Recently by Eric Margolis: There Goes One of Washington's Favorite BadBoys
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.
In October, 2002, I wrote a cover-story about Iraq for the first issue of American Conservative magazine, entitled "The March to Folly." My article predicted the impending invasion of Iraq would be a disaster for all concerned.
The only victor of war with Iraq War, I wrote, would be Israel, whose nuclear monopoly and regional domination would be assured. So it has come to be.
Iraq was split into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Anger against the US reached new intensity. The titanic bill for the Iraq War was $1 trillion, all of its hidden in the ballooning US national debt. Nearly 5,000 US soldiers were killed; some 50,000 wounded, many with grave brain injuries. Iraqi casualties are uncertain, though the total is likely over one million.
Parts of Iraq are contaminated by US and British depleted uranium munitions. Diseases, wiped out under the late Saddam Hussein, have returned. Saddam's sadistic secret police have been replaced by almost equally cruel security forces of the US-backed Baghdad regime. Once among the most advanced Arab nations, much of Iraq today is ruined. At least it no longer threatens its neighbors.
Amazingly, America's right wing and media still hails this disaster as a victory. Many Americans still believe the Bush administration's lies that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. Some also still believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened North America.
The politicians who concocted this war, namely George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Britain's Tony Blair, have escaped any criminal censure for misleading their people into a conflict whose goal was to grab Iraq's vast oil reserves and crush an enemy of Israel.
Similarly, the many print and TV journalists and commentators who acted as cheer-leaders for the war and its bodyguard of lies remain prominently in public view today. So too the so-called military experts who championed the war. Instead of slinking away after the war, they simply switched their aim to Iran.
Most shockingly, the insidious role of the pro-war neoconservatives in promoting the war was never fully revealed to Americans. Yet for a time, a pro-Israel neocon cabal linked up with aggressive big oil men like Cheney and Rumsfeld to drive the US into a totally unnecessary war against former US ally, Saddam Hussein. Israel's leader, Ariel Sharon, thundered, "the road to Tehran lies through Baghdad."
The small number of American journalists, Mideast analysts, CIA and State Department experts who dared challenge Bush's absurd claims about Iraq's supposed nukes and "drones of death" lost their jobs and have been sidelined to this day.
This writer, for example, was one of the first to assert in public that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no means of delivery even if it did. For my pains, I was blacklisted by a major US national TV network for whom I had regularly broadcast. Other blacklistings followed.
Bush's modern-day Crusade against Iraq discredited the mainstream media in the eyes of many younger Americans and led to their growing reliance on their internet. Polls showed that only 24% of Americans trusted media to tell them the facts. The US media, with key exceptions, had followed the old Soviet media in acting as a mouthpiece for the government instead of a tribune for the public.
The Iraq War accelerated the militarization of US society and conduct of foreign affairs, and further curtailed individual freedoms endangered by the attacks of 9/11. It left the US saddled with a crushing debt. While bridges and roads across America were crumbling, the US was spending $80 billion on "rebuilding" Iraq. Nearly all this money was stolen and never seen again.
The crushing of Iraq, a small nation of 24 million rent by rebellion and wrecked by sanctions, was shamelessly trumpeted by the US media and politicians as a titanic victory for American arms akin to World War II. The aged US Republican leader John McCain, made giddy by the jolly little war in Iraq, sang, "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."
As King Pyrrhus exclaimed in 279 BC after a brutal, bloody battle, "one more such victory and we are lost."