What We Know About Iraq From the People Who Launched the War

Now that Scott McClellan – a member of the Bush inner circle dating back to Texas days – has come out of the closet, it becomes increasingly unimaginable how any of the true-believers can continue to truly believe. But they do.

One wonders what it would take to dissuade these folks from their faith-based politics and the belief that the war in Iraq was justified. Will they need Laura Bush to actually turn on her husband? What if George’s pastor came out and divulged that the president had broken down and confessed all, begging the lord’s forgiveness?

It’s unlikely even those would be sufficient. And anyhow, the White House would go into its standard defensive posture that it employs whenever this happens, describing the truth-teller as “sad”, lamenting his obvious psychological pathology without of course coming out and saying quite that, wondering aloud why he’s never spoken out before. Indeed, it’s a wonder that McClellan wasn’t better prepared for this completely scripted response to his revelations, especially as he had used it himself against Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

Anyhow, all the true believers watching Fox will continue to truly believe. As the mayhem of the Bush years dwindles into numbed, robotic destruction and the tragedy of once noble national aspirations not only ruined but now also forgotten, it becomes ever more painfully obvious why these folks cannot let go, no matter how compelling nor how broad the growing mountain of evidence.

They are simply frightened to death. Frightened of bad people, frightened of brown people, frightened of terrorist threats blown ridiculously out of proportion, frightened of existential meaningless, frightened of cosmic insignificance. And now, to that weighty pile, must be added this: They are so frightened of their own complicity in bringing death, disaster, destruction and ungodly sorrow to Iraq that they can now only resort to astonishing levels of self-delusion to maintain their sanity. At this point, I almost don’t blame them anymore. They were so lazy, so stupid, so callow, so mean-spirited, so prejudiced that they bought into a crime of epic (and epochal) proportions and can no longer imaginably bear taking responsibility for the damage they’ve produced. And yet, people continue to suffer and die. Every day spent still supporting the war out of fear or laziness or stupidity or any of the rest is another day’s additional responsibility, another oil tanker of blood poured on hands long ago soaked to the bone.

And that responsibility is grave indeed. We don’t know (because the White House doesn’t want us to know) how many Iraqis have perished for Mr. Bush’s Folly, but the best estimates are over one million. We know that almost five million have been turned into refugees. Combined, that is over one-fifth of this country’s population. We know that over 4,000 Americans have been sacrificed, with tens of thousands gravely wounded and uncounted more tens of thousands psychologically traumatized. We know that our country’s reputation has been shattered, and that we’ve spent our children’s future livelihoods to pay for it by borrowing from them, without even asking for the money. That is a very large load to bear, so now people are compounding their original sin with additional ones, because they are so frightened of what they’ve caused that they’d rather continue causing more of the same than confront their responsibility, even when a Scott McClellan comes along and sticks it in their face.

The truth is, though, we never needed McClellan’s revelations to begin with. Just a bit of simple logic, combined with even a small, half-filled pail of basic factual information would have rendered the war rationale absurd from the beginning, well before an invasion morphed into an occupation, which morphed then into a debacle. Saddam’s Iraq was no threat to anybody in 2003. I mean, how threatening can a guy be who has already lost control of two-thirds of his own airspace, while his citizens are dying of malnutrition by the hundreds of thousands from internationally-imposed sanctions? How scary can a country be, when it has neither attacked yours, nor threatened to? Whatever happened to the logic of deterrence, a mechanism that prevented an infinitely more powerful Soviet Union from attacking the US through forty years of cold war? Why was Saddam bad when he attacked his neighbors in Kuwait, but not when he did the same thing to Iran, with American support and encouragement? Why was he considered evil for using chemical weapons when we wanted to go to war against him, but not when he actually was doing it, during which time the very same people in the US government protected him from international rebuke? If we knew where the WMD were, why didn’t we just tell the inspectors where to look? Why was Iraq such a threat that the inspectors couldn’t be allowed to finish their work, which would have required only a month or two more time? If Saddam was already so threatening, wouldn’t invading his country be just the thing to trigger an attack by him, using his WMD? Weren’t we supposed to be fighting the people who did 9/11, not a country that had nothing whatever to do with that? Why was Iraq all of a sudden such an immediate and urgent threat in March of 2003, when it hadn’t been less than a year earlier? Why did nearly the whole rest of the world condemn this war of choice?

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