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Neocons and the Iraq War: Their view then and now 10 years later

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President George W. Bush speaking before signing the congressional resolution authorizing U.S. use of force against Iraq during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 16, 2002.

Second of two articles.

Ten years ago, the Bush administration’s foreign policy was in the thrall of a movement called “neoconservatism” (which was, in fact, neither new nor conservative). Shortly before the commencement of the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign that kicked off the Iraq War, I tried to capture the neocon theory in a front-page story in the Strib. From that story:

An influential group of foreign policy thinkers sees the possibly imminent overthrow of Saddam Hussein as just one early step in an ambitious blueprint to spread democracy throughout the world and eliminate threats to the United States.

Although they developed their thinking long before the Sept. 11 attacks, the strategists, often called neoconservatives or neocons, have increased their influence over the Bush administration since Sept. 11, many foreign policy analysts say.

Critics argue that the neocon ideas, including “regime change,” are a recipe for perpetual war, because they would steer the United States into many confrontations.

There would be a long list of regimes to be changed.

But the neocons themselves and their supporters say that the United States has an unprecedented historical opportunity to reshape the world in ways that will make our country safer and the rest of the world freer. The neocons, who sometimes call themselves neo- Reaganites, say the key concept is not perpetual war but “moral clarity backed by military strength.”

Former Minnesota Congressman Vin Weber, now a Washington insider, has signed some of the neocons’ public declarations. He describes their goal as using U.S. power to do good.

“I think we have done some good in Afghanistan,” Weber said. “I believe we will do good in Iraq, and there are other opportunities to do good as well.”

Over the past decade, the neocons have argued that the United States should challenge evil regimes in the Mideast and Asia, spread freedom, democracy and capitalism, jettison Cold War thinking based on deterrence and containment, and de-emphasize old treaties and alliances that get in the way.

Instead of seeking to manage or contain problems and threats, the neocons want to seize this moment of U.S. predominance to eradicate them.”

The piece also quoted former Vice President Walter Mondale as a skeptic of the neocon vision. He called them “democratic imperialists,” and said, “their idea is that with American power you can do wonderful things to change the world. But I’m profoundly skeptical about whether they’ve calculated the costs of some of these projects.”

Turning Iraq into a democracy that would create a wave of reform across the Mideast, as the neocons envision, would be wonderful, Mondale said. But given the deep, explosive hatreds between the major Iraqi population groups and other potential complications, he doubts that the neocons have accurately estimated the duration of the U.S. occupation, the cost to the U.S. treasury and the ultimate chances for success.

How it looks now to Weber

Last week I called my friend Vin Weber, who has often provided a civil, thoughtful Republican view to journalists in need of one. I asked him how those ideas and impulses look to him 10 years later, with the benefit of the Iraq War experience. His response began:

“Well, I certainly don’t wish that Saddam Hussein was still in power in Iraq.”

The war and the occupation of Iraq were “handled badly,” Weber conceded, and “we didn’t need to do it when we did it,” but the Mideast is better off with Saddam gone.

Vin Weber
Vin Weber

Saddam was a monster whose long brutal reign resulted in perhaps a million deaths, Weber said, and who knows how many more would have followed if he had remained in power. Saddam had not only possessed but had used weapons of mass destruction, specifically poison gas which Saddam’s force dropped on the rebellious Kurdish force in northern Iraq.

(Weber didn’t go into this, but the gassing was in 1988, to put down a Kurdish uprising at the end of the Iran-Iraq War. At the time, the United States was still tilting toward Saddam and the administration of the first President Bush opposed sanctions against Saddam for the poison gas incident. One internal State Department memo at the time stated: “Human rights and chemical weapons use aside, in many respects our political and economic interests run parallel with those of Iraq.” Of course, it would be unfair to hold the neocons or their “moral clarity” doctrine accountable for these actions, more than a decade earlier.)

