It’s nice to see how the presidential candidates are being interrogated over their view of the Iraq war. When Megyn Kelly asked Jeb Bush “If you knew then what you know now, would you have ordered the invasion of Iraq?” he was so flummoxed that he could barely give a coherent answer – and he spent the next week backtracking, giving at least four different answers.
Marco Rubio came in for some rough treatment on Fox News at the hands of Chris Wallace, who asked him the same question: Rubio refused to answer the question. Instead, he insisted that “Presidents don’t have the luxury of hindsight,” and that, given what he supposedly knew at the time, George W. Bush “made the right decision.” The rest of the Republican candidates – with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul – are taking the Rubio line, i.e. refusing to answer the question as asked, and babbling about how “the world is a better place” without Saddam Hussein. They’d rather not talk about whether it’s a better place now that ISIS and an Iranian-dominated Iraqi government have taken Saddam’s place.
This issue of what we really knew about Iraq’s fabled “weapons of mass destruction” at the time – i.e. when it counted – is the real crux of the matter. So, what did “we” know?
We knew that people like former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter were denying the war propaganda, and that, as I put it in a column published on this site in the summer of 2000, “Iraqi weapons facilities have not only been largely destroyed but are beyond the possibility of regeneration any time in the foreseeable future.”
We knew that war propaganda put out by Iraqi “defectors” claiming Saddam Hussein was building a nuclear bomb was a lie – a “20-kiloton lie,” as I put it at the time – as early as the winter of 2001. But of course you had to be reading Antiwar.com in order to know that.
We knew that the CIA was being forced to echo the Bush-Cheney line – and that the classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD was chock full of dissenting footnotes that never made it into the national discourse.
We knew that a parallel intelligence-gathering apparatus, the “Office of Special Plans,” operating under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, was set up by the neoconservatives designed to bypass normal intelligence-gathering channels. Its job was to fashion “talking points” out of cherry-picked “factoids” and feed them to the media – which didn’t question and simply relayed them as news.
We knew that much of the “evidence” the Bush administration was presenting as “proof” of Iraq’s secret weapons arsenal was based on outright forgeries – and I wrote about it, and we reported on it, not in hindsight but as the lies were being told.
Rubio complains that Presidents don’t have the luxury of hindsight – but isn’t leadership all about foresight? The same question needs to be put to the high-and-mighty pundits of the “mainstream” media, most of whom supported the war and are now busy running away from their own dead wrong prognostications of “victory.” Today they bemoan the horrific consequences of that war, but yesterday they were all beating the war drums as hard as they could, drowning out those few who stood up and spoke out against the war hysteria.
Those few were gathered right here, on this web site. Our regular readers and supporters knew that going to war with Iraq was the equivalent of opening a Pandora’s Box: they knew that a defeated Iraq would break apart, that the Iranians would move into the resulting power vacuum, and that chaos – and an ongoing conflict – would be the inevitable result. They knew because it was all predicted right here, by Antiwar.com, many years before the rise of ISIS.
So, yes, this writer and the writers for this web site were indeed quite right about the Iraq war, and how it would haunt us for many years to come – but where has that gotten us?
We’re still struggling to keep Antiwar.com afloat: while our costs go up, and our workload gets heavier, we still have to run a fundraising drive four times a year just to pay the bills – and it hasn’t gotten any easier.
You’d think being right about all the above – and so far in advance of everyone else – would’ve benefited us in some way. No, I’m not talking about fame or fortune – after all, our readership has increased exponentially, and, after all these years, we do have that wonderful Drudge link. What I’m wondering, however, is why, after all this, we still have to beg and then ceaselessly hector our readers for the financial support we need to survive.
I mean, c’mon – haven’t we earned it several times over?
Yes, I know – people have their lives to live, and it isn’t easy getting by these days, but surely the announcement that we’ve raised $33,000 in matching funds should’ve provoked a better response than we’ve gotten so far.
Look, I don’t mean to get pushy, but really: Antiwar.com was there when it counted. Unlike these Johnny-come-lately’s to the cause of peace, we here at Antiwar.com had the foresight to see what was happening in Iraq, and in this country, when practically everyone else was intimidated into silence.
Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that critics of the war were slandered as supporters of “terrorism.” In those dark days our server was constantly being attacked by hackers and we had to erect a defensive cyber-wall – at great cost – to ward them off. This occurred – “coincidentally,” of course – in tandem with a concerted smear campaign. And even more ominous threats loomed large: I had to refrain from registering to vote because there were so many death threats coming in on a daily basis. And, unknown to us at the time, the FBI launched an investigation targeting myself and Eric Garris, our webmaster and general manager.
In the face of all this, we refused to shut up, or even tone down our criticism, secure in the knowledge that one day we would be vindicated.
Well, now that day has come – and we’re asking you, our readers and supporters, to come through for us.
Our matching funds program is our bread-and-butter. Without it we couldn’t survive but for a few weeks. It is immensely important that we match the $33,000 so generously pledged by some committed supporters. If you’ve been holding off from sending your donation, now is the time to make it.
The War Party is pushing hard to get us back into Iraq – in order to fight the Frankenstein monster they created. And they’re also pushing to get us into a war with Iran: nixing the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear power program is at the very top of their agenda. We live, as an old Chinese proverb puts it, in interesting times – and Antiwar.com is an absolutely necessary resource for understanding what is happening in our world. And not just that: for we don’t only want to understand it, but also to change it.
We need every penny of these matching funds in order to get through the next quarter intact and in fighting shape – because a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people is about to be joined, and we are the War Party’s “enemy combatants.” We can’t unilaterally disarm in the face of these relentless warmongers: we’ve got to win the information war, or else all is lost.
Why should you support us? Because we’ve earned it many times over. So please help us get those essential matching funds by sending in your tax-deductible donation today.
P.S. My good friend Scott Horton, host of the Scott Horton Show, sent me this note some time ago:
“Hey, when you brag about Antiwar.com’s record, you always mention Iraq 13 years ago, but we’ve also been awesome on torture, spying, Guantanamo, Palestine, the Afghan Surge 2009-12, Pakistan–Yemen–Somalia drone wars, Libya, Mali, Syria, all the color-coded revolutions across Europe, Iran’s nuclear program, and all the predictable consequences of being ignored on all these things too.
”So jot it down on a post it note or something.”
I did jot it down as a reminder, and so there are several more reasons for you to donate to the world’s number one antiwar site. Send in your tax-deductible contribution to the cause of peace today.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.