Friday, March 22, 2013

Iraq War Ten-Year Commemorative Edition





Back in the day, I was a feisty anti-Iraq war blogger cranking out two or three pieces per month on Smirking Chimp and at my own blog Halcyon Days, supported through the generous efforts of Roberto Bourgonjen at Hoppa.com.  

The shoddy factual and theoretical underpinnings of the Iraq War were clearly visible, in clear text and open source, to anyone who cared to look—and were promptly confirmed after the invasion.  

Anybody remember the story of Saddam’s mobile bioweapons labs that Colin Powell peddled to the UN?  Post-invasion the CIA tried to claim they had found two of them—but they were actually hydrogen gas generators (for weather/artillery balloons) sold to Iraq by Marconi UK in the 1980s…and the US Army had identical units in its own inventory. 

The fact that the US electorate deigned to give George W. Bush a second term in 2004 despite his dramatic failings contributed to your humble narrator’s corrosive overall cynicism.

Here are some of my greatest hits, mostly from the run-up to the invasion, and one afterword on “intelligence failures”.

U.S. Petro-Gangsters Muscle in On Saddam’s Turf

Fighting ExxonMobil’s War in Iraq

Posted July 21, 2002

The “War on Terrorism” is no longer about bringing the September 11 murderers to justice.  It’s not about terror either, since hotbeds of terrorist, anti-US sentiment such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt serve as our allies and clients and not our enemies.  It’s not about bringing
democracy and justice to the benighted despotisms of the Middle East and Central Asia, as George Bush’s clumsy dictatorial meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran has demonstrated.

To the pundits who share our unelected president’s taste for vainglory, our violent, unilateralist stomp across the world has the whiff of empire.  Op-ed pages now bristle with bald eagles symbolizing our right as the world’s only superpower to set our own rules and standards.

More erudite commentators try to qualify or mitigate our behavior as “hegemonism” since we prefer to dominate and manipulate our vassals, instead of subjecting them to direct imperial rule.

Indeed, America has yet to demonstrate the belly and ability for empire.  A national inclination toward xenophobia and isolationism does not predispose us to offer up our sons and daughters for a lifetime of service in foreign lands.  The legionnaires and proconsuls we do send abroad roost in their mini-America encampments and pour out their contempt for the inexplicable, deplorable, and ungrateful locals who surround them.

However, as the outlines of the military, diplomatic, and public relations war against Iraq emerge, the motive for Bush’s foreign policy is revealed as infinitely vulgar, meretricious, and beneath the national interest.  It is simply the money to be had from controlling and selling cheap oil.

Those who care about our country and its interests would be well advised to read the July 11, 2002 London Times article “West sees glittering prizes ahead in giant oilfields” by Michael Theodoulou and Roland Watson.  It is well worth quoting at length:

 Iraq has oil reserves of 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia, which has some 265 billion barrels…Iraq estimates that its eventual reserves could be as high as 220 billion barrels…Extraction costs in these giant onshore fields, where development has been held up by more than two decades of war and sanctions, would also be among the lowest in the world…it would take five years, at most, to develop the oilfields and Iraq’s prewar capacity of three million barrels a day could reach seven or eight million…

I remember reading that some Saudi oil emerged from the wellhead with sufficient pressure to pump itself onto the waiting tankers; direct production costs were measured in pennies and the only significant production costs were the investments in well-drilling and pipelines.  Let’s say for the sake of argument it costs $10/barrel to get the oil out, and oil is selling for about $30 per barrel.  Profits of $20/barrel x 5 million barrels a day in increased output equals $100 million in profits per day.  And $20/barrel  x 220 billion barrels of reserves: if you want to do the math, it’s profits (not revenues) of US$4 trillion.

Isn’t $4 trillion worth murdering, lying, and cheating for?  Isn’t it worth a few dozen wars that trample over the lives, health, wealth, and well-being of millions of people?  George Bush and the oil boys think it is.