Saddam was a horrible butcher, I conceded to Weber. But at any given moment, there is a worst-dictator-in-the-world who is butchering his opponents. Does neoconservative moral clarity require the United States to keep overthrowing them until the day, if such a day ever comes, when there are none left?

Case for removing Saddam

No, he replied. The case for removing Saddam from power had several elements. He was strategically located in a region of U.S. vital interests. He had possessed WMD in the past and was determined to acquire them again. In the aftermath of 9/11, the possibility that anti-American terror groups could acquire WMD, even nukes, could not be ignored.

I mentioned, of course, that the WMD had not existed. Weber agreed, but noted that not only the United States but other intelligence agencies, including those of Britain and Israel, believed that Saddam had an ongoing program. I mentioned (as I did in Thursday’s installment) that before the United States started the war, the U.N. inspectors had been allowed back in and could find no weapons and no ongoing program to develop them.

Weber didn’t dispute it. He brought up the “Duelfer Report” (technically the final report of the Iraq Survey Group, which made the final, post-war search for weapons in Iraq). True, they found no weapons, but they also concluded that, until he was deposed, Saddam had retained both the capacity and the intent to restart his production of WMDs once the U.N. sanctions regime had finally crumbled and that, as Weber summarized it, “acquiring nuclear weapons was his primary goal.”

The ultimate retrospective justification for the war is this: Yes, sanctions, plus inspections, plus containment had succeeded in preventing Saddam from stockpiling WMD or acquiring nuclear capability, but that triple regime could not be maintained forever and Saddam had not lost his interest in acquiring the weapons.

“The question is, could we have maintained that regime for 10 more years?” Weber asked and then answered: “I’m not sure we could have. And would that have done the job? I don’t believe it would have.”

The only way to remove the threat of Saddam with WMD was to remove Saddam, Weber said.

Roy Grow and Hegel (not Hagel)

All those years ago, the international relations scholar who turned me on to the arrival of the neoconservatives was Carleton College’s Prof. Roy Grow, whose name you may know from many appearances on MPR’s “Midday,” explaining the world to Gary Eichten.

Back then, his assessment went like this (again from the 2003 Strib piece):

Grow called the neocon vision “brilliant, fascinating, sincere, almost evangelical, and really very radical. But to the bottom of my soul, I can’t see the cost-benefit analysis working out in favor of this policy.” He predicted that their blueprint would lead to “two decades of almost perpetual war.”

I called Grow this week to ask him how he thought the Iraq War had turned out as a testing ground for the vision of its architects.

“My bottom line is that I’ve not seen anything to redeem the sacrifice that so many of our young people made for the war,” Grow said. “I honor their effort. I honor their spirit. All I can say is: What a waste. So many broken bodies. The wounds will go on for decades. It just was and still is a disaster. I can’t think of anything good that’s come to America from this. Yes, Saddam is gone, but he never was much of a threat to us.”

Then Grow went really deep on me. He said the neocon impulse might be based on an over-simplistic assessment the impulse deep inside of the average person. The neocons were banking on the belief that , as Grow described it, “deeply embedded in most of the people of the world is what [the German philosopher] Hegel would call ‘democratic man.’”

But when you liberate the oppressed, you may find the inner man that comes to the surface first is not one who wants to vote and debate and build a nation of laws. Grow said that what comes to the surface often seems to be what he called “religious man,” and, I would add, such variations as “tribal man” or “nationalist man” or “xenophobic” man, any or all of which might seriously interfere with the liberators vision of democracy and peace.

But Peter Van Buren, the former State Department official who worked on Iraq post-war reconstruction, who now writes a blog titled “We Meant Well” and who did, after all, have an sustained look at how the Iraqis reacted to the American campaign to civilize them, offered another take on the essence of the interaction between the conqueror/liberators and the conquered/liberatees. He wrote:

A great many people in the world don’t see us the way we think they should see us. Many of the things we do — both in the belief that they do see us that way (we will be welcomed in Iraq with candy and flowers) and in the belief that it will convince them to see us that way — seem to backfire almost 100 percent of the time. And perhaps for the same set of reasons every time. We are foreigners. We are invaders. We kill and maim locals and blow up property.

