Ten years ago this year, the nation was, for the most part, raring to go to war with Iraq, thanks to the Cheney-Bush Administration’s cooking the evidence that Iraq had somehow or other amassed a store of “weapons of mass destruction.” Frightening scenarios were sketched by administration officials of what was certainly going to happen if we didn’t invade Iraq. The scenarios, however, were so obviously screwy and manufactured out of whole cloth that it was difficult for those of us who had not been infected with the psychosis of fear after a bunch of primitive terrorists flew jetliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to believe them.
Back in those days before we, as a nation, managed to destroy our own economy, kill untold tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, remove the main geopolitical counterweight to Iran, kill thousands of our own young men and women and maim tens of thousands more, and start the nation down its current road of evaporating civil liberties, I wrote a brief editorial in the Ledger-Sentinel that marveled that the nation had apparently lost its collective mind. Fear will do that to people, especially when those at the top of government stoke those fears instead of fighting against them. Instead of FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” we got George W. Bush’s panic-stricken flight around the country on 9/11 in Air Force One and his constant efforts to, in his own words, “catapult the propaganda” to keep the nation wallowing in fear of a two-bit Mideast dictator.
As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the worst foreign policy disaster in modern U.S. history, I thought I’d reprint that edit, just for old time’s sake:
Just what’s with our foreign policy?
After watching the news unfold during the past several weeks, we have to wonder whether officials in Washington minding the nation’s foreign policy have lost their collective minds.
The Bush Administration, having settled on a foreign policy consisting of bullying Third World nations, apparently tried to bully one too many, and found itself being bullied right back. North Korea, not the most stable of nations, is now threatening some sort of holocaust—although this week they are denying they admitted last October having an operational nuclear program.
Meanwhile, the build-up of thousands of U.S. forces against Saddam Hussein continues to accelerate although there is as yet no evidence Iraq has any nuclear weapons, ostensibly the reason we’re getting ready to invade in the first place. The administration suggests the failure of United Nations weapons inspectors to find evidence of nuclear weapons is proof they exist but are apparently too well hidden to be found. In the meantime, we wonder what happened to Osama bin laden.
All of this makes about as much sense as “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Disney World. When, do you suppose, we can expect the adults to take charge?
Those U.N. arms inspectors kept looking right up until they were told to leave Iraq by the U.S. so they wouldn’t be vaporized during our “shock and awe” campaign, and they never found anything because, of course, there was never anything to find. As subsequent investigation teams confirmed. And Osama bin Laden remained at large and in charge until a Democratic President gave the orders to prioritize tracking him down and kill him.
We’re supposed to study history to learn what not to do in the future. “Lessons learned” the military calls it. But during the past 10 years, we seem to have decisively turned our backs on history, and appear to revel in ignoring the lessons it tries to teach us. Lessons learned in Vietnam? Lessons learned in the Great Depression? These days, it’s forget lessons learned and wallow in fear of the most preposterous things that are promoted daily by right wing and plutocratic fear mongers who happily spend their time “catapulting the propaganda.”