And please don’t be fooled into thinking we have to go to war to “secure our oil supplies”. Saddam Hussein would like nothing better than to sell oil at the international market price until a glutted SUV sat in every garage in creation.  That oil is screaming to get out of Iraq and nothing will stop it.  Like Tolkien’s Ring of Power, the oil of Majnoon, West Qurna, and Nalu
Umar—names that should be carved on the tombstones of every victim of our 21st century petroleum crusade—has summoned up vast, powerful, and furious legions from every corner of the earth determined to descend upon Iraq and wrest the fatal treasure from the hands of that unlikely hobbit, Saddam Hussein.

We are not fighting for oil; we are fighting for the profits from Iraqi oil, and the power that comes with it.  We have already spent billions of dollars and thousands of Iraqi lives seeking to deny Saddam Hussein access to these profits, and now the Bush Administration petro-gangsters are ready to move in and seize these billions for themselves.

What we have here is simply a battle between two sets of gangsters: one weakened and isolated by two decades of war and sanctions but still clinging to its valuable turf, another greedy and emboldened and panting to initiate a gang war to seize it.

The lust for Iraq’s trillions have inspired a desperate push by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, and company to get the war going before Bush’s popularity ratings sink to the point that even the Democratic leadership will dare to question our imperial bobblehead’s reasoning and competence, and challenge the illogic of our stated reasons for invading Iraq.

There has been a frantic roadshow over the last few weeks to assemble the Iraq invasion coalition, culminating in America’s apparent suggestion that the Iraqi people yearn for a Jordanian prince to rule their shattered and benighted land as a monarchy.   The same wishful thinkers who expect liberated Iraqis to compose ecstatic paeans in their honor promise the invasion will release a tidal wave of democracy through the Middle East (but presumably avoiding the Kurdish areas of Iraq, which we have assured Turkey will remain firmly under the thumb of Baghdad), whose mysterious agency will also solve the knotty Israeli-Palestinian problem as a lagniappe.  This sweaty salesman’s effort to be all things to all people, including bleeding heart liberals, signifies nothing more or less than the oil crew’s willingness to say or promise anything as long as the invasion can be launched as soon as possible.

Some share of the Iraqi oil billions will perhaps be set aside to deal with the catastrophic regional, humanitarian, and geopolitical crises Bush's blundering dash for the oil fields will engender.  But if the current situation in Afghanistan is an accurate measure of our "CEO"'s powers of moral and intellectual concentration, the resulting mess will be left for time, neglect,
and the Europeans to sort out.

To quote again from Theodoulou and Watson’s article:

“After Kuwait’s liberation…America monopolised the postwar deals, but the need to win international support for an invasion is unlikely to see a repeat.   Russia, in particular, and France and China all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have high hopes of prising promises of contracts in a liberated Iraq from a United States that may need their political support."

We need go no further to see the mainspring of the Bush Administration’s “coalition building” diplomacy:  offering a place at the Iraq oil trough for those who support or acquiesce, backed up by the threat that America will go it alone and unilaterally hog all the glory and oil for itself.

Vile and ignoble, yes.  But the true question is, why should the United States carry water for ExxonMobil, Dutch Shell, and the other private oil companies that will pour into a conquered Iraq and harvest the profits from Saddam’s vast oil fields?  Let the oil companies fight their own damn war!  Why should we pay for it, thousands die for it, and the American people and
genuine American security and economic interests be placed at risk by a war policy which draws its sole strength from the fanatical greed that motivates its proponents, and is almost universally condemned for its shortsightedness and foolhardiness.

The war to seize Iraq’s oil profits will enrich a few, and despoil many.  Our troops may fight their video game war at safe remove from the Iraqi battlefield, but the front line for American casualties promises to be the streets of our cities and the airways above us.

Within the United States, the only payoff our petro-gangster administration can promise us from a successful Iraqi war—other than the Iran war already brewing on the op-ed pages—is billions of dollars poured into homeland defense and the continued erosion of our rights and liberties, not to defend us from the scruffy legions of Osama bin-Laden, but to attempt to shield us from the future anger of the many peoples and nations whose lives and aspirations we are prepared to trample in order to reach the bleak oilfields of Iraq.

