Nation’s “Paper of Record” Acknowledges the U.S. Invasion of Iraq Unleashed a Sectarian Bloodbath

fallujah_war-rubble-350It’s always intriguing when the Newspaper of Record, even tacitly and buried inside an article, acknowledges that a U.S. policy it once trumpeted as vital to the nation’s security turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

In a front-page, above-the-fold piece that features Michael Gordon as one of its co-authors – the same Michael Gordon who co-authored with Judith Miller the infamous September 2002 New York Times article that became a clarion call for the invasion of Iraq — we find a subtle admission that the sectarian violence now engulfing the Middle East is, in part, the result of the U.S. invasion and occupation.

Five paragraphs in we learn:

“The drumbeat of violence in recent weeks threatens to bring back the worst of the Iraqi civil war that the United States touched off with an invasion and then spent billions of dollars and thousands of soldiers’ lives to overcome.” [Italics added]

This confession is remarkable because it appears that the Establishment press has become comfortable with blandly conceding that the Iraq war was not only a spectacular waste of lives and money, but also, an epic failure even on the neo-cons’ own “strategic” terms.

Remember when Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush and the rest lied about Americans being “greeted as liberators” in Iraq? And when they lied about the Iraqi government’s stash of weapons of mass destruction? And when they lied about how the U.S.-allied Sunni Arab states – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan – “privately” urged the Bush Administration to invade Iraq while publicly opposing it?

Cut to twelve years later. Now we’re being told in passing, as if it were “old news” that “everyone knows,” that the policy that the corporate media, including the Times, so successfully rammed down the public’s throat in 2002 and 2003 ended up unleashing a wider sectarian conflagration.

The thrust of the article recognizes that Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran (now in a de facto alliance with the Shia government in Baghdad) are vying for power and engaged in an intractable religious war.

Even while recognizing that the United States tipped the balance of power in Iraq in favor of the Shia majority and thereby pushed the country’s power structure closer to Iran, the authors also imply that the problems arose from a “vacuum” that emerged after the American troop withdrawal of 2011. Subtext: Maybe a re-invasion of Iraq will be necessary to stop the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Al Qaeda). Already the U.S. is rushing Hellfire missiles and other weapons to Iraq.

While much of the article gives the impression that somehow a “vacuum” in power developed in Iraq after the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011, if one reads between the lines it’s clear that this sorry state of affairs in the Middle East is the catastrophic outcome of a neo-con foreign policy that at the time the Times embraced in its reporting tone and editorial content.

There wasn’t a power “vacuum” in Iraq until the United States created one. The Shia majority long ago filled that hole. Desperate to hang on to power and equally desperate to find allies the beleaguered government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki naturally gravitated toward Iran. Where else could it turn?

We still have a hangover from that wretched period when the neo-cons and their fellow travelers in the corporate media were thumping like a drum people’s post-9-11 fears and baser instincts. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were part of an orchestrated effort that ended up creating the specter of an intolerant people ready to neglect their own Constitutional rights; eager to sacrifice their basic freedom for “security.”

Even so, the Times article is as if a mainstream press outlet finally acknowledged the fabric of government lies that surrounded the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964 that was the pretext for the Vietnam War. So I guess the Times writing that the U.S. invasion “touched off” the ongoing sectarian bloodbath that has engulfed the region, on a certain level, might be a hopeful sign. (Fifty years later, we’re still awaiting a retraction of the Gulf of Tonkin reporting.)

A Vote for These Democrats Is a Vote for War

Amazingly, even with a “liberal” Democratic administration possibly on the verge of a diplomatic breakthrough with the Iranian government on its uranium enrichment program, a set of determined hawks in the president’s own party are gunning to torpedo the delicate negotiations that their former colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to hammer out.

For the first time in 30 years the Americans and the Iranians appear to be making progress toward not only a settlement of the nuclear issue but perhaps a rapprochement that will benefit both nations (and the region) immensely.

I guess these wise Senators haven’t figured out yet that in the battle against Al Qaeda’s influence in Iraq, the United States and Iran are on the same side.

A gaggle of Democratic Senators cannot contain their warmongering instincts when it comes to Iran and have arrogantly ignored the Obama administration’s warnings against sabotaging the negotiations. For political reasons they’re intent on passing wholly unnecessary, even destructive, new economic sanctions on Iran.

And for what?

To show their benefactors and constituents that they prefer a military “solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue ?

joseph palermoThe Obama Administration’s failed attempt last August to garner public support for cruise missile strikes against Syria, along with the Democratic Senators who are determined to undermine any negotiated settlement with Iran on its nuclear program, show that the neo-cons, despite widespread acknowledgement of their past failures, still cast a long shadow over U.S. Middle East policy.

