Frank Rich Looks Back at the Invasion of Iraq

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich discusses the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and how consensus for the war was built in Congress and the public square.


Frank Rich
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Comments [13]

Based on the Arab spring uprisings against other dictators-looks like the Iraqis may have overturned Saddam themselves. They never asked to be liberated and to cynically say we liberated them is a euyphyimism for saying we exacted revenge are Arabs for 9-11.No more-no less. Once those Muslims got uppity and brought us to the knowledge that their could be consequences to US for our policies toward THEM[9-11] ,and once we found out that the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia-we got nervous .We met Alquada's demands to remove our military base in their holy land . We now needed to look else where for a more secure mid east country to establish a base and if they have abundant oil-so much the better. Those Saudi people were fundamentalists and as Alquada showed-might resort to destabilizing our partner the Saudi regime who supplied us with below market oil prices for our SUV's. Iraq-being secular-not fundamentalist and having plenty of oil-was an ideal place. They did have a nasty dictator after all and so we could be said to be liberating them. The allegation of WMD's-was just an added narrative to justify our intent to take over that country for our purposes[a military base and below market oil prices in and when the Saudi alliance was destabilized by a fundamentalist Saudi uprising].If Iraq had WMD's -so much the better for us, if not ,well so we made a mistake. We built the biggest embassy in the world there-thinking we would be aligned with the new Iraqi government. We miscalculated when we arrogantly said that our soldiers would be immune from prosecution if they committed crimes against Iraqis. Because the they are men and women-not mice, the Iraqis would not allow that. They did not back down. And we basically got thrown out. Looks like all those Americans died and or were wounded for nothing-as the toppling of dictators throughout the mid east-would have happened there any way. The good news is as mentioned -other nations-not Americans are benefitting from that Iraqi oil. Americans were war criminals and committed crimes against humanity by invading Iraq. If there were justice a lot of people would be on trial at the Hague by now. That huge expensive embassy meant to be a triumphalist edifice from where we could control the mid east,is a testament to our hubris and the boondoggle that it brought us.

Mar. 20 2013 12:36 PM
Cynthia Costa from Manhattan

There's something to be said for 'human intelligence.'

I'm not claiming to have that gift but I did know in my heart that Hussein had no WMD's.


When Hussein scoffed at Bush and told him something like--'Look. Let's have a duel. You send ten of your best guys and I'll get ten of my best guys..."

It was exactly the kind of thing I might say when faced with a preposterous accusation.


Mar. 20 2013 12:33 AM

Frank Rich seems to believe that since the Bush Administration distorted the evidence about WMD when selling the Iraq invasion to Congress and the public in late 2002 and early 2003, it must have known all along that Saddam did not have WMD. That is not what the historical record shows. The problem is not so much that Bush lied about the intelligence, instead the main problem was that Bush did not care about the intelligence. Paul Pillar, a high ranking official in the CIA (and a harsh critic of the Bush Administration) has emphasized that there is no evidence the Bush administration seriously considered the intelligence in deciding whether to invade Iraq.

Mar. 19 2013 08:27 PM
resident alien from Williamsburg

@jgarbuz gets it all backwards! (as usual i'm sorry to say)

what if, the US would have never build up and armed non-democratic dictatorships:
- the shah (of Persia, muslims but not arabs)
- the mudshahidin/taliban
- saddam hussein
to begin with???
the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq and the conflict with Iran might have never happened...!

George Bush, the elder, should have gotten rid of Saddam when he had the chance AND the legitimization!

Of course, the US & the United Nations should consider all kinds of interventions if minorities are getting brutalized, oppressed and killed - regardless if the area is strategically important, has oil, is an arab dictatorship or occupied by a democratic but discriminating power...

Mar. 19 2013 03:31 PM
resident alien from Williamsburg

I'm as appalled now, as I was then, with Steven Hadley insistingly repeating the untruth that everybody believed that Iraq had nuclear WMDs.
And your interviewer letting him get away with it (again)!

Back then, everybody(!) reading any European news media (BBC, Der Spiegel,...) or listening to Hans Blix, the one person who could and should have known, knew that there was not a single shred of evidence to support the WMD "theory" of the Bush administration!
Same with the fabricated evidence of ties between the 9/11 attack and Saddam Hussein - which a shockingly amount of Americans still believes is true...!

Everyone supporting the Bush "theories" was/is either a crook & liar or incompetent or all of the above.

It was sad and eyeopening how the US news media ate it all up, including NPR (with the notable & noble exception of Terry Gross).

Thankfully, I never have & never will rely on only (1) news source from only 1 country & neither should anybody!

I usually don't believe in conspiracy theories i.e. when there are simpler explanations like human stupidity,...but i refuse to believe that EVERYBODY in the Bush administration (besides himself, maybe) was as ignorant, blue eyed and stupid to be fooled by faulty (rather fabricated) intelligence.

If there are congressional hearings about the attack on the embassy in Libya, shouldn't there be a ton of hearings on the background for the attack on Iraq?

But with all the media having egg on their faces for drinking the cool aid and democrats being as complicit as republicans, I'm not holding my breath that anyone will seriously be looking for a smoking gun!

a deeply disillusioned resident alien since 1991.

Mar. 19 2013 02:51 PM
Ken from UWS

I and my friends were railing and marching against the war right from the moment it was threatened. Did we know something the mainstream journalists, whom Brooke Gladstone too-quickly excuses, didn't know? I found her smug defense of these journalists and their corporate masters pathetic and I've lost a measure of respect for her. It is at times like the hysterical post-9/11 period when we need the corrective of a free press the most, and the "free press," by and large, failed us.

Mar. 19 2013 12:48 PM
Noach (Independent, anti-Corporate,anti-War) from Brooklyn


Please be sure to have another look at the comments page for the earlier Brian Lehrer segment on Portman and Gay Marriage, etc.
( )

I made reference to your posts and I think you will appreciate at least some of what I wrote.

Mar. 19 2013 12:28 PM
Ken from UWS

Bush/Cheney obviously cooked the case for war. When will they be brought up on charges for this crime of unimaginable proportions?

Mar. 19 2013 12:22 PM
Susan from Brooklyn

Your guest should be less flip, given the number of bombings and other killings related to sectarian violence in Iraq. If the Sunnis and the Shi'ites got along "about as well as the republicans and democrats in this country" we would all consider that an enormous victory.

Mar. 19 2013 12:18 PM

Has the press learned anything about speaking truth to power? It seems to me that the answer is no, but would like to hear Frank's perspective.

Mar. 19 2013 12:12 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The lesson I learned from the Iraqi war is DO NOT overthrow brutal Arab dictators ever again! The people get the kind of government they deserve. As long as they don't threaten us or our allies, let them stay and brutalize their people to their hearts' content. Leave Assad alone.

Mar. 19 2013 12:10 PM

Yeah! Frank Rich!!

Mar. 19 2013 12:07 PM
C George

The Please Explain suggestion submission page does not work.

Mar. 19 2013 12:03 PM

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