America must ask itself, what price the war with Iraq?  Are the profits the oil companies will seize worth even a fraction of the lives and money the Bush administration is prepared to lavish on it on their behalf, in our name, and at our cost?  

Copyright 2002 Peter Lee
“Saddamaggedon”, War, and Peace

October 4, 2002

When the history of our oil adventure in Iraq is written, we may find out how close the United States came to disaster.

Not how close we came to "Saddamaggedon”—the oft-invoked but remote possibility of a catastrophic attack on our nation, its allies, and interests by Saddam Hussein using weapons of  mass destruction.

But how close Saddam Hussein came to getting the Iraqi sanctions lifted and frustrating America’s plans for the Middle East before George W. Bush and company moved heaven and earth to drop the hammer on him.

We hear a lot about inspectors.  But we hear very little now about the sanctions, those onerous sanctions that were supposed to be lifted after the inspectors gave Iraq a clean bill of health, the sanctions Iraq is continually and futilely bleating about whenever the subject of inspectors come
up.

The United States want the focus to remain on the inspectors, and as far away from sanctions as possible.

Because sanctions are at the heart of the Iraq war. 

The sanctions that, until this year, were the focus of humanitarian outrage as they contributed to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.

The sanctions Saddam Hussein had been working patiently to get lifted, so Iraq can regain its sovereignty and equal standing among the family of nations, and pump oil to its heart’s content.

The sanctions that France wants lifted so it can execute the contract with Iraq to develop the immense Majnoon oil fields.

The sanctions Russia wants lifted so Iraq can repay the billions Russia has advanced, and implement a pact for an additional $40 billion in petroleum and infrastructure projects.

The sanctions that probably would have been lifted by now, but for the strenuous efforts of the United States and George W. Bush to obliterate Iraq’s peaceful options in favor of war and occupation.

Pursuing the end of sanctions, Saddam has labored unceasingly over the last ten years to restore his regime to legitimacy and political and economic viability, even as it is crippled by U.N.-enforced limits on its oil exports, bisected by no-fly zones, bombed at will by U.S. and U.K. aircraft, home to a Kurdish insurgency under U.S. protection, and the target of a concerted
campaign of political subversion from abroad. 

Militarily, Saddam, disarmed, albeit grudgingly.   His army is a shadow of its former self, his air force doesn’t exist, and his weapons of mass destruction programs have been dismantled.

Domestically, Saddam has stabilized his regime by judicious relaxation of internal oppression and assiduous stroking of the southern Shi’ites. Washington Post journalists venturing into his evil empire were mystified by murmurings of respect for the mustachioed godfather who had stood up to the U.S. of A. for so long.  Nicholas Kristof came back from Basra reporting the dominant mood was resentment of the United States, not anger at Saddam.

Internationally, Saddam has painstaking cultivated his Middle Eastern neighbors instead of invading them.  He has used the oil carrot to attract the interest and support of the Western powers, most notably France and Russia.

In a remarkable feat of persistence, the Butcher of Baghdad has built enough bridges of understanding and self-interest to the Western world that the United States, the U.K., and Israel stand alone as the confrontational anti-Iraq states.

So who is the real Saddam Hussein?  A suicidal maniac who lusts after weapons of mass destruction so he can race to destroy the world before an Israeli nuke lands in his morning corn flakes?  Or a shrewd, rational dictator with superb survival skills who wants to get sanctions lifted so he can start making billions of dollars from his undeveloped oil reserves and lift the pall of misery and poverty that 20 years of war and sanctions have cast on his regime?

I think we know the answer. 

Even as the White House rhetoric escalates, the hard evidence of Saddam's psychotic lethality dwindles and the case for the war looks weaker and weaker.  If the war can't be justified, how long can sanctions be justified?

Maybe we had a hint at the beginning of the crisis, when Bush and Blair plaintively told us that containment wasn't working, and the problem had to be solved instead of managed.

