Exclusive: Perhaps more than any news organization, the Washington Post steered the United States into the illegal invasion of Iraq. But a Post editorial, which belatedly takes note of the war’s tenth anniversary, admits to no mistakes and acknowledges no lessons learned, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, the Washington Post published an editorial about the disastrous war of choice, a conflict which the Post’s neocon editors promoted with falsehoods and distortions both before the invasion and for years afterwards.
However, if you thought there would be some admission of the newspaper’s long litany of mistakes or some apology to the war’s critics who were routinely maligned in Post editorials and op-eds, you would be sorely disappointed. There was not even a mention of the nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died.
After a brief acknowledgement that the war’s tenth anniversary “generated plenty of commentary about the lessons of that war,” the Post’s editors said nothing about what, if anything, they had learned. Instead, they remained in positive spin mode, citing one supposed accomplishment from the invasion.
“For the first time in decades, contemporary Iraq poses no threat to its neighbors,” the Post declared. However, even that is a lie on two fronts.
First, Iraq under Saddam Hussein had not been a threat to its neighbors since the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91, unless the Post’s editors were having a flashback to the glory days of 2002-03 when they were disseminating President George W. Bush’s bogus WMD propaganda. Do they still believe that nonsense?
Second, today’s Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a threat to its neighbors because al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni extremists from western Iraq have crossed the border to Syria where they have assumed a major role in the violent opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But the Post’s editors want you to believe that the Bush-neocon expedition to Iraq was on the cusp of some great success until President Barack Obama showed up to squander the victory by not insisting on a continuation of the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.
“Iran’s influence over Mr. Maliki’s government is mounting, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s failure to agree with Baghdad on a stay-on force of U.S. troops,” the Post wrote, making it seem as if it were Obama’s petulance that prevented the continued U.S. military presence, not the insistence by Maliki’s government of terms in a “status of forces agreement” unacceptable to the Americans.
In the Post’s frame of reality, however, this failure to keep tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has led to other terrible consequences: “According to U.S. officials, Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly weapons through its airspace to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Repeated appeals from Washington to stop the traffic have gone unheeded.”
But an objective observer might have noted that it was the Bush-neocon hubris, rushing into a war to oust Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime that led inevitably to the expanded influence of Shiite-ruled Iran within the new Shiite-controlled regime in Iraq. Yet, the Post instead placed the blame squarely on Obama.
The Post’s editorial then returned to its current campaign to pressure the Obama administration into entering a new military conflict in Syria, accusing the President of unmanly softness.
“The civil war in Syria, and the passivity with which the Obama administration has responded to it, have reinforced these negative trends. Mr. Maliki fears that the downfall of the Assad regime could lead to a Sunni-dominated government that would back insurrection in Sunni parts of Iraq.
“As with leaders across the Middle East, he perceives that the United States is unwilling to defend its interests in the region, either by stopping the Syrian bloodbath or countering Iran’s interventions. The risk of greater turmoil or even a return to civil war in Iraq is one of several compelling reasons for more aggressive U.S. action to end the war in Syria.”
The Post then summed up its case by suggesting that Obama has betrayed the great victory that the neocons supposedly had won in Iraq.
“President Obama has often given the impression that he has turned his back on Iraq, and many Americans understandably sympathize with him. But a failure to engage with the fragile state U.S. troops left behind would endanger U.S. interests and break faith with the many Americans who made sacrifices there.”
What is particularly startling about the Post’s editorial, which curiously appears four days after the Iraq War’s tenth anniversary, is that the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital continues to live in a neocon fantasy world or at least refuses to acknowledge key Middle East realities.
In Neocon-land, the big U.S. mistake in Iraq was not forcing the Iraqis to accept an indefinite U.S. military occupation, compounded by the Obama administration’s hesitancy to join Israel in bombing Iran and to jump into another bloody quagmire in Syria in other words to continue the neocon grand plan of “regime change” across the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]
Not only did the Post editorial, entitled “Iraq, 10 years later,” offer no self-reflection on the Post’s many factual errors about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, no apology for its bullying of war skeptics, and no recognition of its complicity in a criminal invasion, but the newspaper’s editors appear to have absorbed not a single lesson from what happened a decade ago.
That inability to utter even the most obvious and necessary mea culpa is disturbing in itself. Indeed, if the Post were still a serious news organization committed to the principles of honest journalism, it would have undertaken a major overhaul of its editorial-page staff rather than keeping in place the same leadership and punditry that was so embarrassingly wrong on Iraq.
