Keanu Reeves Mirror GIF

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Among the many retrospectives, the New York Times, which did so much to boost the war with its reporting straight from inside Dick Cheney's butt, asked the important question, "20 Years On, a Question Lingers About Iraq: Why Did the US Invade?"

That's some lingering question, all right! The piece, by foreign correspondent Max Fisher, wonders not about the long-term effects of the war, or why the US occupation went so badly (it's a column, after all, not a shelf of books), but gets right down to the question of what motivated George W. Bush and his merry band of neocons to go to war in Iraq in the first place. Was it really about the 9/11 attacks? Certainly Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy Defense secretary, wanted Saddam Hussein to have been involved, as did others in the administration, including Dubya himself. But there wasn't any evidence, because Saddam wasn't involved and al Qaeda actually kind of hated him because he was a secularist anyway.

But hey, how about oil? Gulf War 1 was all about keeping Kuwait's oil safe for democracy, but nah, to the eternal frustration of Donald Trump, we didn't take the oil that clearly belonged to us.

Fisher also examines the idea that neoconservatives, wanting to reestablish US dominance after the Cold War, thought Iraq would make a dandy proving ground for the neoconservatives who filled nearly all the administration's foreign policy jobs. It's not so much that they came into 2001 hankering for regime change in Iraq, but after 9/11, Iraq looked like a terrific chance for the US to remake the Middle East through American force and the brilliance of the free market. (For some really depressing reading on how bizarrely committed US occupation leaders were to that fairy tale, see also Rajiv Chandrasekaran's excellent book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone.)

And then of course there's the Weapons of Mass Destruction fiction. Fischer suggests, far too generously, that Team Bush didn't deliberately lie its way into a war, because while they "often misrepresented" the evidence they had,

meeting notes and other accounts do not show them as plotting to sell a weapons threat that they knew was fictitious, nor as having been misled by faulty intelligence.

Rather, the record suggests something more banal: A critical mass of senior officials all came to the table wanting to topple Mr. Hussein for their own reasons, and then talked one another into believing the most readily available justification.

“The truth,” Mr. Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair in 2003, “is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason.”

While we're willing to believe that groupthink, wishful thinking, and self-deception played a role in some of the Bush warheads' thinking, Team Bush also did too much outright lying and spinning to sell the war to dismiss the notion they knew what they were up to. Just see Michael Isikoff and David Corn's 2006 book Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, which we read for a Wonkette Book Club back when I still worked weekends.

And here's where Fisher skims entirely too quickly past his own paper's involvement. Look at this artfully broad summary:

Officials claimed that Mr. Hussein possessed, or would soon possess, nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that he might intend to use against the United States. Those claims were carried, and amplified, by America’s major media outlets.

No mention here of the Times's role in building up the WMD fiction, like the notorious incident where the administration leaked the claim that Iraq had bought aluminum tubes that could be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium. That was duly reported by the Times's Judith Miller on September 8, 2002. The very same day, Dick Cheney, who'd arranged the leak, went on "Meet the Press" and said the tubes amounted to "very clear evidence" Saddam was restarting his nuclear weapons program, saying, "There's a story in The New York Times this morning" about those darn aluminum tubes. Well there's your confirmation!

Again and again, the Times uncritically passed on administration claims, and helped build the impression that there was far more evidence of Iraqi WMDs than there was.

For a super fun time activity, try searching this weekend's story about why the US went to war for the terms "Judith Miller," "Ahmed Chalabi," "yellowcake uranium," or "aluminum tubes."

Look, I never said it would be a long activity.

We suppose the Times might argue that there was no need to say anything more than that vague line about how the press "carried, and amplified" the Bush team's deadly fibs, because that had less to do with why the administration went to war than with how it sold the lie to the American people. Besides, the Times already acknowledged in 2004 that some of its coverage "was not as rigorous as it should have been." They said they're sorry already, jeez. How many times will you meanies keep pointing out that such "problematic" coverage had disastrous consequences, with real people dying?

We're guessing probably in another five years, for the silver anniversary of the Iraq bunglefuck. Unless the Times manages to remember the role it played.


Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 monthly so we can keep reminding you that twenty years ago was no picnic either, even if I had a hairline then.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)


©2018 by Commie Girl Industries, Inc