Maybe there's a clue when James Lilley says we have to go to war with Iraq because Iraq is bribing our allies.

Maybe the real problem was that the international pro-sanctions consensus was about to crack, thanks to a combination of fatigue, greed, humanitarian concerns, and Saddam's stellar performance as the crafty, capable 21st century Middle Eastern satrap.

Why does Bush have to go to war with Iraq?  Because the only alternative is not Saddamaggedon--it is peace.

Peace, the eventual lifting of sanctions, all that oil slipping out of America's grasp and into the undeserving hands of the French and the Russians, the unraveling of George Bush's grand strategy to make the Middle East America's sandbox.  And eventually the collapse of the political fortunes and regime of a duplicitous, violent, dangerous thug.

Saddam Hussein?  Of course not.  George Bush!

Copyright 2002  Peter Lee


The Iraq War: Now or Never

October 8, 2002

At last it has come to this.  With every invade-Iraq justification from Sept. 11 to U.N. resolutions bankrupted, President Bush has finally fallen back on the pre-crime justification from “Minority Report”—seize, convict, and execute sentence on Saddam for what he might do, not for what he has done or what he can do now, simultaneously condemning thousands of unfortunate Iraqis to death for sharing the physical space in which our Pentagon precogs’ vision of Saddam’s future is acted out.

According to George W. Bush, it’s not worth one American life to wait and find out if Saddam acquires weapons of mass destruction.  But it is worth an immediate holocaust of thousands of Iraqi lives and billions of dollars to relieve Bush’s solitary, paranoid impatience.  Why?  What’s the hurry?

President Bush’s Saddamomonomania has finally caught the attention of the American people, who are asking, why is hounding Saddam Hussein to his grave seemingly the only priority of this president, to the exclusion of the economy, the environment, corporate ethics, international relations, not to mention the pursuit of our once and future Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin-Laden.

There are several answers to the Why Iraq now? question.

The first is tactical.  It’s now or never for Bush.  He will probably never be in a stronger position to push for such an extreme and reckless policy. 

As has occurred many times in his career, Bush is enjoying the benefits of his own failure.  Americans are still traumatized by Sept. 11. There has been no liberating catharsis, no capture of bin-Laden, no gratifying annihilation of al-Qaida forces, no ecstatic triumphs through the streets of Washington, no worldwide jubilee for the defeat of terrorism.

Instead, America lives with a persistent anxiety, a fear that cannot be banished by the intrusive attentions of homeland security and the mustering of tens of thousands of troops and mountains of materiel in the Middle East.  Our sense of global hostility and isolation is growing, not surprisingly encouraged and enabled by our feckless president, who wants us to find shelter only beneath the shadow of his mailed fist.

In a boon for Bush, Democratic politicians have jumped on the war bandwagon with the slogan, “Don’t just stand there, kill somebody!”  By their calculations, voting for the Iraq campaign is a purchase of political insurance in case of another catastrophic domestic terrorist attack.  If another Sept. 11 occurs, politicians who voted against war in favor of peace, engagement, and caution will be ostracized, uninvited bystanders voyeuring at the next national orgy of recrimination, demonization, and flailing retribution organized by the White House and the Pentagon.

The American people, not just the Jews, the liberals, and the Democrats are still picturesquely writhing on the cleft stick George W. Bush and Karl Rove have prepared for them: war or fear. When presented with the choice of another war promoted by America’s political leadership, or challenging that leadership and the fragile sense of security that time has scabbed over the raw wound of Sept. 11, many Americans are following their hopes—they hope George W. Bush knows what he is doing. 

But evidence indicates that the American people are rediscovering their moral compass, their common sense, and their right and responsibility to question their political leadership. There are hints that Americans are starting to question the absurd, trumped-up dossiers that accuse Saddam of every crime from leaving the toilet seat up to threatening the world with annihilation. 

