On Iraq, Americans Are To Blame Too

John Glaser, March 21, 2013

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Over at the indispensable LobeLog, James A. Russell writes on this reflective tenth anniversary of the Iraq War that it isn’t just the fault of the Bush administration and the obedient Congress. Americans are to blame too.

While it is true that we got led down the path to war by officials that consciously lied about intelligence to justify it, concealed their real motivations and willfully ignored voices that questioned predictions of a quick and easy victory — the undeniable truth is that this country allowed itself to be led like lambs to the slaughter.

And it was a slaughter. The river of human blood — Iraqi and American, to say nothing of lasting injuries on the battlefield that have wrecked lives around the world — flows wide and deep as documented by the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General.

So who is really responsible for the catastrophe and what should we do about it? Thus far, this country has avoided looking too hard into the mirror and instead blames the small caste of ideologically motivated neoconservative advisers clustered in the Pentagon and White House who had their own reasons for wanting to get rid of Saddam Hussein and could have cared less about the potential costs.

There has been no truth commission, no calling to account for these officials, who all returned to their law offices, lobbying jobs, became scions at the Council on Foreign Relations or were rewarded the chance to pollute the minds of students at Harvard and elsewhere.

These advisers took a free pass while our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines picked their way through the wreckage of their comrades’ body parts and dead Iraqis that littered the landscapes of Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul and a host of other places that most Americans had never heard of.

However, it wasn’t just the Bush administration that took a free pass. An uncomfortable truth is that Americans, like those advisers, have also chosen to avoid taking a long, hard look in the mirror.

As much as this country wants to avoid it, the fact is that the war and the way it was launched says more about this country than those who sold the war with their public relations blitz.

He’s right. As self-serving and deceptive as political leaders in Washington are, they are ultimately beholden to popular opinion. But Americans are easily swayed, easily frightened, and have an alarming nationalist streak.

On the eve of the Iraq war, one of the 23 Senators who voted against the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, Robert Byrd, quoted Nazi war criminal Hermann Georing, who at the Nuremberg tribunals had the following exchange:

Göring: Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.




15 Responses to “On Iraq, Americans Are To Blame Too”

  1. Democracy requires trust between government and governed. To extent government trusts the constituency that upholds it, that constituency isn't oppressed by government, which by its nature is oppressive. To extent governed trust their government, that administration has latitude of policy. We trust our leaders to make good decisions, and we must relearn the lesson that they ALWAYS will betray that trust. Blaming Iraq on blobby abstraction like "Americans" dilutes and diffuses blame that rightfully should rest on those leaders, and lobbies that pushed a war most of these horrid "Americans" didn't want.

  2. bsyd8fgh7dr sy87rgfy

  3. John Glaser: “He’s right. As self-serving and deceptive as political leaders in Washington are, they are ultimately beholden to popular opinion. But Americans are easily swayed, easily frightened, and have an alarming nationalist streak.”

    Me: No. No “leaders in Washington” are “beholden to popular opinion.”

    Bernays: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

    Me: A proper democracy has at least three preconditions; a fully&fairly informed electorate, a wide choice of *honest* candidates who, upon election, faithfully and successfully work *for* we, the people’s best interests. The US, as many ‘Western’ so-called democracies fail at all three.

    Further, that popular opinion is successfully manipulated is *proven* by the US population’s almost complete acceptance of the Saddam-9/11 link – which is 100% *fabrication*.

    However, the (pro-war, lying) propaganda is pernicious, often scientifically designed, and catapulted continuously by the MSM + PFBCs; recalling the “Big Lie” principle, the popular opinion is *not*, as Herman&Chomsky asserted, “manufactured consent,” but rather weary capitulation: “Do what you want, I know you will anyway.”

    Many of us, we the people, across the world demonstrated against the illegal invasion = “supreme international crime” planned for Iraq – but we were ignored. The rulers, actually tyrants, do not consider popular opinion as anything else as to be manipulated = (pro-war) corrupted.

    Me: The citizenry, outnumbering the tyrants by more than 99:1 *could* insist on real democracy-type outcomes, but they are guilty of one thing: Greater allegiance to their wide/flat TVs, and the (US-MMH = Media (aka press, radio + TV), Madison Ave., Hollywood) rubbish that spews out of those TVs.

  4. I am not to blame. I opposed the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Does anyone remember that the Bush administration demanded that the Taliban turn over bin Laden immediately after 9/11? They said they would if Bush would provide their evidence that bin Laden was behind 9/11. Just like any country would if demanded to extradict anyone within its borders. Instead of providing the evidence, having the Taliban arrest and turn over bin Laden Bush launched an attack that continues to this day. Don’t lumb me in with these murderers.

  5. Americans in general are out of touch with reality.., their nationalism, create selfishness, their historical relation with Anglo Saxon-ism creating individualism, the supremely is the heritage left by British and has become part of the culture of americanist…, the social economical culture of americanism is based on vulture capitalism which advocates for individualism and greatly invest in individualism culture rather then a social culture that would preach for a broader democracy, this is the social cultural understanding of americanism, therefore, americanism is a breathing ground for fascism, therefore, non other then Americana and its culture is important then individualism.

  6. o the extent that communities divert law enforcement resources from violent crimes to illegal drug offenses, the risk of punishment for engaging in violent crime

  7. "As much as this country wants to avoid it, the fact is that the war and the way it was launched says more about this country than those who sold the war with their public relations blitz."