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Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Robert Saxton on 03/15/2013 - 08:37 am.

    The neocons are pathetic

    So much for personal responsibility. I would have enjoyed seeing Mr. Weber do his talking with both hands covering his rear end. He and the neocons were dead wrong then and they are pathetically, pathologically, wrong now. Our Mideast disasters were predictable by anyone with a shred of observational skills and knowledge of human behavior. There were a few of us lonely souls out there, yelling, demonstrating, trying to prevent this disaster, but a panicked nation, fueled by the neocon engines of war, lurched forth anyway. Listen to them now: excuse after obfuscating excuse. Weber is a partisan political hack who cannot face the damage he helped to wreak on Iraq and our own nation. If he and his neocon brothers cannot face the truth around them, they should get out of public policy before they do any more harm.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 03/15/2013 - 09:05 am.

      Amen to that.

      It is useful on the other hand to perpetually bring back the neocons in order to bludgeon them with their error. The public should never be allowed to forget this episode when this bunch of hacks “conned” them into a catastrophic war that pretty much destroyed any moral capital this country had in the world. I would expect any intellectually honest person would admit that “neoconservatism” has been totally discredited by the disastrous results it produced. The unwillingness of its adherents to admit they were wrong only exposes them further for their true selves.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/15/2013 - 08:46 am.

    It doesn’t add up

    One wonders, if Saddam Hussein was responsible for the deaths of a million of his own people, and if those deaths were part of the justification for our invasion of his country, how the deaths of another million Iraqis over the course of a decade-long war that we started will somehow be seen as a positive outcome.

    I won’t be around to find out, but my guess is that it will be centuries before the United States will be seen in a positive light in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, and the United States, if it still exists far into the future, may well be persona non grata in Iraq in perpetuity.

    Meanwhile, the whole episode ought to — not necessarily will, but ought to — provide a cautionary note to any administration about allowing zealots to direct our foreign policy. People who believe they have THE answer or THE policy to achieve some grand design virtually never do, and as Professor Grow suggests, the costs of those kinds of visions are exceedingly high. I would not be surprised if a great many Iraqis are happy that Saddam is gone for good, but I’d also be surprised if those same Iraqis thought the cost to themselves and their artificial country was worth it.

    As we’ve seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s no guarantee at all that “liberating” a population from an oppressive regime will produce anything resembling freedom and safety. It might simply replace one kind of oppression with another. The very notion of projecting American military might into other parts of the world that have not requested it reflects a degree of hubris quite in keeping with the decline of historical empires going back millennia.

    We have overreached, and the largely unnecessary and avoidable cost in lives and treasure and credibility is not yet fully known. The leaders responsible, including the current ones, would do well to be ashamed.

  3. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/15/2013 - 08:59 am.

    Iraq War=colossal blunder

    NEW YORK, March 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.
    The war has killed at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians and may have contributed to the deaths of as many as four times that number, according to the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.
    When security forces, insurgents, journalists and humanitarian workers were included, the war’s death toll rose to an estimated 176,000 to 189,000, the study said.

    Vin Weber has to be kidding. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so tragic.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/15/2013 - 09:00 am.

    Is the hubris that “makes their own reality” of the noecons any different than the hubris contained within the infamous “5 year plans” of the Soviet central planners?

    The wilful disregard for the way the world is to set out to realize a vision of what the world should be?

    The casual tossing of bodies, lives and countries into the furnace of change and expecting the new world of the desired moulding to appear out of the fire?

    So what did we happen to (then) dislike in Saddam? Casual disregard for human life, human rights, the rule of law?

    We made that all better in 10 years, didn’t we?

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 03/15/2013 - 09:06 am.

