Sixteen Years

Paul Waldman reminds us that the invasion of Iraq was 16 years ago today. It says something that those seem like relatively innocent times compared to what we’re going through now. But Waldman’s question is, “What did we learn?”

Democrats learned a number of things. Many of them, including figures like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, learned that trying to look “strong” by supporting military adventurism makes you look anything but. And they learned that their worst fears about what such adventurism can bring came true.

I don’t know that Kerry and Clinton really learned that. Well, Kerry, maybe. In 2008 he said, “Four years ago today, the United States Senate voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq. There’s nothing — nothing — in my life in public service I regret more, nothing even close. We should all be willing to say: I was wrong, I should not have voted for the Iraq War Resolution.”

But when he was running for POTUS in 2004, and many times since 2008, Kerry has claimed that he really truly opposed invading Iraq back in 2002 and only voted for the Iraq War resolution … well, he seems to come up with differing reasons for voting for the Iraq War resolution. says that at the time Kerry was mostly supportive of invading Iraq but criticized how Bush was going about it.

Hillary Clinton has made several different excuses for the vote, ranging from an argument that she really just wanted Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq (people forget that he did; Bush invaded anyway) to saying that yes, she was sorry about the vote, but having made that mistake made her uniquely qualified to not make it again.

However, I do think that other Democrats learned a lesson from the damage the vote did to Kerry and Clinton and have realized that it’s okay to oppose military adventurism. I believe that future Dems will not be so easily cowed by Republican war-mongering. So that’s something.

But what did Republicans learn? Waldman says, nothing.

It may have faded from most people’s memory by now, but in the 2016 presidential primaries the Republican Party was bedeviled by the question of Iraq, and specifically whether the war was a mistake. Though that was evident to every sane person in the country, it was a hard thing for those seeking to lead the party to admit, because their entire party couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about it at the time, and acknowledging the truth would mean criticizing the last Republican president.

The excuse is, of course, that the intelligence was wrong. But the real intelligence, meaning the genuine information available about Saddam Hussein’s capabilities and intentions,  wasn’t wrong. The morons in the White House refused to believe it because they wanted to go to war, so they made up their own intelligence.

Of the Republican candidates in 2016, Trump was alone in saying he wouldn’t have gone into Iraq, although that’s far from certain.

Yes, in typical fashion, Trump told a ludicrous series of lies about what a loud opponent he had been in 2003, even claiming that his opposition was so potent that the Bush administration sent a delegation to New York to beg him to tone it down. (In fact, he had said almost nothing publicly about the war and didn’t oppose it.) …

Trump ran for president saying he didn’t want to get entangled in more invasions like Iraq. But this wasn’t because he worried about the cost in human suffering or the threat to American interests, because he doesn’t care about human suffering and never demonstrated much conception of what American interests might be. His point was more that he wouldn’t invade someplace to spread democracy, nor would he favor military action to stop a genocide.

But what about the rest of the party?

But there’s absolutely no evidence that anyone in the Republican Party learned much of anything from the Iraq disaster. The next Republican president will probably be just as eager to launch an invasion or two as the last one was. You don’t hear them talk about the lessons of Iraq, because they didn’t draw any.

Within the GOP, the Bush Doctrine — or at least the part of it involving the belief that American military force is a useful tool to shape the world to our liking, and unintended consequences are not really anything to worry about — lives on. It’s just in suspended animation until Trump is no longer leading the party.

The Republican Party as we know it has to die.

9 thoughts on “Sixteen Years

  1. Finally, this answers the decades long question – AGAIN! – "Is our Republican's learning?"

    "HELL F'IN' NO!", is the completely unsurprising answer!

    "Mission Unaccomplished!!!"


  2. As for the Democrats, the answer appears to be, "Yes."  "Maybe."

    POTUS Obama didn't order countless troops to invade Syria, or North Korea, or other hotspots.  He did, however, send some troops to Syria to support anti-Assad forces..

    As that great WWII leader, Winston Churchill, once said, "Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war. (This is commonly misquoted as, 'It's better to jaw-jaw than to war-war)."

    Since even before WWII*, our series of endless wars and military interventions, and support for Authoritarian leaders around the globe, have resulted in billions of people dead, wounded, or displaced – BILLIONS! – not to mention hundred's of thousands of our military personnel. 

    THAT is the part of our history that we don't acknowledge, let alone discuss.  And that is why we are probably doomed to repeat the costly (in blood and treasure) mistakes of our past.

    To me, the first step towards showing that we might have learned something, is for Congress to withdraw the AUMF!

    Let "We the people" have a say about future possible military action(s) through our elected representatives in the House and Senate.

    Anything less than that means that we will, as Santayana predicted, be doomed to repeat our previous immoral and stupid mistakes.

