The lies of war

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I was listening to Democracy Now this morning, and the introduction to a segment on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War started out with such an honest, accurate, straightforward statement that I didn't even think about it until later:

It was 10 years ago today that the U.S. invaded Iraq on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. The attack came despite worldwide protest and a lack of authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

Those are facts. That's about as clean and well-documented a lead as you can put on a news story. It took me a while to realize that a show I listen to because of it's outfront progressive politics was simply saying what should have been on the front page of the New York Times and every other "objective" news media outlet in the country.

Let's just parse those 40 words for a second.

Yes, it was 10 years ago. Yes, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Yes, Bush knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, making that claim by definition a "false pretext." Yes, there was well-documented worldwide protest. Yes, the U.N. Security Council refused to sanction the invasion.

That's not liberal bias. It's demonstrable historical fact.

Let's compare that to what the New York Times said:

Ten years ago this week, on March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.

Also true -- but inaccurate. Inaccurate because it's incomplete. And that matters, a lot.

I go to Paul Krugman, the NYT columnist who (unlike his bosses) was right about the war from the start. Here's his lead:

Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.

That's 100 percent accurate and a lot more complete than the "news stories." He continues:

There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.

And here's why it matters: We're doing the same thing again, in a different forum, with the discussion of budget deficits and the need for cuts in spending:

What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority. If you hear that “everyone” supports a policy, whether it’s a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether “everyone” has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion

Here's my lead for the next story on the "sequester:"

House Republicans and the Obama administration met again this week to discuss a problem that doesn't exist, offer solutions that won't work, and drive the nation further into poverty, inequality, and debt.

Accurate. Complete. Factual. I can't wait to see it on the front page of the Times.

 

 

Comments

(as it turned out - wasn't obvious a priori) that Saddam had got rid of his WMD's. (Everyone knows Saddam had them, because he used them. The issue was whether he still had them and, as you've forgotten, he refused to allow inspectors in to verify).

We stabilized the country, got rid of one of the most hated and violent dictators on the planet, secured Iraq's oil for the West, and effectively surrounded Iran and their threat to Israel and the West.

We've now got vital onshore military assets perfectly placed to interdict in Syria and Iran, we are in a better position to assist Israel with the threats to their existence, and we have given Iraq at least a shot at democracy althought they may well screw that up.

I call that a win and worth the venture. I'm comfortable with iraw now vis-a-vis Iraq then.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

Tell that to the tens of thousands of Americans dead or permanently disabled in the service of your ridiculous "strategic imperatives," you abominable piece of fascist filth. There damn well better be a hell.

Posted by Deli on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

Would you be hppier if you were speaking German now?

Posted by anon on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 6:00 am

Huh huh. Speaking German. Haven't heard that one before. Ass clown.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 7:15 am

or wrong for solely the reason that people get killed in the process.

In fact, death is an inescapable outcome from any war but that alone does not inform the determination about whether the war was worthwhile, as it clearly was in the case of Hitler or else, as noted, you'd be sprachening deutsch right now.

In the long run, the deaths can be justified in the context of the strategic goals that were achieved, and the future lives that were saved as a result.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 7:44 am
Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:01 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:37 am

simply in terms of helping sell the war to a gullible American public.

No the war wasn't fought against Al Quaida.

Al Quaida wasn't even *in* Iraq -- except to the slight extent U.S. "no fly zone" policy may have succeeded in intstalling them there.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:57 am

If AQ did not exist, the USG would had to have created AQ. Smirk.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 9:12 am

A lilli knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 10:30 am

Bush was like Hitler in that Bush waged unprovoked wars of aggression like Hitler did.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:48 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 10:32 am

Even in military terms, the invasion and occupation was not a win. In moral and other terms, it was a vile and reprehensible deed. Those who perpetrated it (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Congress, et all) should go to jail.

http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/ron-jacobs-raining-shock-and-awe-...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2013 @ 5:26 am

After all, we could have done the same thing as part of the Kuwait campaign and nobody would have winced. In fact, we should have done.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 21, 2013 @ 7:07 am

Few people remember how the first Iraq war ended. It ended when Hussein demonstrated he had missiles capable of reaching Israel, and that he had chemical weapons. He never put the two together, but the message was clear -you come any closer and I will.

