STEVEN JONAS MD, MPH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
One must consider the currently running MSNBC documentary, “How the Bush administration sold the Iraq war” (1), based on a book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, to be a rather remarkable document, given that it comes to us from an element of the mainstream media (NBC), as relatively liberal as that element may be. Most (if not all) of the readers of this column-series and the journal(s) in which it appears know that the whole premise upon which the invasion was based was totally false. Neither were there Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” nor was there any connection between the Saddam Hussein regime and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. In approximately 50 minutes of air time, one can hardly expect that all of the details of the Grand Deception and Big Lie can be covered. It is very possible that many of those details that I retell below are to be found in the book. Nevertheless, here a few additional facts and observations.
First, the documentary very justifiably notes the later proved-to-be-false “Tonkin Gulf Incident” that President Lyndon Johnson used to vastly expand the War on Vietnam. That war actually found its origins yeas before in work done by the Dulles Brothers, John Foster (State) and Allen (CIA), to undermine the Geneva Accords of 1954 which had brought the French-Indochinese War to its conclusion. Nationwide elections were to have been held by 1956. “Everyone knew” that the Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, would win in an overwhelming landslide. The Dulles Brothers, very concerned about that happenstance, in collusion with the reactionary forces in Viet Nam, made sure that the elections were never held. We all know what happened subsequently.
What is not generally acknowledged is that, in terms of the US objective of making sure that there would not be a peaceful, electoral, victory for Communism in southeast Asia, with its implications for the rest of the region (yes, the Domino Theory was real and of real concern), the US did not lose the Viet Nam War. Rather, given what has happened and not happened to Viet Nam and the rest of Southeast Asia since then, in the context of the Dulles’ original goals, the US won it. In contrast, we do not yet know whether the US achieved the primary objective of the Cheney/Bush regime, which was the creation of a state of Permanent War (2).
As for Iraq, as to the supposed “weapons of mass destruction,” not mentioned in the program (and again, this important detail may very well be in the book) is the fact that during the whole run-up to the War the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, was on the ground, with a large team (3). Under considerable pressure from the UN and Mr. Blix, Hussein had given the latter access to just about any site that he wanted to inspect. He repeatedly found nothing and made that fact public on a repeated basis. With the CIA claiming that they had evidence of Iraqi WMD, Blix said that he would be happy to see it, and then go inspect. Until the time he and his team pulled out of Iraq in the face of the obvious US/UK invasion preparations for the March 20, 2003 attack, Blix never heard from the CIA.
Much has been made of the supposed “meeting in Prague” between representatives of Hussein and bin Laden and whether or not it actually occurred. At the time it supposedly did occur, war hawks like the former Nixon propagandist and later New York Times columnist William Safire were trumpeting it as evidence of collusion between Hussein and bin Laden/al-Qaeda, and so linking Hussein to 9/11. At the time, many on the Left spent time trying to prove that the meeting did not/could not have taken place. The documentary spent some time on the subject. My suspicion was at the time (and still is) that the meeting did take place, and that in it Hussein’s representative told bin Laden’s man that the last thing that he (Hussein) wanted to do was to give the US another reason for attacking Iraq. Furthermore, it was in any case well-known that Hussein (a secular Muslim) and bin Laden (highly religious) cordially hated each other.
As for the supposed “drive by the US and the UK” to get a UN Security Council resolution supporting an invasion, and the supposed UN resistance to doing so, in the end that resistance was mainly limited to the proposal by the French (right-wing) President Jacques Chirac to give Hans Blix more time. (As I recall the date proposed was April 30, 2003.) Then if WMD were discovered, an invasion, under UN sanction, would be authorized. Of course that was the rub for Cheney/Bush/Blair and their already planned invasion. The last thing they wanted was to have it be under UN auspices in any way. So, rather than trying hard to get a UN invasion resolution and failing, US/UK policy, which was already clear at the time, was to set their demands upon the UN so high that there would NOT be a forthcoming UN resolution at any time.
Finally, as to the whole question of Iraqi WMD, Blix faulted Cheney/Bush for a “lack of critical thinking” (3). Given the capabilities of the CIA and US military intelligence, it is very difficult to believe the Cheney/Bush did not know that there were no WMD. Furthermore, the “neocons” at Defense, etc., had been clamoring for such an invasion since the mid-90s. Recall that at the first briefing for the new Administration, Jan. 21, 2009, the then outgoing national security advisor Richard Clark had told Bush himself on that they should be very concerned with al-Qaeda, to which Bush constantly responded “Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.” The Bushites were just looking for an excuse to attack Iraq. And they made them up as they went along, from the “Niger yellowcake” story which they had to know was a falsehood based on an easily detectable forgery (plus the French had all of that ore fully under control and committed well in advance through five-year contracts, hardly a secret) to the “aluminum tubes” which, they had been told by a US scientist two years before, were for missile weaponry, not uranium centrifuges.
There were just too many later-to-be-proven falsehoods. Bush/Cheney and their whole team must have known what the truth was. They didn’t just “make a mistake” or lack in “critical thinking.” And that is the most monstrous conclusion that one is forced to draw from the whole horror, of the War on Iraq, which is still hardly over for the people of Iraq (4).
2. Jonas, S., “Dr. J's Commentary: The CheneyBush War Policy: Connecting the Dots for Permanent War,” BuzzFlash, Feb. 27, 2007.
3. “U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix faults Bush administration for lack of "critical thinking" in Iraq,”
4. Sweet, D., “The American War Isn’t Over for the Iraqi People,” The World Can’t Wait, http://debra.worldcantwait.net/2013/03/the-american-war-isnt-over-for-the-iraqi-people/
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-