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War Stories

Schwarzkopf and Bush
Schwarzkopf and Bush
General Norman Schwarzkopf and President George Bush | Photo: Associated Press | Norman Schwarzkopf, George Bush, Presidnet, General, Army, Hero, Icon, War, Iraq, Desert Storm,

We fall for them again and again.

A decade ago, the United States went to war with Iraq to stop it from destroying America with nuclear and biological weapons that didn't exist.

The cost? $2.2 trillion and 190,000 lives. The benefit? Nada.

A decade ago, the Bush administration told us, repeatedly, that the case for Saddam's WMDs was open and shut. Centrifuges, mobile weapons platforms, they couldn't have any purpose but building super-weapons to destroy us. Plus it was just as conclusive that Saddam was linked to al Qaeda, so at any second he might give them a nuke to use on us. And besides, 9/11!

Multiple defectors and experts pointed out the evidence was shaky, but so what? Vice-President Cheney said if there was even a 1 percent chance of an attack, we had to go to war. Condoleeza Rice summed it up as "we can't wait for the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud," ducking the fact that there was no smoking gun. After the war, Bush claimed we had no choice but to go in after Saddam threw the UN weapons inspectors out, adding another falsehood to the pile (they left with inspections unfinished, because the invasion was imminent).

We got the same kind of bullshit when Bush began shredding the Constitution. Illegal warrantless eavesdropping was okay because the NSA was only targeting terrorists, Detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay was fine because everyone locked up there was "the worst of the worst." Neither was true.

Not that the blame is all Bush's. Congress voted for everything Bush wanted, however unconstitutional. Much of the media parroted White House claims without questioning. White House correspondent Elizabeth Bumiller said they couldn't challenge the evidence because "no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time." Despite his campaign promises, Obama hasn't closed Gitmo.

None of this is surprising because it's happened before. We went into World War I because Germans were fiends who bayoneted Belgian babies for kicks, put ground glass into food shipments and sent disease-infected military officers into American movie theaters as walking bioweapons.

We imprisoned Japanese-Americans in World War II because every Japanese American was fanatically loyal to the emperor, and willing to sell out America to their real master. We had to go into Vietnam because North Vietnam had launched a totally unprovoked attack on an American ship. We had to go into Iraq in the first Gulf War because Iraqi soldiers were yanking Kuwaiti preemies out of incubators to die. Oh, and Saddam was massing his forces on the border of Saudi Arabia to invade there too.

If you missed the point, none of those excuses were true. And the bullshit doesn't stop. There's no evidence Iran has a nuclear weapons programs, but pundits and politicians keep invoking Iran's nukes as a justification for another war. More generally, just yelling "Terrorism! Al Qaeda! 9/11!" has been a good enough reason for W, then Obama (and undoubtedly the next guy) to send troops anywhere. Or there's always "If we don't attack, we'll look weak and embolden our enemies!" which is almost as effective as a universal excuse.

This is meant to put the Iraq war in perspective, not to excuse it. It's happened before, it will happen again, but that in no way gets Bush or Cheney off the hook. At best, they were so determined to take out Saddam, they blotted out any facts that didn't fit their wishes. At worst, they lied through their teeth.

Either way, they wasted billions of dollars and thousands of American and Iraqi lives to get their dream.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:10 PM EDT | More details

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