Saddam is no better than he should be, a crafty Middle Eastern despot with superb survival skills.  If he deserves to be overthrown, so does virtually every ruler in the Middle East—including Sharon.  To Perle and Wolfowitz, that’s the justification for overthrowing everybody—except Sharon.  For the American public, it’s an argument for leaving well enough alone and letting the Middle East stew in its own juice.  It’s an argument Democrats with “war insurance” are ready to heed, repeat, and amplify.
This is not good news for a president seeking to stampede a terrified and demoralized population into a colossally stupid war.

If the run-up to the war eats up this winter’s campaigning season in Iraq and George W. Bush has to wait for cooler days next year to invade, the American people and the Democrats may make sure he never gets the chance.  War with Iraq:  now or never.

The second reason for single-mindedly pushing for the Iraq war now is strategic.  If Bush does not get his war, there is a serious danger that peace will break out in the Middle East.

Just as Sharon has been fighting to foreclose the peace option for Palestine, George W. Bush needs to foreclose the peace option for Iraq.

For Sharon, resurrection of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process he has been laboring so mightily to destroy for the last year means not only personal repudiation but the end of his vision of a militarily triumphant and secure Greater Israel.

For Bush, failure to destroy Saddam Hussein’s regime and replace it with a U.S.-endorsed alternative means that the road is open for a peaceful international solution to the Iraq crisis that leaves U.S. imperial interests out in the cold. 

In fact, there is an unholy alliance between Sharon and Bush on this issue.  Bush’s endorsement of Sharon’s position on the Palestinian problem not only destroyed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but also guaranteed visceral Arab hostility to American intervention in Iraq (the very outcome Colin Powell naively thought that Bush and Cheney would want to avoid). 

Instead of a peace process in Israel that might have led to an Arab-mediated re-admission of Iraq to the international community, Bush has been able to substitute a war process with the Arab states helplessly sidelined and dreading the political tidal wave of rampaging regime changers and triumphantly singing houris Perle and Wolfowitz have promised them.

Time is certainly not on Bush’s side in dealing with Iraq.  With the conspicuous exception of Israel and the United Kingdom, the world is either hostile or indifferent to the belligerent American stand against Saddam Hussein. Greed, fatigue, pragmatism, and genuine humanitarian concerns have been steadily whittling away at the international consensus in support of sanctions.  France, Russia, and the other states have been exploring ways to get around American intransigence and get back to business as usual with Iraq. 

To the shock of the Bush administration, an international solution to the manufactured Iraq crisis almost became reality, before the White House was able to sabotage it by engineering recall of the inspectors and laying the groundwork for a new deliberately confrontational and provocative round of U.N. resolutions.  Never again, Colin Powell! was probably Bush’s horrified response when it seemed possible that the Kofi Annan and the U.N. would slip the leash and solve the problem before he had a chance to invade.

But America’s problems are not limited to the U.N.  George W. Bush’s chest-thumping unilateralism and unhealthy passion for pre-emptive first strikes guarantee that the Russians, the Chinese, the French, and most of the other EEC countries view America as an aggressive, dangerous strategic competitor.  U.S. triumph in Iraq means that the multilateral vision of the Middle East and the world is shut down in favor of American domination of the region and its oil reserves.

If the greased pig of the Iraq war manages to wriggle from George’s grasp, the unwilling “allies” we have dragooned into our fight will be happy to search for a non-confrontational multilateral solution to the Iraq problem, one that guarantees that America will not enjoy a monopoly of crude oil or power in the region.

The third reason for the timing of the Iraq war is, of course, political.  The Iraq war promises George W. Bush a triumph in Baghdad, a sidelined and emasculated Democratic Party, and a second term.

If Bush doesn’t get his war, Iraq oil and Middle East empire slip from America’s grasp and into the undeserving hands of the Europeans and the Russians.  Bush’s Iraq adventure is chalked up as just another expensive, depressing failure, along with his mismanagement of the economy, his eager polarization of American society, his hamfisted and coercive initiatives in domestic security, and his pathetic hash of international relations.   What looked like leadership is revealed as unprincipled vindictiveness and ambition.  Churchillian resoluteness morphs into fanatical self-defeating obstinacy.  Without an Iraq war, the genuine electoral mandate that eluded Bush in 2000 is decisively denied him in 2004.  And a weak, despised politician follows his father into well-fed and richly-compensated obscurity on the Republican rubber chicken circuit.

