The lies of war


I was listening to Democracy Now this morning, and the introduction to a segment on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War started out with such an honest, accurate, straightforward statement that I didn't even think about it until later:

It was 10 years ago today that the U.S. invaded Iraq on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. The attack came despite worldwide protest and a lack of authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

Those are facts. That's about as clean and well-documented a lead as you can put on a news story. It took me a while to realize that a show I listen to because of it's outfront progressive politics was simply saying what should have been on the front page of the New York Times and every other "objective" news media outlet in the country.

Let's just parse those 40 words for a second.

Yes, it was 10 years ago. Yes, the U.S. invaded Iraq. Yes, Bush knew that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, making that claim by definition a "false pretext." Yes, there was well-documented worldwide protest. Yes, the U.N. Security Council refused to sanction the invasion.

That's not liberal bias. It's demonstrable historical fact.

Let's compare that to what the New York Times said:

Ten years ago this week, on March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.

Also true -- but inaccurate. Inaccurate because it's incomplete. And that matters, a lot.

I go to Paul Krugman, the NYT columnist who (unlike his bosses) was right about the war from the start. Here's his lead:

Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.

That's 100 percent accurate and a lot more complete than the "news stories." He continues:

There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.

And here's why it matters: We're doing the same thing again, in a different forum, with the discussion of budget deficits and the need for cuts in spending:

What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority. If you hear that “everyone” supports a policy, whether it’s a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether “everyone” has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion

Here's my lead for the next story on the "sequester:"

House Republicans and the Obama administration met again this week to discuss a problem that doesn't exist, offer solutions that won't work, and drive the nation further into poverty, inequality, and debt.

Accurate. Complete. Factual. I can't wait to see it on the front page of the Times.