    We attacked Iraq because it was WEAK, not because it posed a threat. Neocons have admitted this. Saddam at the time only controlled like a third of his country because of no-fly zones we imposed on the north and south of Iraq. The war was meant to be an object lesson to anyone daring to defy US imperialism. As Eric wrote earlier, the real winner of this war was Iran. That is why they are a target now.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 03/15/2013 - 09:21 am.

    The Republican Party is a Myth based party!

    Remember Cheney saying there would be dancing in the streets when the Americans arrived in Baghdad? A Republican myth! Remember when the Republicans estimated the cost of the war to be 50-60 billion dollars? A Republican myth! Remember when the Republicans claimed there would be minimal loss of life? A Republican myth! Remember when the Republicans claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? A Republican myth! Remember when George W. Bush stood on the aircraft carrier and passively claimed “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”? A Republican myth! Remember the Republicans saying they want to make changes to their party? Some of CPAC’s first speakers were Palin, West, Trump, Bachmann, Gingrich, Gohmert, and McConnell. Change – a Republican myth! It seems the only thing that can be extracted from the Republican’s rhetoric is, they are not to be trusted.

    • Submitted by Diane Nelson on 03/15/2013 - 02:44 pm.


      Cheney said said we’d be greeted as liberators, and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz claimed the Iraq war would pay for itself.

  7. Submitted by Ken Wedding on 03/15/2013 - 10:23 am.

    Philosophical views

    Thanks, again, Eric, for great journalism.

    Thanks for giving Weber a chance to join the great war apologists from the 1960s.

    And special thanks to Roy Grow for pointing out the Hegelian myth that the 21st century seems intent on destroying.

    Also thanks for Neal Rovick for his insight into the moral illusions that got us into another set of disasters.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 03/15/2013 - 11:28 am.

    Livine gets it

    This is probably the shortest and simplest way of concluding that Bush et al weren’t really worried about WMDs… they actually attacked. Compare this with N. Korea. If the US really thought they could suffer any kind of serious retaliation on American soil, or massive US casualties they would never have attacked in the first place.Nor would any other country have joined the attack. There were countries with contingents that were so small they could have been completely wiped out in a WMD attack.

    If you go back and look at the discussions between the Brits and the Americans this was clearly a case of finding an excuse they could sell rather than a threat they took seriously.

    Again, this is what make the war a war crime. Even if Iraq had WMDs, none of the countries that invaded were in any danger, this wasn’t even preemtive. The fact that they had no WMDs, and that it was known they had no WMDs, is just another nail in the coffin.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 03/15/2013 - 04:54 pm.

      But Wait!

      You simply don’t understand. According to Mr. Weber, Sadam might have possibly gotten some weapons sometime in the distant future and possibly, maybe, could have used them on someone. Based on that justification, he had to be stopped!

      Of course all the while the Bush administration conveniently ignored countries that already had WMDs, like North Korea.

      Face the facts: Bush was played for a fool by Cheney and the entire nation–not to mention Iraq and its people–suffered because of it. The amazing thing is that anyone at all votes Republican these days.

  9. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 03/15/2013 - 12:00 pm.

    A flow sheet of faces, not numbers…

    Before and ‘aft’:

    “Cost benefit analysis working out in favor…”, and aft,”My bottom line is that I haven’t…”

    Well hit me with spread sheet, whatever but we are talking death and the human face; war in its substance, hey; not business, good or bad?

    Here’s another picture:

    Early in the intervention/war/ exploited collateral considerations; following the bombings and the photos accompanying, I noticed a young girl among the war pictures. Maybe it was Getty pic. She was about 12; long brown braids…hands jammed in pockets of her navy blue jacket, the letters UGI embroidered on the front. She walks with a determined expression on her face; head down to avoid the worst spots on the recently bombed street; smoke still rising in the heart of Baghdad.

    Pink school bag on her shoulders she appears to be almost skipping over the worst of the blood and oil pot holes as she passes the blackened shell of a burned-out car smoldering. And the bottoms of her jeans are flapping around her ankles. At closer inspection I notice the Snoopy dog image on her white anklets.

