Ten years ago, we were treated to the opening of the “Shock and Awe” campaign as bombs and cruise missiles rained down on Iraq. Well, I wasn’t shocked, as it had been crystal clear since at least the preceding September that Bush, Cheney, et al were marching to war and that nothing, bar nothing, would sway them from that course. Weapons inspectors finding nothing (remember, they were IN Iraq in the months leading up to the war and reported they were finding no evidence)? No matter. Trumped up evidence—uranium purchases that didn’t exist, meetings with al Qaeda that didn’t happen, photos of random buildings and trucks labeled “weapons labs”? Who cares.
What I was awed by, and remain even more so today, was the abysmal gullibility of the American people, particularly the “reporters” in the news media who were taken in by Dick Cheney’s shell game. Osama bin Laden goes into a hole in Afghanistan. Cheney and Bush make a few swift hand movements while muttering “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” and, voila, everyone points at…Iraq. And off we go, ignoring the group that actually attacked America, charging down the rabbit hole of Iraq. And they didn’t just pull the wool over our eyes, We The People grabbed the wool out of Cheney’s cold, slimy hands, jammed it on our own head, pulled it down to our neck and crazy-glued it to our face. We bought it. We broke it. And we’re still paying for it.
Even more awe-inspiring is that today, the people responsible for this $3 Trillion fiasco are treated as seasoned experts, old hands whose opinions are still courted (see Paul Wolfowitz interview recently at the American Enterprise Institute where he, no surprise, continues to defend his debacle). And Rumsfeld tweets to remember the 10th anniversary of the “war to liberate 25 million people,” rather than the “war to pretend to look for weapons of mass destruction.” How bad do Republicans have to screw up, how much do they have to cost us in money, lives and reputation before they are held to account? That question is not answerable scientifically, because it’s an event that has never yet occurred, so we can’t say what the limit is. But it’s time we hit it.