Why war with Iraq?  Why now?  Because truth and time are the enemy of this war and of George W. Bush.

Copyright 2002 Peter Lee



Driving While Saddam

Posted November 12, 2002

After all the dramatic rhetoric, the campaign against Saddam Hussein has come down to the world’s most expensive traffic stop.

It’s not terror, weapons of mass destruction, civilization, oil, or empire anymore.

It’s “if you’ve got a busted tail light, you’re out of here”.

Look for the Iraqi dictator on a mid-2003 showing of COPS sprawled shirtless by some roadside while the international highway patrol in the person of George W. Bush cuffs him, shines a flashlight in his eyes, and shouts his U.N. rights in his face (“You have zero rights, mister.  Zero!”).

The U.N. resolution the White House hawks struggled so determinedly against is actually the best public relations tool against Saddam.

Saddam may not be guilty of complicity in the 9/11 attacks, promoting anti-U.S. terrorism, or building up a menacing arsenal of weapons of mass destruction to employ against the innocent world.

But he is guilty of being an unpleasant, sneaky, swarthy guy.  The kind of guy who hangs around weirding everybody out and thinks he’s too smart for the cops.  Somebody who’s always talking about “evidence”, “frame-ups”, how the cops “have it in for him”, and harps on “his rights”.

The kind of guy who represents “the other” and reminds us not everybody is cheering for us in our gated community on top of the hill, cooking that barbecue, and driving the kids and the family dog to soccer practice in the SUV.

The kind of guy we just want to disappear so we can get back to the business of just being us.

And the cops oblige us by putting him away for the crime of just being him.

No difficult, morally charged questions of guilt or innocence, motivation or circumstance. 

Just the cops doing their job, nailing some bad guy on the basis of some irrefutable technicality.

It was oddly familiar to see the tried and true drug-war rhetoric trotted out: zero tolerance.  To see Saddam Hussein blamed for the time and trouble he is causing the Western world by refusing to recognize when he’s not wanted in respectable society.  And to see the standard bearers of the civilization of “dead old white men” tell off the scary brown fella and tell him he’s got to watch his step. 

Or else.

World society recapitulates American society. 

In America we condemn the menacing “other” to an intrusive police presence we would not tolerate ourselves.

And we subject Iraq to the consequences of the kind of international inspection the United States would fail a million times over.

We’re happy that someone else does the dirty work of removing the disturbing “what ifs” from the equations of our anxious lives. 

So we can reassure ourselves that things that make us afraid, confused, or uncomfortable are incorrect, improper, illegitimate, and easily removed.

A war with Iraq doesn’t demand debate, determination, or courage anymore.

All we need to do is turn our backs.  As we do every day in America.

“Nothing to see here, folks.  Just move along.”



Copyright 2002 Peter Lee

Losing the Plot

February 3, 2004

Some of the progressive press, as well as the mainstream media, are getting distracted by the “WMD Intelligence Failure” red herring.

It’s always amusing to see the words “intelligence failure” and George W. Bush in the same sentence.  It’s also gratifying that most people recognize Bush’s support for an investigative commission as a transparent attempt to hijack the process and string it out until after the Nov. 2 elections.

The battle of perceptions is shaping up between the mainstream handwringing over “failed processes” i.e. CIA takes the fall vs. progressives’ “failed leadership” i.e. Condi and by extension Georgy Boy get a slap on the wrist for cherrypicking ambiguous, heavily caveated spook dope.

Wrong war.  Wrong strategy.

I’m talking about the progressives here, not GWB.

The issue is not whether the CIA gave the White House garbage intelligence, or whether the White House concocted its own garbage intelligence.

The quality of intelligence was irrelevant to the Bush administration’s rush to war.

The defining fact of our Iraq adventure is what I called “George W. Bush’s imperial impatience to begin his war.