    I kept her image as my screen saver, wall paper. Now she sits framed as a reminder beside my desk and always the question….where is she now? Do I want to know the answer…is she still alive? From the expression on her face she is/was a survivor.

    This morning I look out my library window. Two young neighbor boys are stamping on the ice that covers the the water on the corner; a giant pothole that overflows from last night’s half slush, half rain. The two waiting for the school bus. I do wonder what their future holds say ten years from now…war, education, opportunity a grand job for these young boys, or off to another war?

    Hopefully the girl in the frame exists somewhere, beyond the frame…at university or teaching somewhere, a young professional…I can only suppose

  10. Submitted by Phyllis Stenerson on 03/15/2013 - 12:01 pm.

    Grieving for what has been lost due to the Iraq debacle

    Thanks for the timely help. I am searching my info stash for articles I saved way back when I compulsively needed to know why the hell my country would wage preemptive war on another country. I intend to write a reflection which will be information and commentary with links to other people’s work on the internet. Few if any insightful remarks from mainstream media. Surprise! It’s a slow go as it’s just too much information and politics with profoundly moral implications to absorb and remain functional. A very disturbing, enlightening view is offered in “America the Traumatized: How 13 Events of the Decade Made Us the PTSD Nation” by Adele M. Stan, AlterNet, December 30, 2009, . It explains a lot about our dysfunctional, chaotic culture and politics today. People who are traumatized are so much more easily manipulated and unable to think critically. I can’t imagine how long it will take for the country to recover. The younger generation, and those to come, have every right to be very, very angry. I hope this 10th anniversary of the invasion prompts an outpouring of truth-telling and dialogue.

  11. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 03/15/2013 - 12:05 pm.

    Lesson learned?

    I have a recurring, terrifying thought regarding Iraq. If it happened once, it can happen again. There is no reason why the US could not find itself in yet another of these quagmires in the future. All it takes it a certain combination of incompetence and malice. I firmly believe that had Mitt Romney been elected, we would now be on a course to repeat the Iraq blunder in Iran.

  12. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/15/2013 - 06:06 pm.

    Before I Retired, I Always Used to Teach My Confirmation Classes

    Some basic lessons about the care and feeding of their own psyches. Those lessons included what they could expect of and how best to deal with grief.

    I felt this was necessary since they were just entering the years when moving in and out of relationships and going through the massive changes that come at then end of their teenaged years meant they would go through more grief in a few months and years than they were ever likely to experience again in their lives.

    In watching my fellow Americans, especially the press corp in Washington and New York, and our politicians in Washington after September 11th, I saw nearly universally the reactions of people who don’t even recognize they’re going through grief,…

    which of course they were – the loss which invoked their grief being twofold:

    first the loss of human lives on that day,…

    but much moreso, the loss of the idea that they were safe in their own homes, offices and neighborhoods.

    In it’s nastiest form, the form that led us into Iraq, this grief devolved into a combination of fear and terror so evidenced in the chickenhawks that led the Bush administration,…

    combined in a toxic mixture with the anger that grief so often invokes (which can be directed in vastly inappropriate directions),…

    and the “bargaining” of grief which often leaves us feeling that if we just DO SOMETHING we can avoid feeling the pain and discomfort of our grief,…

    all of which combined (as it far too often does) to form the idea in the hearts and souls of those cowardly chickenhawks that they could re-establish their illusion of safety and scare the rest of the world into never attacking us again,…

    by taking revenge on someone (anyone) else.

    At the time these plans were laid, the people making them were completely incapable of evaluating them in any kind of rational way (as were many among the American people).

    It was ALL a dysfunctional response on the part of people who didn’t know how to deal with their grief, or even that they WERE grieving.

    I can’t help but wonder if the day will ever come when we learn, and teach our children the care and feeding of their own psyches and spirits as well as their bodies, so that we stop bringing tragedy on our own heads by our dysfunctional reactions to grief and, when tragedy DOES strike, we deal with it in sensible, measured ways that bring useful results,…

    instead of just making things worse as we have clearly done in Iraq.

