Donald Trump’s debate performance on Saturday night in forcing a renewed discussion on 9/11, its aftermath and the ill-fated Iraq War has unnerved the GOP. Some GOPers have argued that the Iraq War was not all about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) – in that they are correct. WMD’s were simply used to SELL the war to a bloodthirsty public after 9/11. The war was always about ideologically wrong-headed views of American power being projected in the Middle East and an idealistic (even liberal) belief in reshaping the world on Democratic and American lines. The pretext for the war is important so we understand how manipulative the Bush Administration and its allies (which included several Democrats and former Democrats) were to sell the US public on the need for a “preemptive” war. Also it is critical for us to recall how the media was in the tank for the administration and war fever swept the broadcast networks in a way that was reminiscent of World War II.
The Republicans willingness to cling to an ideological world view and an false narrative that President Obama lost the war and peace in Iraq renders the protests about Donald Trump’s analysis of 9/11 and Iraq null and void. The GOP narrative is more flawed than Trump’s reasoning.
Here is why:
- The Bush Administration’s foreign policy was haphazard and borderline isolationist before 9/11. As President George W. Bush does bear much of the blame for 9/11. He took his eye off the ball and we got burnt big time.
- As soon a 9/12/01 senior Bush administration officials were trying to tie Iraq – a secular state with many Christians in high-ranking positions to the terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. The illogic of these arguments were apparent immediately to people like me who have an elementary knowledge of the region.
- George H.W. Bush had built a massive coalition to fight Iraq in the first Gulf War that included many Arab states. By the middle of 2002, the sympathy for the United States after 9/11 had waned among Arab and Western European leaders because of the rush to attack Iraq. George W. Bush LOST the support of the most vital American allies including Turkey, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia and the war turned into what appeared to most around the globe as an Anglo-American exercise of neo-imperialism. That is the absolute last message the west can afford to EVER send to the rest of the world.
- Once Saddam Hussein was toppled, the occupation was completely bungled and the Iraqi Army ill-advisedly disarmed, directly leading to the insurrection and the formation of Al-Qaida in Iraq and eventually ISIS. This was not an accident. It was the incompetence of American planning and the ineptitude of those administering in the name of the US on the ground that was directly responsible for ISIS forming.
- The response of the GOP and media at the time was to blackball anyone who opposed the war. Scared liberals such as Peter Beinart of The New Republic and Senator’s Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry among others supported the war (I like to point out our Senator Bob Graham of Florida who actually read all of the intelligence reports opposed the war). Media personalities who questioned the war were taken off the air, such as Phil Donahue and Ashley Banfield at MSNBC were shown the door.
This is the GOP and George W. Bush legacy in Iraq. Shame on Donald Trump for pointing out the obvious truth. The Republicans lost Congress in 2006, the Presidency in 2008 and a generation of voters forever largely because of the war. It’s s shame they cannot acknowledge the mistakes and move forward.