    Honestly, that's what makes Bacevich's piece in Harpers castigating Paul Wolfiwitz so pathetic. Getting an American war started doesn't take a lot of anything, even lies these days. Only a minimum (and none of them the least convincing ) was required. Of course everybody was eager to go to war on Iraq again, after all, the First Gulf War had worked out so splendidly, and this time we could loot, too, since we're going to Baghdad. Hell, what would have taken a superhuman effort and intelligence to accomplish was preventing the US from making war on Iraq. Why he thinks Wolfowitz was so important is beyond me, but so are a lot of things.

  8. The American public has always been kept in the dark about the true nature of its government's Middle East policies. I hate to continually harp on this word, but it is Western imperialism which is at the heart of the Arab world's catastrophes, and the failure of Arab nationalism to break out of the neo-imperial system imposed upon it 80 to 90 years ago is the source of the debilitating illness of reactionary theocratic fundamentalism that infects not only the Arabs, but Iran, Pakistan and other Muslim-majority lands as well.__The true nature of the anti-Arabism that controls US ME policies can be seen in American and Western European involvement in Palestine, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, the Gulf, Egypt Sudan and elsewhere through many decades

  9. However, the most stark example of how the US public has been kept in the dark and manipulated is, of course, Iraq. How many know of Carter's "green light" to Saddam in Sept, 1980, or of the Reagan campaign's 1980 treasonous collusion with Khomeini's inner circle in order to thwart Carter? Many think that the US sided with Saddam against Iran in the 1980s, but how many khow that the US and Israel kept Iran's large US-made warplane and helicopter fleets in the air throughout that war? How many Americans (or Britons!) heard this explicit statement of US/British policy under Reagan/Thatcher made by UK Defence Secy Alan Clark, "The interests of the West were best served by Iran and Iraq fighting each other, and the longer the better."

  10. Very few Americans were aware that an American ME reporter, Milton Viorst, had already stumbled-upon evidence that the US – through Schwartzkopf in particular – was urging Kuwait to provoke Iraq and promising US protection before the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, or that Bush I stubbornly resisted all efforts to secure Iraqi withdrawal through negotiation, just to show that he had personally "kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all". Readers here may know that Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait were exaggerated, but how many know that the Kuwaitis suimmarily executed 1000 pro-Iraq Palestinian refugees and deported most of the rest after Desert Storm? Americans are vaguely aware of the brutality of US forces during Desert Storm, but few know the full extent of it:

  11. Not "merely" the Highways of Death, but the live burial of thousands of helpless Iraqi troops by US armored bulldozers and the frustrated orders of Gen Barry McAffrey, who hadn't gained any bloody glory in Desert Storm, and deliberately broke a US-declared ceasefire to unleash the fury of his Division's armor, artillery, helicopters and Warthogs on Iraqi troops who were well inside Iraq and withdrawing in good order. And what, exactly, was the purpose of Bush I's call for civil war in Iraq, and where was the morality in that. That's a question few Americans in the media or public asked at the time. Maybe Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could answer that, because they have done the same thing in Libya and Syria.

  12. And it is precisely NOW and THERE in Syria, where the murderous hypocrisy of anti-Arab US policy, the complicit criminality of the Western media, and the malignant ignorance of the US public are coming full circle. With the sociocide of Arab Iraq nearly complete, America has finally turned to Syria, the beating heart of Arabism. However, if you listen closely – especially to what the five star Generals are saying, but also to what Administation, Senatorial, Congressional, State Department and "thinktankers" are saying – the US is helping the reactionary, sectarian Sunni fundamentalists to destroy Syria in order to hurt Iran, the very nation to which Bush the Simple's handed hegemonic influence over Iraq!

  13. Forgive me. I keep forgetting that the US is all about humantarianism, democracy and peace.

  14. @Ba’thist * 6: Yes. Yes to ‘forgive you,’ yes to “80 to 90 years” of Western imperialism trouble for the ME, mostly to do with oil and a certain piece of real estate. Actually, I would date the real estate trouble to the 1st Z-Congress in 1897 (116 yrs ago) and the oily problem to “the switch from coal to oil in the Royal Navy, a massive engineering task, which depended on securing Mesopotamia’s oil rights,” pre-1912 (~101+ yrs ago). The perennial Qs are 3: 1) Why can’t the ‘Western imperialists’ just *buy* any oil they may need – just like we the people have to buy what we need, 2) why do the Arab/Muslims *allow* themselves to be ‘divided & ruled’ = in the fact abjectly ruined and 3) why are the ‘Western imperialists’ (+ the Z-rogue-regime) *allowed* to perpetrate such vicious crimes, *especially* after WW2/Nuremberg? Given that the ‘Western masses’ = them, the ppp-dd’d people (ppp-dd’d = pushed propaganda paradigm dumbed-down) – mostly doze before their wide/flat TVs, many going overweight on beer and home-delivered pizza (popcorn as before/after/continuous snacks), there *must* still be many clever people ‘out there’ (*not* universities; since ‘students for Reagan’ (1980s) & such, it seems that unis are now places of *no* thought, *no* (good) morals); but the many proper-thinking, good-morals citizens left would vastly outnumber the <1% lying, psychopathic, so-called 'leaders' = undemocratic rulers = tyrants, all that is needed is a) organisation and b) long overdue remedial action (= gaol for most, worse for a smaller élite, recalling that there's nothing élite about criminals…

  15. I gained more from your comments than I did from the article above it – thanks for sharing, from an open-minded American expatriot that is ashamed of the hidden sordid history of US Imperialism, NeoConservatism and fueling of conflicts worldwide for economic interests.