Last night, I finally got around to watching Rachel Maddow's excellent documentary, "Hubris". I only wish it had been two hours long. It served to renew my anger that none of Dubyah and his thugs paid for starting the war. It also served to revive an understanding of the reasons for the war I had in 2003-4. In a nutshell, the war came about through a horrible confluence of the interests of the neocons and Dubyah's political agenda. Over four thousand Americans and God only knows how many Iraqis died so a bunch of chickenhawks could play "sojer"; so the 'pubs could regain a majority in the Senate, hold onto the House, and set the stage for re-electing Dubyah in 2004. As for Dubyah, well, he got to strut around playing cowboy for eight years. They whole despicable lot of them should have been hanged, but I digress.
We must first remember the political context in 2002. Dubyah had lost the popular vote without question (around 600,000 fewer votes than Vice President Gore had received). Furthermore, his lead in Florida was suspect and his campaigns own actions prevented those suspicions from being laid to rest. He was awarded Florida's electoral votes by a Supreme Court decision that rested on such shaky ground and potentially set such an appalling precedent that the Court itself disqualified its own opinion as precedent for anything. The Republicans clung to a majority in the House, but the Senate was tied 50-50 and that tie was broken in the spring of 2001 when a Senator switched parties to join the Democrats. Dubyah was hardly the public's darling. Then came the tragedies on Sept. 11, 2001. They scared the hell out of the country (justifiably so) and sent Dubyah's favorables soaring into the stratosphere. This country usually rallies behind a President in time of national crisis. He then ordered an invasion of Afghanistan to pursue UBL and to oust the Taliban government of the country which had given cover to the attacks against the U. S. This effort initially went very well and Dubyah became, on top of everything else, a "war President" and, better yet for him, a successful one.
As most Administrations do, Dubyah's came into office believing that they alone possessed the smarts and talent to undo all their predecessors' perceived mistakes. Rummy was going to build a "leaner, smarter, cheaper, more effective" armed forces (and the armed forces were screaming bloody murder about it throughout the spring and summer of 2001, too). The country would disengage from the so-far unsuccessful attempts to settle disputes between Israel and its neighbors (and some of its own citizens). And, believe it or not, the Administration began to pooh-pooh the Clinton Administration's anti-terror efforts around the globe. Meanwhile, Cheney, Rummy, and Wolfowitz (sounds like the law firm from hell), determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein were only too eager to shift the country's focus in that direction, never mind whether there was any justification for it. (This also played into Dubyah's feelings of inferiority vis-a-vis his Father; he would finish a job his old man had left unfinished.) As "Hubris" amply demonstrates, the Administration was determined to start a war with Iraq even before 9/11 and probably would have, given half a chance, even had 9/11 not happened.
Dubyah has a short attention span and soon lost interest in the war in Afghanistan. The problem was, the American public was losing interest too. It was reported at the time that Dubyah's gig as a "war President" was fast losing steam. His standing in the polls was slipping by the late spring of 2002, and the attempt to win back a majority in the Senate was beginning to look more questionable. A President who had lost the popular vote by 600,000 in 2000 couldn't count on having the Supreme Court bail him out again if he lost by anywhere near that majority in 2004, so Dubyah was beginning to look like a one-termer, as the old man had been. Solution: Let's start another war! And they did.
The United States didn't stumble into that war; it wasn't the result of serial errors and misjudgments. The Administration set about deliberately to start it, basing its efforts in lies, half-truths, and distortions, and whipping up the already elevated fears of the public. I can't add anything to what "Hubris" revealed about the complicity of the media in the whole, shabby affair. The nearest parallel to the lead-up to that war that I can think of is Germany's attack on Poland in 1939. But unlike the German civilian and military leadership, Dubyah and his Thugs got away with it.
The whole affair, from beginning right down to today, is one of the most shameful episodes in U. S. history. A bloody, expensive war started for reasons of gratifying the egos of those who plotted it and for crass, political ends. This sort of thing should not happen in a country like ours.
But hey, from the perspective of those who planned, started, and pursued it, it worked out fine. The Democrats lost control of the Senate in 2002 and didn't regain it until 2006. Dubyah, a draft dodger, was re-elected over a bona-fide decorated veteran of Vietnam (although instead of relying on the Court, he relied on some highly suspect efforts in Ohio to carry that state and a majority of the popular vote and the electoral college). Wolfowitz was appointed to head the World Bank (for Christ's sake!). And today, they're all enjoying a comfortable retirement.
Next up on the neocons' agenda, bullying the Obama Administration into attacking Iran.