Three years ago today, we went to war in Iraq.
At the time we were told a lot of things. We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction, active and ongoing research into nuclear weapons, that Iraq had indisputable ties to al-Qaeda. The threat was said to be imminent, so much so that we couldn't even give Hans Blix the several more weeks he wanted to be able to actually find out whether Iraq had WMD. It is now known from the writings of Paul O'Neill, the Downing Street memo and other sources what many of us had suspected before the war: that the Bush administration had discussed an invasion of Iraq even before 9/11 and was dead set on invading Iraq, and anything that would prevent or slow that down was merely an obstacle to be circumvented or run over.
And one more thing that we were told, that the war would be a quick, short one, that it would be over in 'weeks.' And so, President Bush, ever the politician, made a landing on board an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003 and declared 'the end of major combat operations.' The White House continued to paint a rosy picture of how well things were going and how everything was on schedule, and how any incidents were simply the product of 'Saddam dead enders,' until this lie was so obvious that they had no other choice than to correct it.
Now, we know that things did not turn out according to plan. And, it is true, that we cannot turn back the clock or undo the damage that has been done, whether the false roads we were led down were the product of deliberate deceit or bumbling incompetence (does it really matter which of these it was?) What does matter, and this I blogged on just a couple of days ago, is whether can trust this administration, especially in matters of war and peace. The evidence is that we cannot trust them. It is too late to prevent the last war, but we can prevent the next war.
Therefore we must stand up now and make it very clear that we don't support any proposed war against Iran. Do this by contacting your elected representatives, by speaking out in your community against any such war, and asking why we are building bases in Iraq, if our intention is truly to leave the country (and the fourteen military bases we are building in Iraq are enough so that not only does it signal our intention not to actually leave the place, but to use it as a base against-- well, there are only two places that we might be using Iraq as a base to invade, and Syria, a small country, wouldn't require that many Iraqi bases for support.)
Don't get into shouting matches with right wingers. They may try, as John Bolton did, to pull out the '9/11' justification. That is irrelevant. If they want to make the case why we should invade Iran, ask for proof. Ask for more than a bunch of meaningless quotes (they like to quote Ahmadinejad, but if you go back and look at the rhetoric or Ayatollah Khomeini himself-- he named the U.S. the 'Great Satan' in the first place-- Ahmadinejad, a politician who is playing to domestic politics as much as to an international audience-- is no more shrill.) There is no hard proof that Iran is in fact building a nuke, and even if they are, so what? The Soviet Union had nukes, by the thousands, but we waited long enough and the winds of freedom brought them down (despite Khruschev's line, 'we will bury you.') Why is Iran any different? They haven't provided long range rockets or other significant weapons to Hezbollah or other terrorists that they have contact with, so it is hard to see why they would hand out a nuke (I know it is hard to believe, but Ahmadinejad and Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameinei, who is really the most powerful person in Iran, are not insane, and they know that giving terrorists a nuke (if they had one) would invite retaliation against Iran, and they are not such fools. They give Hezbollah enough second rate military equipment to enable them to be a thorn in the side of Israel, but they haven't provided them with any weapons (including poison gas, which Iran at least had on hand during the Iran-Iraq war) that would represent a clear escalation of that conflict.
And sure, Iran isn't a great place to live, but frankly it's a better place to live, especially if you are a female and value the right to vote, to drive a car, and to own property, than our 'allies' in places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the U.A.E. But whatever the internal situation there, it isn't up to US to fix everyone else's political problems.
I would hope that as we discuss the three years of the Iraq war, everyone who posts remembers to make the case that we are now beginning to hear the same things about Iran, and it is time to unite against an Iran war now, not wait until conservatives can get their act together and push through another resolution ahead of the election, as they did in 2002.