So the ouster of Saddam Hussein had to wait. For ten years, the US made sure they purged his stocks of chemical weapons, even as they decimated the country's infrastructure with bombings and sanctions, a regime which caused the deaths of far more people than Hussein ever did. When questioned about it, Madeleine Albright didn't deny it. She just infamously and glibly said, "We think the price is worth it." They checked and double checked and triple checked, even as they put out statements contradicting their own inspectors that Hussein had eliminated everything.

Once Washington was sure the weapons defending the country from invasion were eliminated, it was safe to invade again, which the US did.

The US didn't invade in 2003 because Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs.
Nor is it accurate to say the US invaded in spite of knowing there were no more WMDs.
The truth is much worse -they invaded BECAUSE they knew there were no more WMDs.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

co-operate with the UN inspectors meaning that, even if he had gotten rid of his WMD's (as it turned out he had) there was quite simply no way of verifying that without going in.

Anyway, why do you care that some fascist two-but dictator who has killed millions got removed from power? Something you're not telling us?

The US gained key strategic and military resources as a result, which makes the ME safer now. It's a good result, and time to move on.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

"Saddam persistently refused to co-operate with the UN inspectors meaning that, even if he had gotten rid of his WMD's (as it turned out he had) there was quite simply no way of verifying that without going in."

Not true. Even though it's next to impossible to prove the negative, the inspections were so thorough that UN weapons inspectors did in fact verify that he had no WMDs.

"Anyway, why do you care that some fascist two-but dictator "

When all else fails, fall back on the "but Saddam was a bad guy" defense. There is no defense. This isn't about Saddam being a dictator. This is about international law. What the US did was a war of aggression, the violation of another nation's soveriegnty and the overthrow of its government, which it didn't have the right to do no matter how bad he was.

"who has killed millions got removed from power?"

What millions? The US has killed millions. Saddam didn't kill "millions." Over a million died just as a result of the Iraq war alone. The most that they ever pinned on Saddam was the murder of some 5000 people (which he did with the chemical weapons the US supplied him with). Compared to the slaughter inflicted on the world by the American empire, Saddam was small potatoes.

"The US gained key strategic and military resources as a result, which makes the ME safer now."

Rubbish. Nobody is safer today. Even if you're Rumsfeld or Cheney himself, you're not safer. Look around the world today, it's clear that your assertion is utter nonsense. Even the hawks don't believe the world is safer today.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

Saddam Hussein intended to start selling oil for Euros which would have destroyed the U.S.'s capacity for printing money established in 1974 by Nixon and his cronies.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/22/the-usa-attacked-iraq-because-sad...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&add...

The pseudo libertarian capitalists always claim to want us to "take our punishment now" rather than put it off for a later day, but they support the very policies which promote putting off judgement.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:33 am

that is what they have. The oil price may be primarily quoted in dolalrs but each country buys oil in it's own currency because that is what it has. the price is simply converted via a sinle FX computation.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:48 am

Hussein wanted to denominate Iraq's oil sales in Euros rather than dollars and to require payment in Euros for petroleum.

The US could not countenance any challenge to the petrodollar regime, and did what comes naturally, invaded and made things worse for Iraqis and Americans, but quite profitable for the perpetual war machine.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 10:18 am

socialist nations of the kind you no doubt approve of) and so it really doesn't matter what currency a commodity is notionally priced in. You simply exchange your currency for the base currency.

FX is the biggest and most liquid trading market on the planet, with trillions changing hands every day. Your point is ridiculous. Any coutnry is free to ask for payment in whatever currency it chooses anyway.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Yes, but there are consequences for currency blocs in converting one currency into another to purchase ongoing commodities like petroleum as the amount of foreign reserves that partially backs up the native currency has bearing on the market value of that currency relative to a fixed commodity like gold or a benchmark currency.

Just like the budget and debt characteristics of a nation-state that has monetary sovereignty has no relation to the budget of a family at a kitchen table, there is no comparison between Forex investing and when nation states exchange currency to purchase commodities.

