Nine years ago today, George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq.
He and his team of advisors said there were weapons of mass destruction. They said the war would be quick. They said it would be cheap. They said it was important.
The war cost the United States about $1 Trillion. It cost nearly 5,000 American lives. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians died. Over 30,000 American soldiers were injured, with many more still fighting the mental ravages of war — ballooning the cost of the VA system, already stretched before the war.
America’s war in Iraq took three years longer than the Civil War and four months longer than World War II. We were there longer than we were in Vietnam, because apparently we don’t know how to learn from history.
Today, the 9th anniversary of this disastrous war, is the first anniversary not marked by continued war. Last December, that war was ended and troops were pulled out.
There is still that other war, and it, too, needs to end.
But let’s stop for one moment and consider history, such that we may learn from it… maybe.
The Republican primary season is increasingly chaotic. There is growing talk of a brokered convention, but many dismiss that as just talk. There are loud voices, strong ones, all lined up behind Mitt Romney and insisting that he will be the nominee. They say the delegate math is in his favor and it is only a matter of time. But that time might still get us to May 22nd, the Kentucky Primary.
If so, our Republicans friends will head to the polls with a vote in their hands.
Looking back over the Iraq war and looking forward at a Mitt Romney administration, it’s difficult for anyone to not support one without the other. If you accept the Iraq war was a success, that it was not a distrous and extremely costly mistake, then you will love a Mitt Romney presidency.
Mitt Romney has surrounded himself with some of the brightest minds of the Bush administration, some of the powerful architects of that failed and miserable war.
From the people who brought you the war in Iraq, they now offer you Mitt Romney — the pro-Obamacare, pro-Planned Parenthood, pro-Immigration faux-conservative who will do and say whatever he’s told — has set up a foreign policy team full of Iraq War masterminds and, well, they are the ones who will tell him what to do and what to say.
Which should be disconcerting to every American voter, regardless of party. Independent voters should run away. Moderate Republicans should run away. Fiscally conservative Republicans should run away.
Paula J. Dobriansky
Where to even begin.
Robert Kagan was the co-founder, with Bill Kristol of the Project for a New American Century, the think tank that spent years pushing for a return dalliance in Iraq. In October 2001, Kagan and Kristol praised President Bush for declaring his “War on Terror” was not just about finding Osama bin Laden, nor simply disrupting the al Qaeda terrorist organization. No, Kagan wrote:
Bush’s Thursday speech was significant because the president made clear that taking decisive action against Saddam does not require absolute proof linking Iraq to last week’s attack.
Kagan spent years advocating for the Iraq war, and he used September 11th to push the case still further… regardless of any link to the 9/11 attacks. With the war underway, Kagan continued his cheerleading. In early April of 2003 he called it Bush’s “brilliant military campaign.”
Giving Robert Kagan a job in foreign policy, asking him for advice on how the world works and how America should work in the world, shaping your campaign around his worldview is quite simply dangerous.
If Mitt Romney appointed Bernie Madoff to his economic advisory team, Americans would be appalled. Robert Kagan has the exact same record of success.
Cofer Black, Bush’s chief of counter-terrorism, is a former vice chairman of the reckless mercenary force Blackwater to which the Iraq war was outsourced under a series of no-bid contracts.
Michael Hayden, architect of the Bush administration’s domestic wiretapping program, was still trying in vain to tie Iraq to al Qaeda as late as 2008. That’s some solid advice for Mr. Romney.
Michael Chertoff, who famously announced on national television after Hurricane Katrina that the Superdome was secure as the split screen showed a very different view, came to Bush’s defense in 2007 as more and more Congressional Republicans called for an end to the Iraq war — claiming an al Qaeda attack would be imminent if Bush bowed to the GOP pressure.
Dan Senor was Bush’s spokesman on Iraq in both the lead-up to the war and the first year of the occupation.
Eric Edelman was a deputy to Dick Cheney, working under Lewis “Scooter” Libby — who outed a CIA agent after her diplomat husband pointed out the fallacies of the Bush administration’s War on Iraq narrative. In 2007, Edelman responded to a Congressional request for information on planning for withdrawal from Iraq by claiming the request boosted “enemy propaganda.”
