War For Oil, Ten Years Later

The Iraq war has been raging for ten years now (Yes, ten f*&king years) and though it's finally winding down, it still remains one of the biggest debacles in American history. For any American, the idea that the U.S. went to war with Iraq because we wanted to control Iraqi oil fields was a common one, but was always refuted with vitriol by the pro-Iraq war factions of the country.

David Frum now explains it away in his new piece in the Daily Beast:

I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to U.S. dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.You might imagine that an administration preparing for a war of choice would be gripped by self-questioning and hot debate.

There was certainly plenty to discuss: unlike the 1991 Gulf War, there was no immediate crisis demanding a rapid response; unlike Vietnam, the U.S. entered the war fully aware that it was commencing a major commitment.Yet that discussion never really happened, not the way that most people would have imagined anyway. For a long time, war with Iraq was discussed inside the Bush administration as something that would be decided at some point in the future; then, somewhere along the way, war with Iraq was discussed as something that had already been decided long ago in the past.

In Frum's piece he does rewrite his own history if you read the whole piece but this was still an important revelation.

There was so much hatred spewed our way because it was plain to us that war with Iraq was a massive blunder which would lead into an immoral catastrophe.

Glenn Greenwald follows up with this:

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, nothing produced faster or more vicious attacks on war opponents than the claim that oil was playing a substantial role in the desire to invade. On February 23, 2003, then-Cogressman Dennis Kucinich appeared on Meet the Press and argued that oil was a primary reason for the US to want to invade Iraq, and in response, Richard Perle (Frum's co-author in their 2004 "An End to Evil") replied: "It is a lie, Congressman. It is an out and out lie." That exchange led the Washington Post's liberal columnist Richard Cohen to write this:

"'Liar' is a word rarely used in Washington . . . So it was particularly shocking, not to mention refreshing, to hear Richard Perle on Sunday call Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) a liar to his face . . .

"Kucinich himself seemed only momentarily fazed by Perle's sharp right to his integrity and went on, indomitable demagogue that he seems to be, to maintain that the coming war with Iraq will be fought to control that nation's oil . . . How did this fool get on 'Meet the Press'?"

There are countless other examples of people having their reputations viciously maligned for suggesting that oil was a significant factor in the US and its allies wanting to invade Iraq.

I've spent countless hours writing posts attacking the complicit Beltway media's role in the run-up to the war, so I won't rehash it here. However, the media has been slowly producing articles lamenting their role in helping Bush and Cheney lead America into the Iraq war.

Here's one by Howard Kurtz:

The 10th anniversary this month of the invasion of Iraq will remind most people of a divisive and dubious war that toppled Saddam Hussein but claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians.What it conjures up for me is the media's greatest failure in modern times.Major news organizations aided and abetted the Bush administration's march to war on what turned out to be faulty premises. All too often, skepticism was checked at the door, and the shaky claims of top officials and unnamed sources were trumpeted as fact.

Ya think?

By the time U.S. soldiers discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the media establishment was left with apologies and explanations. The Bush-Cheney administration helped whip up an atmosphere in the wake of 9/11 in which media criticism of national security efforts seemed almost unpatriotic.

As the war, once sold as a cakewalk, went sour in 2004, the New York Times said in an editor's note that its editors were "perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper," some of them erroneous stories by Judith Miller. The paper said its reporting on what turned out to be nonexistent WMDs was "not as rigorous as it should have been" and that the Times overplayed stories with "dire claims about Iraq."

I never understood the media's complicity in helping the Bush administration march us into war. I understand that the country was in shock after 9/11, but we needed the gatekeepers of truth more than ever during that period. What we got was so much worse.

I was working at The Washington Post at the time, and I took it upon myself to examine the paper's performance in the run-up to war. It was not a pretty picture.

From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, I found more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will"; "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War."

By contrast, pieces questioning the evidence or rationale for war were frequently buried, minimized or spiked.Watch:

Len Downie, then the executive editor, told me that in retrospect, "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale. Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part."

Bob Woodward told me that "we did our job, but we didn't do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder." There was a "groupthink" among intelligence officials, he said, and "I think I was part of the groupthink."

Tom Ricks, who was the paper's top military reporter, turned in a piece in the fall of 2002 that he titled "Doubts," saying that senior Pentagon officials were resigned to an invasion but were reluctant and worried that the risks were being underestimated.

An editor killed the story, saying it relied too heavily on retired military officials and outside experts -- in other words, those with sufficient independence to question the rationale for war."There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?" Ricks said.

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