    * A lot of people don't realize that between the Spanish-American War and WWII, we had (virtually) countless military actions in the support of American corporate interests in – but not limited to – Central and South America.  

    "We the people" need to find ways to limit our government's support of American/global corporation's interests by using our military to aid and abet in the furtherance of increasing their profits.


  3. I can get why Max Boot would be discarded by neocons.  He recanted.  But Bill Kristol?  And then W said: “May we never forget that immigration is a blessing and a strength.”  Yet don’t they hate us for our freedoms?  Trump doesn’t want to fight them anymore but also doesn’t want them here.  And his crowd cheers.  Too much confusion for me. 

    Maybe Republicans like shiny objects.  But unlike the other shiny object likers they worship the dickens out of theirs.  Especially if they're retarded.  Dumb and dumber shiny object worshipers. It's like hanging a bag of shit on the family Christmas tree and deciding it needs to be the star instead so it can be better admired. Oy.

  4. Once a sociologist told me that humans are instinctively not prepared to kill another human, that it takes something to interfere with that to get them to kill.  One way is to dehumanize the enemy.  That makes it okay and easier to kill.  I also remember having a conversation with a Native American leader who said it is easier to kill someone from a distance like with bombs.  He said that hand to hand combat where one looks the other in the eye is very difficult.  Of course, it still happens.  There is a thought among some who study these things that the earth plane and our solar system is on the verge of entering the fourth dimension.  It is a more peaceful dimension and souls that have not evolved will not be able to survive in the higher vibrations.  Guess they will have to  find another planet system.  If  Trump is smart, he will get there first and set up his kingdom.

  5. Hillary Clinton appears to have learned nothing (see the attack on Libya — a clear war crime).   Even Donald Trump hasn't (yet) done anything as bad as that.

  6. Swami – The mind boggles. I'm a recovering Catholic myself – eleven years of parochial school.

    Mostly good experiences. I was an Altar Boy, the shortest in my class at Holy Cross. In the Catholic Mass (Latin in my day) we delivered and moved various objects for the priest. One Irish priest, Father Conden, had a fierce public disposition but he was always aware of my presence and discretely moved things to be in my reach. A simple act of kindness I'll always remember. There was no sexual misconduct that I ever heard a whisper of. The biggest scandal was that the Monsignor who had run the parish since slightly after Moses died was 'retired' by the bishop with no opportunity for a farewell. He'd been caught in a financial hoax – he'd been keeping the High School afloat by transferring money from the Cemetary Fund (which was awash in cash for Catholics who had no need of money). The Monsignor must have known he'd be caught and disciplined when there was an audit – he made no effort to conceal the diversion of cash. Which means he sacrificed himself so I, and a few hundred other typical scrrewed-up teens, could get a solid education with fundamental ethics built in.  I was in the last graduating class – the bishop shut it down.

    That's not an attempt to challenge the report of abuse. Nor do I doubt the evil done by people in the Catholic Church and other deniminations. Even more disgusting is the systematic trend for the church elders to look the other way, even turning the wolf loose on a new flock. It does happen and I make no excuse for it.

    In my personal experience, I've seen many kind people, some who wore the collar,  devote themselves to the service of others and I've seen that attitude in many different faiths. This I also can't forget.

  7. Doug..That comment was just a comment of opportunity to point out the depraved human characteristic of taking advantage of another persons vulnerability at a time of desperation. A trait that is preeminent in Trump's character. It wasn't intended to single out any religion or actual Trump voters. Supporters maybe, but only those who manage to look the other way when they have full knowledge of who Trump is and the values he represents.

     Maybe it's a flaw in my character that I should take a closer look at myself because I have an obsession to not allow an opportunity to pass where I don't take a swipe at Trump. I view him through spiritual eyes which compels me to aggressively respond to what I see as a call to decency, and I also see him through the eyes of a patriot and veteran. He's a disgusting display of what American represents. He's a bag of shit of the highest order.

    OK.. I just got my nite-cap therapy !

  8. Swami – No criticism of you was intended. The story, though horrific, is worth knowing. The reaction of the church and law enforcement is worth following. I hope to never minimize the impact of an abuse of authority (which Trump is the poster boy of.)

    There's no easy answer but when we criticize the abuse of power, people tend to think the existence of authority is the problem. The falacious conclusion is that we should do away with religion (kneejerk athieism) and do away with goverment. (libertarian)

    The problem is the abuse of power – not power itself. I don't see any way to require a philosophy of selfless service among the clergy. In government service, we could cut off the opportunity to get rich from your time in office. The people who think using government power to protect the rich is virtuous will not be eager to run for office if their devotion to the rich can't be rewarded after they leave office. 

Comments are closed.