That fact is at the heart of the Eurozone debt crisis. The Euro north generated Euro profits from sales inside the Eurozone, including to the Euro south. Instead of converting those Euros to another currency and changing the Euro's exchange value, the Euro north repackaged those Euro profits into loans to the Euro south. No currency conversion, no change to valuation.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

rates themselves are affected by the totality of all macro-economic factors and cannot be conveniently decomposed into different categories - it's simply supply and demand.

The US being able to borrow in it's own currency is orders of magnitude more important for the stability of the dollar than the historical accident of what base currency is used for commodity trading.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

The reason why China recycles its dollar profits into treasury bonds is because if China converted its dollars into Renminbi, then the value of the RMB would climb, make China's exports more expensive, and further exacerbate economic instability there. Keeping it all in the dollar cycle has its benefits above and beyond FX trades. Removing it from the dollar cycle has its own consequences as well.

FX trading and current accounts reconciliation in currencies are very different matters.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

The Euro is a mess. The Yen is being managed down. The pound is too volatile. And there aren't enough Swissie's.

It's the dollar or nothing and so, not surprisingly, it's the dollar. Lucky for us, huh?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

This has been going on for 30 years, the investment in US Treasuries mirrors the USD profit that China realizes. The Reninmbi remains valued low for this reason.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

their exports remain competitive. The US whines about it sometimes but needs their dollars to buy our T-bonds, otherwise we'd have to cut public spending or raise taxes.

We buy their crap and in return they bail out our bankrupt government. Perfect.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

So you admit that I am right, that it is not simply a FX trade, that there are actual nation-state accounts that are settled (or not) via repatriation and conversion.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

Government polices are one such factor. Although bear in mind that hedge funds can make huge amounts of money by betting against government currency policies and manipulations that are not sustainable.

The markets trump everything and everyone. That's why I love the market over talk. The market always rewards you if you are right.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

The fact remains that it is tremendously important in what currency energy is transacted.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

and certainly doesn't explain the Iraq war. That's ridicuous.

Making Iraq's energy more secure, maybe.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

The reserve status of the USD is about all the US has going for it these days. Once the music stops for a moment and it turns out that we have fewer chairs than anyone else the roar of the rush from the USD will be deafening. Of course, the USG is not using the Fed to create instability anywhere else in order to keep the USD as the island of relative stability. And the USG would never pick a war to ensure that the primacy of the USD is not challenged.

There were many reasons why the Iraq war went down, threats of denominating petroleum in € was one of them, Hussein using the WMD the USG sold him against Iraqis was not.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

Adam Smith's vaunted "invisible hand" -- it is evident -- now, suddenly, has no effect on the *commodity!* of U.S. Dollars being traded on the glibly known "FX market."

A wonderous thing, repuglican rhetoric: it can me anything to anybody at any time as long as *zero* intellectual integrity.

Posted by lillipublican on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

What was his view on the yen/sterling cross trade? What's his target range for cable? Is the swissie a short against the loonie?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

Democracy Now, Saul Alinsky, Noam Chomsky or Paul Krugman. Or at least 50% of those. It's especially gratifying that Tim begins this essay with "So I was listening to Democracy Now and..."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

listen to those whom they know ahead of time that they will agree with, thereby setting up a comfort zone wherein no challenge or need for critical thinking will ever trouble them.

Objectivity has no place here; only partisan bias and prejudice.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

And still you talk.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

You forgot to add: "about nothing."

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 5:22 pm
Posted by anon on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

I don't come here to refute you, I come here to swat at you like annoying flies.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

Instead, you merely obfuscate, revealing your impotence.

Posted by anon on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

You are not worth the keystrokes.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

Can't help yourself, can you?

Posted by anon on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 6:04 am

You rarely get more bytes than can fit into a tweet, not worth the keystrokes.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 7:32 am

thereby reducing yourself to the same dismal level.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Ain't no response like no response!

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 7:56 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:36 am

That's true, you're absolutely right.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 8:45 am

It is emblematic of those on the right that they only read or listen to those whom they know ahead of time that they will agree with, thereby setting up a comfort zone wherein no challenge or need for critical thinking will ever trouble them.

Objectivity has no place here; only partisan bias and prejudice.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 19, 2013 @ 5:26 pm