    • Submitted by Phyllis Stenerson on 03/17/2013 - 11:46 am.

      care and feeding of psyches – grief

      So glad you brought this dimension into the public dialogue about the tragedy of 9/11 and Iraq. I’d like to hear more perspectives around these ideas. Some years ago a Unitarian Universalist minister preached a sermon on “imagine if….the USA had “forgiven” the terrorists instead of invading Iraq (which we learned was false justification). I can’t remember many details but the premise stuck with me. Imagine…what if…the South African reconciliation process may be relevant.

      Here’s a recent voice:

      “We Must Unleash Radical Thought”: Harry Belafonte’s Stirring Speech Accepting NAACP Spingarn Medal, Wednesday, 20 February 2013, posted on Democracy Now – …”Numerous strategies in the quest of our freedom have been played out at all levels of the social spectrum. What is missing I think from the equation in our struggle today is that we must unleash radical thought. … America has never been moved to perfect our desire for greater democracy without radical thinking and radical voices being at the helm of any such a quest.”

  13. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 03/15/2013 - 07:56 pm.

    Past as Prologue–the NeoCon Version

    Neoconservatism emerged in the 1970s, with former liberals/leftists who now found themselves at odds with what they regarded as the shift of liberalism in general and the Democratic Party in particular towards a dangerous “radicalism” and “anti-Americanism.” Leading ideologues or political beacons included Norman Podhoretz and his magazine Commentary, William Kristol and HIS magazine The Weekly Standard (and whose 2003 book The War over Iraq was a major argument for American intervention), and Washington (Democratic) Senator Henry Jackson, among others. What is especially intriguing in such foreign policy matters is how those neo-cons seemed to have a need for new targets of opportunity once their former main concern–the Soviet Union–had collapsed and “Red” China became sort-of capitalist. Many seem to have forgotten how, in the Reagan era, Neocon darling Jeanne Kirkpatrick defended support of “authoritarian” right-wing regimes in Latin America and elsewhere because they were theoretically pro-capitalist and supposedly capable of evolving toward democracy, while leftist “totalitarian” regimes could not change without active intervention. When “Communism” did collapse, the Neocons redefined the narrative so that the “moral clarity” of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II had turned the tide of totalitarianism, so it ought to work elsewhere. That attitude is exactly what Professor Grow describes and what some have called “Wilsonian Idealism” (after Woodrow Wilson’s deperate attempts to “make the world safe for democracy” through military strength and moral persuasion). Right now, that whole line of argument seems to be fraying. The intellectual underpinnings of the NeoCons are at odds with the traditional conversative picture of humanity as inherently imperfectable. And while “Radical Islam” has become the target of the day for some of these folks, the tensions between insuring national security and encouraging “nation-building” seem to allow the Obama administration’s relative caution and pragmatism about military intervention to prevail.

  14. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 03/16/2013 - 09:31 am.

    Too much lint in whose navel?

    If one contemplates the lint in Hegel’s navel ( the dead German fellow) too long and our administrative foreign policy and our underlying ‘attitudes’ toward other nations – Iraq, Iran, Syria; rogue states etc?…maybe it’s time to check out how others see us after looking ourselves in the mirror and finding ourselves ‘wanting’; with little change on the horizon?

    Check out (Russia Today) UNFORGETTING IRAQ. Then suck in or suck out the video debate for it is interesting indeed, to see what happens when a superpower; emperor, empire loses its ‘clothes’ …and how others see us?

    Our democratic savior complex and its questionable motivations; those interventions, bloody explorations so dominant in the Bush/Cheney administrations – and then too, plus South America with its They-can’t-do-it without-us domination…leads to a growing global view that few like us anymore? We must be doing something wrong,eh?

  15. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/16/2013 - 10:00 am.

