It was pretty transparent to me months before March 19, 2003 that Bush was taking us to war in Iraq. I also knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq, and told many of my friends they’d never find such a thing. The lie was so transparent; I never understood why no one else saw it as I did.
It was also transparent that the only reason we were going to war in Iraq was oil. I mean really, what do two oil men long for besides oil? Why wasn’t Afghanistan sexy enough to occupy the Bush Administration’s focus? That is easy. Afghanistan doesn’t sit on top of the world’s second largest oil reserve. So Bush was a liar, transparent and obvious. But to say so on March 19, 2003 was nearly to speak treason.
My best friend asked me why I wasn’t worried that there would be another attack from Saddam. Easy I said, there were no Iraqis on those planes that hit the Towers, hence we’d never had the first attack from Saddam, so it seemed somewhat illogical to anticipate a second.
More to the point, Saddam was our man in Iraq, as awful and nasty as he was, the CIA put him in power. Bush the first, knew full well—having been head of the CIA under Nixon, and V.P. under Reagan—that Saddam was in Iraq for a purpose: to keep the Iraqi Shia from uniting with the Iranian Shia and creating a Shia crescent powerblock in the Mid-East. As bad as he was, he was our bad ass. In fact, when we did find some WMD in Iraq, they were American made. George H. W. Bush did not attack Bagdad because he knew what was at stake, regardless of the brutality of the family and the havoc Saddam Inc. rained down of the Shia.
Now it is apparent that George W. Bush wanted to be a better president than his dad. We should probably call him Oedibush. And he thought the way to do that was to take out Saddam, besides as Bush said before the television cameras on September 2, 2002 “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.” So it was a personal vendetta to George the second. Did I say transparent? Still what I found amazing was the hysteria that gripped my friends and made my protestations seem unpatriotic and hardly tolerable. Now on the seventh anniversary of the launch of the war, that transparency seems available to a majority of Americans.
Americans now know no WMDs have been found, though one of my best students still claims that they were trucked off to Syria before the attack.
Americans now know that despite Colin Powell’s magisterial assertions before the Security Council there were no mobile germ warfare labs found. In fact, what Bush and Company insisted were such labs turned out to be vehicles designed to generate hydrogen for weather balloons.
Americans now know that Iraq never tried to buy Yellow cake uranium from Niger. In fact a huge scandal broke out from this when Vice President Cheney tried to take revenge on former Ambasador Joseph C. Wilson by outing Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame Wilso, as a CIA agent. Americans were shocked by this act of treason and were amazed when Scooter Libby was indicted and convicted for obstruction of justice and two counts of perjury during his testimony before a grand jury conducted inassociation with the investigation.
Americans now know that the threats of “mushroom clouds” appearing over American Cities from Saddam’s nuclear weapons program was a complete hoax. After we invaded Iraq we discovered that the program had been discontinued a decade earlier.
Americans now know that there was never a Prague meeting between Mohamed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker and Iraqi intelligence even though this was a lie repeated over and over again by the Administration and on Fox News.
Americans now know that Iraq never provided chemical weapons training to al-Qaeda and that in fact al-Qaeda and Saddam would have been bitterest enemies as he had no faith in radical Islam.
Americans now know that these six years of the Iraq war have been a reign of death unparalleled in recent military history. Besides the 4,239 American Military causalities, and over 100,000 American Military wounded there have also been an estimated 1,320,100 Iraqi civilian deaths.
Americans now know that during the 8 years of the Bush Presidency he apparently actually enacted the Unitary Presidency, giving himself unprecedented powers to become a virtual dictator. On CNN December 18, 2000 during a photo op with Congressional leaders the unscripted GW Bush before his inauguration said “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” The Obama Justice Department has released a series of shocking Bush era memos empowering him to become just that. That he never chose to seize the absolute power is a mystery.
I mean here’s a guy who as Governor of Texas executed 152 men on Death Row and in at least one case bizarrely mocked the intended victim when he refused her clemency. He’s the same guy who squirmed out of serving in Viet Nam using every trick in the book. He’s the same guy who when confronted by the 9/11 disaster lollygagged about at that elementary school in a daze, then was whisked out on Air Force One to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and then landed at Offcutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. There he presumably sought shelter at the super secure headquarters of the U.S. Strategic Command before it was demanded he return to Washington to speak to the public.
Dictators are made of sterner stuff. Now if Cheney had been President, we WOULD have had a dictatorship I feel sure.
So it turns out that what G.W’s sweet little war did was to turn Iran into a superpower and generate that feared Shia crescent as a fact of Mid East Politics. G.W. gave the radical Islamicists the greatest recruiting tool imaginable in his crusader invasion. G.W. swore to capture and kill Osama ben Laden, but today Osama sits safe and sound somewhere still fomenting plots against America. The economic wreckage G.W. left in the wake of this presidency is exactly what Osama ben Laden hoped his attack on 9/11 would accomplish—to bring down the world’s greatest economy. All in all it seems—in my humble opinion—that G.W. Bush was the greatest ally Iran and Osama ben Laden could have hoped to have and probably the greatest enemy America has known.
In honor of these honored dead, listen to Brian Turner read “Obituary”.
Iraq War Veteran Brian Turner reads from his award-winning poetry collection, “Here, Bullet” (Alice James Books, 2005 (www.alicejamesbooks.org). Filmed at Bowdoin College on November 29, 2005 by documentary filmmaker Eric Herter during a reading sponsored by From the Fishouse, an online audio archive of emerging poets.