they cared about is ratings and not ending up as the “most Un American news network” which is what would have happened to ANY one who dare question the war the bush administration WANTED. They were like children on a deceptive quest for a new toy..They wanted it and “No” was not an option. Ask Dan Rather. Anyone who questioned anything the bush administration did was reduced to NOTHING and they only needed to make an example out of one to make the rest STFU.

    The Gun debate reminds me of how their (the bushies) tactic worked.The gun nuts are trying to take a page from that playbook. Shout em down and shut em down before anyone can start to think about what was said and they start to reason. Wave that damn flag in the face of anyone who says “wait a minute” till they just disappear. Bring out the “nuts and sluts” defense to reduce anyone who does slip thru the cracks and speaks up to crumble the words they said before they start to spread.Ask the poor dixie chicks how that works.

    I hope to God we learned something as a nation as the cost of all those lives. I cannot put into words what bush and pals did to this country( not to mention a few others) and the damage his actions did to our relations with the rest of the world

    What I learned is republican politicians are dirty evil people with an agenda. They will tell you what you want to hear and smile to your face while lying thru their teeth. And once they get into power they unleash the agenda they had all along on the rest of the world and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.In addition to mittwitt being a jerk, I have no doubt he too had a agenda for how this country could make him richer that included another “war” (see his budget for the unexplained increase in un requested military spending and do the math at home).I can’t imagine how we could survive as a nation if another group of terrorists (Yep I called em terrorists and I meant it) gets into the white house. People like bush ( yep there are more of them) don’t care if they destroy a nation , they will take the billions they made off of a war and go live somewhere else. Bush and pals were not in the white house to be leaders. They were there because it was the only way to get the agenda done. Bush and his pals looted Iraq and their oil fields of billions. They are still raking in the $$ and laughing at our dumb asses all the way to the bank while our country is about to go bankrupt trying to pay for it. The lie to get there seems to upset everyone more than that. These people looted our money, our future and the lives of our children but the lie is the problem? They turned the whole damn world upside down and shook it like a snow globe till the oil and money they wanted fell out and sent you the bill.

    And the sad thing is these war criminals will live free here forever protected by US. If someone in another nation brought the charges against bush and pals our government would protect them and not turn them over to face justice..And you know what? That brings us full circle back to the stupidville rape case..As one of the rapists said “You know what? Some people just deserve to be peed on” Wanna know where this kid may have learned that from? Well when we clean the bushie pee off all of us and the nation (10 yrs later) we might be able to figure out the kid got the brazen attitude by watching our last president and his merry band of “men”

  9. yep I knew that comment would be headed for “moderation” 2 bad words in one paragraph was a bad start. I will go sit in the corner now

  10. At Truthdig there is this : The Last Letter…A message to gw bush and dick cheney from a dying Vet named Tomas(no i didn’t forget the h) Young. If you have a minute his words really are worth reading. I hate to seem like I am guilting anyone, but he found time to serve and now lay in hospice waiting to die. I am saddened his letter did not make national news . He deserves that.If you can spare a minute listen to how one vet feels. If you can spare a minute pass it on to people you know also.

  11. The Daddy Party and their enablers will never admit they peed their pants and got really, really stupid with fear after 9/11.

  12. ” I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

    In scriptural parlance… He’s (Chaney) been given over to Satan. The only chance that either Bush or Chaney will beg for forgiveness is if the Biblical story of the judgment seat of Christ is true..and if it is true, they’ll beg in vain, and both Bush and Chaney will be swimming in the lake of fire.

    Bush’s crimes against humanity go well beyond what he did in Iraq. If the GOP Really wanted to boost their ailing popularity, they should campaign to deliver up both those criminals to the Hague.
    Chaney is like the Frankenstein monster..He’s composed of body parts from corpses. He such a vile creature that even death doesn’t want him.

  13. Latrine graffiti from Vietnam….

    War is mind over matter. Congress doesn’t mind, and we don’t matter.

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