Will neoconservatives be held responsible for orchestrating a war in order to pursue their Middle Eastern agenda? Will they get away with inflicting death and injury on thousands of Iraqis and Americans?
Powerful people have good reasons to hold the neocons accountable. Secretary of State Colin Powell is one. Deceived into lying to the United Nations when he presented the case for a preemptive US attack on Iraq, Secretary Powell was ruthlessly used by neocon administration officials. Colin Powell put his reputation on the line when he gave the UN assurances that “every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”
There was not a word of truth or intelligence in what Powell told the UN. Iraq most certainly was NOT developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was NOT involved with al Qaida and the September 11 attacks on the US. Saddam Hussein had NO weapons of mass destruction to give to terrorists.
President Bush also has good reason to hold the neocons responsible. Deceived and trapped in a war of attrition that can have no successful outcome, Bush’s credibility is burdened with speeches even more egregious than Powell’s UN speech.
Fed disinformation, Bush dutifully regurgitated neocon fabrications that Iraq possessed 500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 30,000 prohibited warheads, and uranium from Niger. America had to attack Iraq, Bush said, before these fearsome weapons could be used against us.
Vice President Cheney’s fear mongering was more extreme than Bush’s. Cheney claimed that Iraq had “reconstituted nuclear weapons.” References to “mushroom clouds” over American cities made ears deaf to voices of reason.
Congress has an incentive to hold the neocons accountable. Fear created by neocon lies caused Congress to emasculate itself, to give up its war powers and to agree to massive sums of money being wasted on a pointless war.
The US media has good cause to hold the neocons accountable. Neocons manipulated the media and turned reporters, news networks and publications into war propagandists. Uncritical acceptance of neocon propaganda has made laughingstocks out of “conservative” media, such as Fox News, the Weekly Standard, National Review and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
For example, the current issue (Nov. 24) of the Weekly Standard confidently reports that a “top secret U.S. government memorandum” leaked to the magazine proves beyond any doubt that “Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda — perhaps even for Mohammed Atta.”
These improbable revelations raised no suspicions at the Weekly Standard or Fox News, which fed the story to the public without checking it out.
The US Department of Defense repudiated the story in a November 15, 2003 press release: “News reports that the Defense Department recently confirmed new information with respect to contacts between al Qaida and Iraq in a letter [from Undersecretary Douglas Feith] to the Senate Intelligence Committee are inaccurate.”
All the Weekly Standard has is a “classified annex” containing “raw reports” or unsupported claims such as those made by self-serving Iraqi exiles. The Defense Department news release says that “the classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaida, and it drew no conclusions.”
But the propagandists at the Weekly Standard were not deterred by facts.
Neoconservatives have made as big a fool of the American public as they have of President Bush. The US has been tricked into waging a war that already has cost us $200 billion and the sympathy of the world, a war that disrupts the lives of tens of thousands of reserve and national guard families, kills and maims our troops and Iraqi civilians, destroys our alliances and foreign policy, and recruits terrorists for bin Laden.
Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.