It’s been ten years since the invasion of Iraq; ten years since “They will welcome us as liberators,” “MISION ACCOMPLISHED” and “Major combat operations are now over.” The Rachel Maddow Show re-aired it’s documentary, “Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War”on March 23, 2013. Watching the documentary when it first aired prompted me to look into a few things, and I’d like to update to POSTS #3 and #7, IRAQ: THE ALLEGORY 1.0 and 2.0, respectively.
The documentary suggests that Pres. Bush 43 was preoccupied with Saddam and Iraq, and was already looking for a justification to invade Iraq when he came into office. My instinct was to attribute that inclination to Cheney,* who I always thought was the neo-con Rasputin behind that administration’s foreign policy, but it appears that Paul Wolfowitz was equally responsible. As far back as the 80’s, when he worked in the Reagan administration’s State Department as Director of Policy Planning, Wolfowitz denounced Saddam as a threat to the United States, even as the Reagan administration was offering aid to Saddam in his war with Iran. Wolfowitz was Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under Pres. Bush 41, and worked with Cheney, who was then Secretary of Defense. After the first Gulf War of 1991, Wolfowitz maintained that, by remaining in power, Saddam acquired an aura of irrepressibility that made him a continuing threat to the United States. Wolfowitz was a foreign policy advisor to the Bush 43 campaign during the 2000 election. It was in this capacity that his views on Saddam and Iraq shaped the views of the ultimately successful candidate. Wolfowitz served as Deputy Secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2005.
It does, therefore, appear that Pres Bush 43 came into office wanting to invade Iraq and topple Saddam, and that Wolfowitz and Cheney were largely accountable for this predisposition. The September 11th attacks didn’t provide an excuse to invade,** so much as create a climate in which the public was receptive to the administration’s claims of a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, and of Saddam’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. To say that these claims were based on faulty intelligence, or a misinterpretation of intelligence, is an overly generous euphemism. In each case, the intelligence relied upon to justify the invasion was considered suspect by the intelligence officials who acquired it, and was frequently passed on with disclaimers, or suggestions not to give it any credence. Nonetheless, administration officials repeatedly claimed to have irrefutable proof of Saddam’s ties with al Qaeda and his efforts to acquire and stockpile WMDs, when they knew they did not.*** The objective, non-euphemistic term for that kind of activity is fraud, pure and simple.
I keep coming back to this because the premise of shadow is that rulers in the Greek coalition started their war in Asia (Troy) for geopolitical and economic advantages, but created the fraudulent myth of Helen’s rescue to assuage the masses who would fight the war or give up their sons to it. POST #2. HIDDEN CLUES deals with this directly, though other posts address it as well. Fraudulent myth making in the Iraq War is easily observed because participants are alive and have written books, been interviewed, or made statements in documents and film footage that have been preserved. Just as Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” has a basic monomyth or paradigm (see POST 11. THE HERO’S JOURNEY), the myths of the two wars, 3,200 years apart, have a paradigm of their own:
A coalition of western nations invades an Asian nation under fraudulent pretenses. Hoping to conceal the real motives of the invasion (economic and geopolitical advantages that will accrue to the coalition’s elite), the western leaders propagate a myth that the invasion is motivated by honor and the virtuous desire to liberate. After an ostensible military victory, the occupation goes awry, and the economic and geopolitical advantages are lost. The fraudulent myth persists, however, because it resonates with something inside all of us.
Fraud is, after all, a way of getting us to fool ourselves. Bush 43 administration officials not only ignored, they discredited projections about the cost and difficulty of the occupation, because those projections contradicted their ideology. In this sense, they fooled themselves, though they didn’t defraud themselves. Legally, fraud requires the defrauded victim to have suffered a loss, and the officials who led us into this war haven’t suffered any loss. This leads me to a final point.
Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, recently issued a final report to Congress about the success and efficiency of the post-war reconstruction efforts. His conclusion was that the reconstruction effort was unsuccessful, and what little was accomplished was appallingly expensive. “Not enough was accomplished for the size of the funds expended,” he told the Associated Press. The reason for this dismal outcome was the failure of the initial occupation effort, which let everything spin out of control. Gobs of money were then spent just trying, and failing, to restore the pre-invasion equilibrium. This made actual reconstruction work prohibitively expensive and next to impossible.
On the invasion’s tenth anniversary, Bush 43, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Wolfowitz, and others have been telling interviewers that the decision to invade was correct. They insist that the then-available evidence established that Saddam was acquiring weapons of mass destruction and was associated with al Qaeda. They’re also attempting to change the narrative, claiming that the invasion was successful because it toppled Saddam and improved the lives of the Iraqi people. We now know that the credible evidence was weak to non-existent, that they knew this as they acquired it, but nonetheless told the American people that their proof was conclusive. We should also remember (and many of us do) that freeing the Iraqi people was not then posed as a reason to invade. Indeed, Bush 43 campaigned as someone who didn’t believe that the United States should squander its resources on “nation building.” The Special Inspector General’s Report clearly indicates that the Iraqi peoples’ lives have not improved; they merely suffer different afflictions. With Saddam gone, the internecine conflicts that he’d suppressed are now rampant. No longer in danger of Saddam’s persecutions, Iraqi’s are now endangered by suicide bombings, and tribal/sectarian mass killings. Their economy is still in shambles, as is their infrastructure. And, with Saddam no longer in power, the constraints he imposed on Iran’s ambitions have been lifted. Iran’s anti-Israel and anti-western positions have intensified, Hezbollah, it’s unofficial guerrilla force, has boldly infiltrated Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, and Iran’s nuclear programs are advancing at an alarming rate.
There are still people who persist in maintaining the fraudulent myth. They apparently have an audience, and it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll succeed in the long run. The fraudulent myth is far more appealing than the scenario supported by credible evidence.
As post #7. THE ARCHEOLOGICAL RECORD shows in detail, verification of shadow’s version of the ancient paradigm is unavailable, though it makes so much more sense than the classical myth, for reasons set out in POST #2, supra. I like to think that the force with which the modern myth is disproven by solid evidence, uncorrupted by time and fabrication, shows that the ancient myth is equally suspect and improbable. Our iconic myths and symbols are not what they seem; they never were.
* My first instinct was to attribute it to Oedipal dynamics, because his father, Pres. Bush 41, “failed” (declined is the more accurate term) to topple Saddam and occupy Iraq. Though I was never a fan of Pres. Bush 41, he had once been the head of the CIA, and apparently had a much better idea of the difficulties that occupation would entail.
** When directed to find a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, officials in the intelligence community found the idea bizarre. Al Qaida’s fundamentalist interpretation of Islam led them to see Saddam as a heretic; bin Laden probably wanted to overthrow Saddam as much as the neocons did.
***The “aluminum tubes” incident is most illustrative. Saddam had purchased a large quantity of aluminum tubes that were intercepted and seized before they could be delivered. The concern was that these tubes could be used to build centrifuges that would produce nuclear material. An american expert was called in to examine the tubes, but he easily determined that these tubes were not the kind that could be used for centrifuges. Nonetheless, Vice President Cheney made a televised statement that the administration knew, with “absolute certainty,” that Saddam had purchased the kind of aluminum tubes that he would have used to build centrifuges, had they not been intercepted.