    One might say

    that the Neocon movement (I always thought that the ‘con’ part was particularly apt) was LED by a few formal liberals looking for a new god. I’d question how many of their followers were disaffected liberals, as opposed to conservatives looking for new guides to follow (conservatism, authoritarianism, and all that).
    And that it’s one more demonstration that Neocons (as opposed to real conservatives) are fundamentally kapitalist rather than democratic.

  16. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 03/16/2013 - 11:10 am.


    “RT Cross Talk, Unforgettable Iraq, Pepe Escobar” ; some or all should get you a London Iraqi academic and an Israeli-Iranian make for strange bedfellows in a debate where we are not the heroic ones but worth listening maybe…

  17. Submitted by Phil Tichenor on 03/16/2013 - 11:36 am.


    On the idea that Americans in Iraq (or any other liberated Mideast nation) would be greeted by joyous locals with flowers:

    Recent Gallup Poll data from Pakistan indicate that fewer than 10 percent of that population approve of the U.S. role in that nation.

  18. Submitted by Paul Ojanen on 03/17/2013 - 10:12 pm.

    Reasons for war

    It was never about “democracy”, and never is. One needs a simple thought experiment: Would Iraq have been invaded if their major product was pickles or ice instead of 112 billion barrels of light crude? Or, like all the other successful democratic experiments we have supported, such as Haiti, El Salvador, Operation Condor, Nicaragua, our assistance to Rios-Montt, or the original 9/11 in Chile, I assume they were all done in the “spirit of democracy”. Perhaps our democratic support of Pol Pot, that defender of Cambodia from the evil Vietnamese invaders after he had slaughtered millions. Perhaps our support of such gracious democrats as the Saudi Princes, the Kuwaiti royal family, and of course Saddam himself, until he crossed the line and dared keep more of the oil profits than the Neocons deemed him privileged to share in. The very idea that someone like Mr. Weber is allowed to even speak in public without wearing a clown suit is an insult to any serious discussion, but it is what passes for the major themes in American political discourse. Ahistorical, factually disconnected drivel.

  19. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 03/18/2013 - 09:10 am.


    Is a classic example of a once reasonable person who has drank the Washington koolaid for far too many years.

  20. Submitted by Steve Rose on 03/22/2013 - 06:36 am.

    Under the Persian Rug

    What some other leaders (D) had to say back in the day seems to get swept under the rug by some.

    Lets not forget – The Senate approved the Iraq Resolution 77-23. The House voted in favor of the measure 296-133. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D), one of the bill’s authors said, “The issue is how to best protect America. And I believe this resolution does that.” “I believe it is important for America to speak with one voice,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D), “It is neither a Democratic resolution nor a Republican resolution. It is now a statement of American resolve and values.

  21. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 03/22/2013 - 09:42 am.

    After World War II, the Allies put the leaders of Nazi Germany

    and Imperial Japan on trial. One of the main charges was “waging aggressive war.”

    By that standard, the neocons, including the top figures in the Bush administration, are guilty of war crimes, or at the very least, providing the justification for war crimes. Abu Ghraib and other cruelties inflicted on Iraqi civilians certainly constitute war crimes.

    In a just world, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice, and the other architects of the Iraq War would have long ago been bundled onto a non-stop flight to The Hague for their war crimes trials. While they may have spoken of democracy for public consumption, a closer look reveals that there has never been anything democratic about their intentions.

    Until we realize that there are war criminals in our government, just as the Germans and Japanese were forced to recognize the sins of their leaders, we are in danger of repeating their cynical efforts to “fix” the Middle East (and Latin America and Asia and Africa). I only hope that we don’t have to suffer as German and Japanese civilians did before some sense is knocked into our collective heads.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 03/22/2013 - 02:37 pm.

      Godwin’s Law

      It only took us 25 comments to devolve into to comparisons to Nazis.

      As is pointed out in my comment above, the names Gephardt (D) and Daschle (D) will need to be added to the list of Nazis facing your trial.

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