Joseph Palermo
Joseph A Palermo Political Commentary


  1. franbunc says

    In 2001 I saw all this coming as the Iraq situation jelled publicly. (1) The major sectarian split, Sunni-Shia. (2) The Shia relation with Shia dominated Iran, despite the Iraq-Iran war. (3) The poor persons invasion of Iraq and resulting disaster. (4) The major screw up and “early” withdrawal by the US after a generation of Republican criminals made millions and billions off the invasion.
    (5) The debacles imposed on Iraq from Washington criminals with phony programs, pacification, etc. to naught. (6) The flooding of Iraq with money with NO accountability, stolen by Americans mostly.

    Worse, Bush walked without being nailed as a war criminal, along with the rest of his criminal crew — some of whom are now beating the drums for a war with Iran. Should have hung the bastards from trees on White House lawn. And then the assholes put the whole affair, and others on a credit card, including all the theft. And worse, there are shithead Republicans now embedded in the Government, having shifted from appointees to govt employees, like roaches hiding from daylight, and always there to betray us any way possible.

  2. JoeWeinstein says

    Once again this article gives us a pseudo ‘peace’ line: that preventing nuclear war by a couple days of air strikes is nasty ‘warmongering’. By the same token, this article wants us to view a deal which enables yet more buildup of nuke capabilities by a rogue regime – one that right now (even without nukes) sponsors and rops up wars (including one in Syria which has already killed over 130,000 and has displaced MILLIONS) – as a breakthrough for ‘peace’. And meanwhile the article disregards the real warmongering that this ‘peace’ breakthrough and other Obama stances are actually achieving right now.
    After nearly two months the alleged ‘diplomatic breakthrough’ with Iran remains still just that – alleged. The supposed deal hasn’t actually started – albeit the Iran nuke program is now two months further down the road, and meanwhile the world perceives that Obama has no intent of actually in some real (non-rhetorical) way stopping Iran from getting nuke breakout capability. Like Palermo, Obama views as ‘warmongering’ merely having a Congressionally authorized plan B to deal with the possibility that Iran doesn’t live up to the ‘deal’ – whatever it is. But the Iranian leaders have a different view of what counts as ‘peace’ and of they are committed to: they proclaim loud and clear that their nuke program will advance on schedule, deal or no deal.
    Even apologist Palermo has to speak of us still being ‘possibly on the verge’ of this supposedly wonderful ‘breakthrough’ deal (a deal which acknowledges that Iran can get on with its nuke program without missing a day, provided that FIRST for six months it builds roads and buildings and develops missiles – and THEN uses them to make plutonium devices and other goodies).
    Meanwhile, even MSM ‘analysts’ and ex-stooges of Obama are daring to admit that in effect by doing the deals with Assad and Iran – and now supplying missiles to Maliki in Iraq – Obama’s USA is positively warmongering or anyhow getting the USA deeper into Mideast madness: namely by in effect taking the Shia side in the great Shia-Sunni shootout and mass slaughter and dislocation that is engulfing Syria and now Iraq and on to elsewhere in the Mideast. This slaughter and dislocation themselves owe largely to Obama’s earlier passive and appeasement-based policies, and especially to his empty declarations and unenforced red lines concerning Assad and Syria.
    So why this massive pro-Shia pro-more-war tilt? It seems to be part of the Obama (and apparently Palermo too) eyes-closed doctrine that the USA’s only real enemy in the Mideast is Sunni Al Qaeda – even though the one regime which daily publicly (even after the supposedly wonderful ‘deal’) proclaims ‘death to America’ is in fact the Shia Iran regime. (And the regime has backed up words with deeds: its client terror groups – notably Hezbollah in Lebanon and operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan – are in fact responsible for deliberate murders of hundreds of Americans.)
    So, even as Obama seems intent on getting USA troops (but not drones or missiles) out of the Mideast, he’s doing it in the most perverse way: by being sure in the process to keep the USA entangled with a growing region-wide conflict and meanwhile also to dump on decades-old alliances with Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, so as instead to hand over the region’s hegemonic keys to the prime sponsor of regional terror and of Butcher Assad’s Syrian atrocities: the Iran regime.
    By the way there’s been one recent glaring exception to the idea of bringing home USA troops so as to keep them out of harm’s way. Namely, Kerry’s first idea of an Arab-Israel ‘peace’ deal included a (heat) stroke of genius: actually sending more US forces into the Mideast and for some years putting them in just about the most risky and vulnerable locale there – the Jordan Valley – to be ideal targets from all sides – including the blistering sun.

    • franbunc says

      You sir are a warmongering rightwing teabilly asshole! Bet you do not like a Black Man in your White House, frigging racist bastard. Go to whatever hell they impose on really stupid people.

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