Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why We Did It

These are two of my favorite people, so how could I not post this video clip? More importantly, how could I not advertise Rachel Maddow's new documentary, Why We Did It (which airs tonight on MSNBC)?

The Iraq War was a horrific mistake - wasteful of lives and money, both. Remember how we were going to be greeted as liberators? Remember how the war was going to "pay for itself"? Like everything else the Bush administration promised us, these things were lies.

And so was the rationale for starting the war. Iraq was no threat to us and never had been a threat. Iraq didn't attack us. In fact, Saddam Hussein was the enemy of the people who did attack us on 9/11. He also had no weapons of mass destruction.

Furthermore, we were already in a war in Afghanistan - a war we might have won, and then gotten out, if we hadn't directed our attention and our efforts towards a foolish war in Iraq, giving the Taliban time to regroup.

Yet the George W. Bush administration had been looking for an excuse to invade Iraq since they day they took office. 9/11 didn't give them that excuse, because Iraq had nothing to do with that. But 9/11 gave them the opportunity to lie to the American people, because the news media wasn't willing to question anything after that. 9/11 gave them the over-the-top 'patriotism' which translated into letting the president do whatever he wanted.

The Bush administration didn't even raise taxes to pay for these wars. (Of course, Iraq was going to "pay for itself," right?) For the first time in our history, we were going to wage war entirely on borrowed money. They didn't even bother to budget the costs of these wars. Hey, free war! How could we resist?

Of course, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld - nearly the entire Bush administration and the neocons cheering them on - had avoided war like the plague when they had the opportunity to fight, themselves. (Heck, Ted Nugent deliberately crapped his pants in order to fail the physical in the Vietnam era.) But this was going to be a free war in another way, too. There was no draft, so no danger of a protest movement. And these guys weren't going to be in the field, anyway, so they wouldn't be in any danger.

Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow make a good point in this interview - one I've wondered about, myself. All of those right-wingers who cheered for the invasion of Iraq, that's not the only thing they've been wrong about - demonstrably wrong.

No, we weren't greeted as liberators. No, the war didn't pay for itself. No, Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. No, invading Afghanistan was not the way to get Osama bin Laden. (Ten years later, Barack Obama showed us how it should have been done in the first place.) No, tax cuts for the rich did not "pay for themselves." No, the Bush tax cuts not only didn't eliminate the deficit, they shot the deficit through the roof. And no, bankers would not effectively "regulate themselves."

These right-wingers - politicians and pundits alike - have been demonstrably wrong about everything, if seems, for years and years. So why do the news media still act like they've got some particular expertise? Why do these pundits still have a job? Why are they still in demand? Why does anyone ask Dick Cheney about anything? (At least Bush stays secluded, as he should.)

I don't get it. For right-wingers, there doesn't seem to be any downside for being wrong, even disastrously wrong. I mean, everyone is wrong on occasion, but these people were wrong about... everything, pretty much. Over and over again, they were wrong - horribly wrong, catastrophically wrong. At some point, shouldn't that have consequences?


Chimeradave said...

These two are so comfortable with each other it seems more like two friends chatting then an interview. :)

Anonymous said...

I agreed with most, and partially everything you had to say. Some good info, just adequately difficult to articulate. However, the part that I most defiantly disagree with and consider an oxymoron is where you stated "Barack Obama showed us how it should have been done in the first place". Okay.... there should not have been a war in the "first place". Also, Bush was a terrible president, and the things he did hurt the people bad, And today we put all the credit of the bad things on Bush (Which he deserves, it is his fault) Though... Obama has did nothing but continue the things Bush did. He hasn't made thinigs worse, but continues what those "Right-Wingers" started that fucked as all up.

WCG said...

Anonymous, by "how it should have been done in the first place," I specifically meant going after Osama bin Laden after 9/11 using a small SEAL team, rather than invading Afghanistan.

But even in that respect, we probably could have - and should have - done things differently. We could have considered 9/11 to be a crime, rather than an act of war, and we could have worked with international police forces worldwide to bring the criminals to justice. We had a lot of support in the world after 9/11.

We didn't do any of that, and to a great extent, Barack Obama is constrained by what we did do. We did make 9/11 an act of war, we did use it as an excuse to invade two Muslim nations (one of which had absolutely nothing to do with it), we did decide that we were at "war" with a handful of religious nuts and anyone else who objected to our actions.

We had a lot better options before we invaded Afghanistan than afterwards. Afterwards, as far as I could tell, we had no good options at all.

Even a new president has to accept the reality of the situation, especially given the fact that he took office not just with two ongoing wars, but also in the depths of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression (and that he had to try and work with Republicans in order to do anything at all).

Even at the time, I could see no good options. In many ways, Obama has continued the policies of George W. Bush, true. And in some of those ways, I think that was wrong. But in others, I don't have a clue what he should have done - not a clue.

We're between a rock and a hard place. It was easy enough to get there, but it's not going to be so easy getting out again. I can criticize specific actions, but I can't fault Barack Obama for trying to muddle through it when I don't have a clue myself how to extract America from that situation.

Thanks for the comment. Perhaps you have more specific ideas about what, exactly, we should do now?