He was desperate to go to war in March.  He couldn’t wait to build a consensus within the United Nations, he couldn’t wait to build a broad-based coalition…

…and he couldn’t wait for detailed intelligence from a dedicated, highly trained team of spies that had penetrated deep into the heart of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq…

…the UN inspectors.

That’s what makes the insider angst about our inadequate “humint” so ludicrous. 

We had spies up the yazoo in Iraq.  They operated openly without fear of exposure or detention.  They could walk into any (as yet unbombed and unlooted) building in Iraq and examine documents and physical evidence to their hearts’ content.  They could interrogate anybody they wanted.  They had helicopters.  They had satellite support.  They could order U-2 flights.

There was plenty of high-quality intelligence available.  And more of it could have been obtained—but at the cost of undermining the case for war, not strengthening it.

The only way that Bush could invade Iraq was to get the UN inspectors—and their embarrassing evidence and inconvenient conclusions—out of the way.

And now it’s time for the Bush administration to get rid of the UN inspectors one more time—from the collective memory of the press and the American people.

Which probably accounts for Bush’s jaw dropper “We went to war because Saddam wouldn’t let the inspectors in”, first trotted out in front of Kofi Annan, of all people, in July, and most recently on January 27 during a press conference with Poland’s President Knasniewski.

(For those of us whose memories need refreshing, Bush issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein on March 17, 2003 and Annan ordered UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors to leave Iraq; they departed on March 18; and the invasion officially began on March 19, 2003.  See the Arms Control Association Iraq Factsheet.)

Yes, Bush’s disregard for the facts is outrageous.  The idea that his grasp of reality might be so tenuous that he actually believes this is true is disturbing.

But the fact that the press let it sink virtually without a trace is terrifying (see Joe Conason Mr. Bush’s Fantasy Planet, Salon Jan. 27, 2004).

The WMD snafu is not a “intelligence failure”.  It is merely the afterbirth of a “conspiracy achievement”, a plot by which manipulated intelligence was used by a pro-war cabal to hijack the US government and military and invade a sovereign state for private motives and under false pretenses.

The fact that no WMDs were found is simply testimony to the skill, determination, and cynicism of the plotters, who were able to concoct a $200 billion war out of absolutely nothing.

We should not be distracted by the “intelligence failure” chaff the Bush administration is throwing out.

The true focus of any investigation into the Iraq debacle should be the decision-making processes within the White House that dragged us into war—including the decision to pre-empt the work of the UN inspectors…

…who have now been proven correct in every regard.

In other words, the intelligence was fine, authoritative, and readily available.  Ordinary Americans could access it simply by picking up a newspaper or clicking on the UN website.

What the CIA was doing simply doesn’t matter.  And “fixing” the CIA so that it can somehow report with absolute accuracy the capabilities and intentions of states that the president has already decided to destroy anyway will not provide an effective check on a criminally careless and reckless chief executive.

I don’t want to see George Tenet testifying on the Hill.

I want Hans Blix.

And I want a commission to investigate and report--before election day--whether Bush’s mis-statements to Congress in his March 19 Determination that established the legal basis for the invasion of Iraq amount to impeachable offensives. (see How to Impeach George Bush, June 15, 2003)

If the American people allow themselves to be satisfied with a misdirected investigation into CIA data crunching that yields little more than a Huttonized pro-establishment whitewash and some post-election personal embarrassment for George W. Bush, then the intelligence failure isn’t the CIA’s or George W. Bush’s…

It’s ours.

Copyright 2004 Peter Lee






2 comments:

Alice Reid said...

Terrific summation in chronological order. Well written and outspoken. Thanks.

Jerry Tan said...

Let's not forget the role of US media as the propaganda tool for the government. Judith Miller was just tip of the iceberg. Even today, the US media still hesitates to report what Iraqis REALLY think of America, and more importantly whether the whole war was worth it. Personally I am amazed that so many Neocons are still doing well today although their predictions have been proven wrong over and over again.