But, even worse, the Post’s editors continue to pontificate with an arrogance resistant to the undeniable reality of their own misjudgments, incompetence and immorality. In that sense, the Washington Post has become a threat to the Republic and to the world. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Why WPost’s Hiatt Should be Fired.”]
[For a limited time, you can purchase Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush family for only $34. For details, click here.]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The writer is infected with lingering BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome.)
Firstly, the US did not profit by as much as a gallon of oil from liberating Iraq from one of the worst dictators and his murderous clique. We could have, many say we should have, taken over the Iraqi oil industry – second in size only to Saudi Arabia – if nothing else to pay for the cost of the war. But we didn’t. We acted the same way that the US and Britain did in 1945; after liberating the oil-rich nations of the Middle- and Near-East from the Nazis, we could with justification have used a large proportion of their oil reserves (prospected, located, drilled, pumped and shipped by US and UK engineers, who also built multi-billion dollar infrastructure.) But we didn’t.
America’s only motive in Iraq was humanitarian. To ensure that there would be no more pits filled with bodies of thousands of Iraqis whose only crime was speaking out against the regime (or just being accused of it) – some were of mothers hugging their babies. No more streets filled with gased Kurds. No more civil servant rapists. No more of Saddam’s henchmen killing people in their homes.
And George Bush acted correctly on the intelligence he received, and was called on to invade Iraq by Congress. Of course Saddam had WMDs. He used poison gas in his war with Iran, and to murder thousands of his own people. Film of his experiments on dogs with biological agents were smuggled out. The CIA, the NSA, and the intelligence services of over 40 countries, including Britain, said that Saddam not only had WMDs, but he was close to going nuclear He did indeed attempt to buy uranium ore (“yellowcake”) from Niger. Joe Wilson lied, but had to admit when in front of a Senate hearing that Bush had been correct. And in 2002 the US Air Foce flew 500 tons of the apparently nonexistent yellowcake to the US (it was later bought by a Canadian firm.)
it’s also well to remember that almost all the Democrat party leadership, including those who later attacked Bush and said that they never believed he had WMDs. But then, lying is something we expect from Dems.
“One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
–President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
“If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.”
–President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
“Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
–Secretary of State Madeline Half-bright – sorry – Albright, Feb 18, 1998
“He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
–Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
“[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
Letter to President Clinton, signed by:
— Democratic Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others, Oct. 9, 1998
“Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
-Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998
“Hussein has … chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.”
— Madeline Albright, Nov. 10, 1999
“There is no doubt that … Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a legal missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.”
Letter to President Bush, Signed by:
— Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), and others, Dec 5, 2001
“We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”
— Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002
“We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
— Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
And many more.
“â€œwe should be able to expect more responsible coverage on this important matter from The Washington Post â€“ if only out of a desire to avoid the kind of missteps it made on Iraq ten years ago.â€”
What a foolish statement. We should expect no such thing. It would go against several decades of established practice.
WaPo’s owners and management, including editorial of course, got most of what it wanted from the U.S. Iraqi expedition. As with all true neocons, when you strip away their self-serving false-flag ideology, all they bottom-line care about is creating chaos and suffering. Any permanent new ally nation or new oil-producing ally would just be gravy. They’re just fearful/cowardly sadists who think they’re masterful Machiavellians, promoted to places of influence (or maybe only usefulness) by vested interests even more craven and cowardly than the neocons are. Neocons, BTW, are fine just watching the Arab Spring dominoes further fall to pieces.
Tragic to see a once great newspaper descend to the level of Faux Noise.
If the Administration wants to perpetuate its “endless war” policy with new and expanded wars, can one expect that a house organ like the Washington Post would ever admit that the antecedent to these was a mistake?
In an unpublished letter to the Washington Post’s editor, I noted the paper had falsely stated in a March 20 editorial that Intelligence Chief Clapper had recently told Congress â€œTehran could test an ICBM this year.â€ In addition to being untrue, the claim flies in the face of a widespread consensus among outside experts. I concluded by writing that â€œwe should be able to expect more responsible coverage on this important matter from The Washington Post â€“ if only out of a desire to avoid the kind of missteps it made on Iraq ten years ago.â€ But as your letter suggests, this kind of indifference to facts appears to be exactly what we have come to expect from the Postâ€™s editorial page on matters involving the Middle East.
WarPo is dead to me as a news source.