Who Won the Iraq War? The American Conservative
In October, 2002 I wrote in the first issue of The American Conservative an analysis of the impending Iraq War entitled “The Road to Folly.”
I observed, “A war that fails to achieve clear political objectives is merely an exercise in violence and futility.” Having covered 14 conflicts as a war correspondent, I’ve seen a lot of violence and futility.
The White House launched a thunderous, utterly shameless propaganda campaign about phony threats to America and the world from President Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. And on cue, U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003.
In America, the “bodyguard of lies” that Churchill said accompanies every war swelled into an army of liars. The Bush administration’s neoconservatives played a leading role in engineering the Iraq conflict. Media acted as megaphones for the war party. Thanks to the drumbeat of lies and insinuations, over 80 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.
A few observers who dared critique George W. Bush’s rush to war, this writer included, were denounced as “un-American,” “traitors,” or Saddam apologists—rather rich in my case since in 1991 the fun-loving Iraqi secret police had threatened to hang me as an Israeli spy.
Invading Iraq would be a disaster for all concerned, I predicted, except for Israel, which would see a potential nuclear rival and the most technologically advanced Arab nation crushed by U.S. power. Iran would also cheer the ruin of the hated Saddam, who had invaded the Islamic Republic with the support of the U.S. and its Arab oil allies.
“Bush is wrong if he thinks Iraq can be turned into another docile American protectorate like Kuwait or Bahrain. He is committing an act of imperial overreach,” I wrote. I also insisted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
In the event, Iraq, a nation of only 24 million, was shattered by U.S. military power. The war laid waste to large parts of this formerly advanced nation, already ravaged by a 12-year U.S.-led economic embargo and daily bombing.
Absurdly, Iraq was even denied lead pencils for its schools lest they be somehow turned into weapons of mass destruction. During the 1990-91 Gulf War, the U.S. Air Force destroyed most of Iraq’s water purification plants and sewage systems. Iraq was denied imports of chlorine to purify its fouled water. The result, according to the UN, was true mass destruction: 500,000 children died from water-borne disease and lack of medicines.