We were right about the Iraq war and they were wrong. But have we learned a thing?
EDITORS NOTES Ten years ago, we shut San Francisco down.
When George W. Bush gave the order to launch the invasion of Iraq, so many protesters hit the streets that it was impossible to do business. Market Street was closed. Tens of thousands of people didn't go to work. Some 2,300 people were arrested, held in warehouses at the piers because there was no way to fit them in the county jail.
It was an exhilarating week (although I spent much of it trying to get my reporters out of the clink; the SFPD wasn't paying much attention to press passes in the massive sweeps). It was a statement of how overwhelmingly this city was opposed to Bush's War. It was repeated in smaller versions all over the country.
And it didn't matter. Rep. Nancy Pelosi not only missed the antiwar rallies, she criticized us for costing the city money. A virtually unanimous Congress sides with Bush. Anyone who disputed the government line was branded as un-American.
And now we know the truth. It's hard to find a single credible person who argues that the Iraq War was a good idea. After nearly $2 trillion dollars wasted, 4,300 US soldiers dead, and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed, nothing of value has been achieved. The new Iraq is not a reliable US ally in the Middle East. That nation is not stabilized; in fact, it's headed for civil war. There were no weapons of mass destruction.
Even if you want to be a pro-imperialist, US-interests-above-all type, you're still going to be disappointed -- American companies don't control Iraq's oil supply.
Ten years later, Bush is nowhere to be seen. He's hiding out, painting pictures of himself, living comfortably. His kids didn't die in the desert or come home with PTSD. He's not going to be on the hook for the debt.
And none of the leaders of the pro-war march is apologizing -- or even kinda, sorta admitting that they were terribly wrong. It's hard to find any major news media accounts saying that the protesters -- the ones who shut down San Francisco -- were absolutely right.
Paul Krugman, one of the few mainstream news media voices who recognized the folly of the war from the start, put it this way in his March 18, 2013 column:
"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."
So let's just take a moment now to reflect -- not only on the horrible human tragedy but the political lessons. Because we were right, and they were wrong -- and I just wish that for once, they'd admit it.