In the face of such mass hostility, in a suffocating political climate where honourable dissent was neither welcome nor considered patriotic, it took a brave, principled human being, particularly one in a position of prominence, to publicly challenge the increasingly arrogant status quo.
When the George W. Bush Administration commenced its global sales pitch to invade Iraq in 2002, misplaced fear & overly rosy projections for its success helped make it happen. If only they had heeded the prescient warnings of these 9 wrongly maligned individuals, America would not be in the horrific, never ending mess it finds itself in today:
1. Eric Margolis
Mocked by his fellow columnists, Peter Worthington & Bob McDonald, in the opinion pages of The Toronto Sun for not climbing aboard the warmongering wagon – they falsely claimed he was “pro-Saddam” – this New York-based foreign affairs journalist wrote a foolishly ignored editorial for the debut October 2002 edition of The American Conservative.
Some key passages:
“The Bush administration is clearly obsessed with Iraq, but it has no clear plan on what to do with this Mideast version of ex-Yugoslavia once America’s military might overthrows Saddam Hussein’s regime. Nor is there understanding of how invasion and occupation will affect the Fertile Crescent, America’s client Arab regimes, Turkey, indeed, the entire Mideast.”
“Much of the Bush administration’s current view of the region has been fashioned by neoconservatives…Few of these armchair warriors have even been to Iraq; less have ever served in U.S. armed forces, yet all are eager to send American soldiers to fight a potentially bloody war whose benefits to the United States are doubtful.”
“The United States was a close ally, financial backer, and provider of arms and intelligence to Saddam in the 1980s. He is certainly not eager to face an American invasion that would bring his own demise, and would therefore welcome a diplomatic escape from the dire fate he faces.”
“…there are a host of arguments to be made why such aggression would be inimical to America’s interests. First and foremost, the substantial loss of American lives…in what inevitably would be a conflict fought out in urban areas where U.S. firepower and technology would be attenuated.”
“Though U.S. forces could quickly defeat Iraq’s regular army in the field, there is a high risk of prolonged urban guerilla warfare and great numbers of civilian casualties.”
“Waves of anti-Americanism would intensify across the Muslim world, jeopardizing American diplomats, businessmen, and tourists. The costs of an invasion of Iraq using at least 100,000 troops would begin at $75 billion and soar from there. Reserves will have to be mobilized.”
“When Saddam falls, Iraq will almost certainly splinter…The only leader who could hold the nation together was the iron-fisted Saddam.”
“The cost of permanently garrisoning Iraq will strain America’s already overstretched armed forces and make them less effective in responding to a genuine threat elsewhere…”
“…in the long run, the cost of protecting oil installations and a puppet regime in Baghdad will exceed profits gained from pumping stolen oil. Bush is wrong if he thinks Iraq can be turned into another docile American protectorate, like Kuwait or Bahrain.
The Muslim world increasingly views George Bush’s America as set on a crusade against Muslims everywhere, a view reinforced by U.S. attacks on Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, and Afghanistan over past two decades.
There is simply no political benefit for the United States in invading Iraq.
On the contrary, such an act of brazen aggression would summon up a host of unforeseen dangers and unimagined consequences that could destabilize the Mideast and Turkey, create a world economic crisis, and, perhaps, cause the aggressive Bush Administration to commit an act of imperial overreach that permanently injures America’s geopolitical interests and, let us not forget, its moral integrity.”
By the way, Margolis was fired by The Sun in 2010. McDonald died in 2006 while Worthington passed away last year.
2. Senator Ted Kennedy
In September 2002, the longtime Democratic Senator from Massachusetts delivered an important speech at a Washington, D.C. educational institution. While urging the removal of politics on both sides when discussing Iraq, he made it plain where he stood:
“I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted.”
“It is possible to love America while concluding that is not now wise to go to war. The standard that should guide us is especially clear when lives are on the line: We must ask what is right for country and not party.”
“…the Administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, pre-emptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary.
Nor has the Administration laid out the cost in blood and treasure of this operation.
With all the talk of war, the Administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq.”
“A largely unilateral American war that is widely perceived in the Muslim world as untimely or unjust could worsen not lessen the threat of terrorism. War with Iraq before a genuine attempt at inspection and disarmament, or without genuine international support — could swell the ranks of Al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts.”
“I have heard no persuasive evidence that Saddam is on the threshold of acquiring the nuclear weapons he has sought for more than 20 years.
And the Administration has offered no persuasive evidence that Saddam would transfer chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization…a case has not been made to connect Al Qaeda and Iraq.
To the contrary, there is no clear and convincing pattern of Iraqi relations with either Al Qaeda or the Taliban.”
“If we embark upon a premature or unilateral military campaign against Iraq, or a campaign only with Britain, our forces will have to serve in even greater numbers, for longer periods, and with graver risks. Our force strength will be stretched even thinner.”
According to this Huffington Post remembrance of the Senator, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2009, there was barely any mention of this speech in the American mainstream media at the time of its delivery. Truly disgraceful.
3. Then-Senator Barack Obama
As President, he hasn’t exactly been a dove when it comes to American foreign policy, including Iraq itself. In fact, his position wasn’t much different as a State Senator in Illinois. During a famous speech on October 2, 2002, he claimed, “I don’t oppose all wars.” Except one:
“What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”
“That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”
“…I…know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors…that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained…I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East…”
“We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly.”
I miss Senator Obama.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014