Eliot Cohen was an advisor to Condoleezza Rice. In the lead up to the Iraq war he joined the “Committe for the Liberation of Iraq,” a group closely alligned with the Kagan’s Project for a New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute. In 2001, Cohen wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
After Afghanistan, what? Iraq is the big prize… One important element will be the use of the Iraqi National Congress to help foster the collapse of the regime, and to provide a replacement for it. The INC, which has received bad, and in some cases malicious treatment, from the State Department and intelligence community over the years, may not be able to do the job with U.S. air support alone.
He went on CNN and asserted that “we know” there are links between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein and he continued to cheerlead the war in the years after.
Robert Joseph, then a top aide to Condoleezza Rice, was instrumental in convincing the Bush team to use the fabricated evidence of Iraq’s purchase of uranium from Niger. The uranium claim was central to the case made by Bush and his administration to convince the American people that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea. That was Joseph’s work, and now he’s working for Mitt Romney.
The list goes on. There’s Grant Aldonas, special advisor to the Romney campaign and Bush’s undersecretary of commerce, who went around telling business leaders that war in Iraq “would open up this spigot on Iraqi oil, which certainly would have a profound effect in terms of the performance of the world economy for those countries that are manufacturers and oil consumers.”
There’s John Bolton, who has endorsed Romney in 2012. Bolton was Bush’s undersecretary for arms control from 2001 to 2005. He travelled the world trying to convince skeptical nations to join Bush’s farcical “coalition,” and in April of 2003 when asked if the lack of weapons of mass destruction proved that Iraq was not an imminent threat to United States, Bolton responded:
I just said that it did to the extent they had WMD programs that they could have shared with terrorists or used in and of themselves — that’s a risk.
Maybe you’re willing to wait until after the weapons have been used.
I was not willing to wait and neither were the people of the United States.
And Bolton’s views haven’t changed. In 2011, he went on FOX News and argued that we should not end the war in Iraq, supporting his position by pointing out “we’re still in Germany, we’re still in Japan.” Both of which are true but demonstrate a woeful — and dangerous — misunderstanding of the nature, purpose and lessons of the Iraq War (not to mention history in general and global realities in specific).
Last December, a month before Mitt Romney proudly announced his endorsement, Bolton wrote a long column in the Guardian arguing for a continued occupation, a continued war:
America’s complete withdrawal of its troops from Iraq is a tragic mistake. It jeopardises the gains made by President Bush’s (and Tony Blair’s) eminently correct 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and risks the broader Middle East falling into chaos.
That’s the kind of advice Mitt Romney is getting.
It’s clear that Romney is following his leaders, whether he’s being told to pretend to eat grits or he’s being told to now be against Planned Parenthood, or he’s being told to lie and say he never advocated for Obamacare, or he’s being told that the Iraq War was righteous and good and — worse — needs to be continued… Mitt Romney surrounds himself with dangerous characters who present a disatrous track record.
If you liked the Iraq War, if you thought that was a good way to expend 9 years, 5,000 American lives and one trillion dollars, then you’ll love Mitt Romney.
On the bright side, the war is over. Happy anniversary. That was an awful, awful mistake.
Now we just need to end that other war.
More from Reuters:
Romney’s chief political strategists, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, are veterans of both Bush-Cheney campaigns. Romney campaign adviser Kevin Madden was a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney effort in 2004, then was a spokesman for Bush’s Justice Department.
Romney’s economic advisers include Glenn Hubbard, architect of the Bush-era tax cuts as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and now dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. He’s joined by Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw, author of a popular economics textbook and Bush’s primary economic adviser from 2003 to 2005.
Romney has named 24 “special advisers” in national security and foreign policy, 16 of whom served in diplomatic or political roles under Bush. They include Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security chief, and Dan Senor, who was an administration spokesman in Iraq.
On judicial issues, Romney is advised by at least three top veterans of Bush’s Justice Department.
Romney’s education advisers include Margaret Spellings, who was secretary of education under Bush and a chief advocate for No Child Left Behind.